If you’re a current subscriber, log in below. If you would like to subscribe, please click the subscribe tab above.
Username and Password Help
Please enter your email and we will send your username and password to you.
By Shane Gilreath
Merry Christmas! Though it’s an almost forgotten piece of our culture, today very much is still Christmas, the tenth of the twelve days of the Christian season, ending with the start of Epiphany, and commemorating the birth of Christ. As Christmas 2023 came upon me so suddenly, I find myself grateful for twelve days to rejoice and embrace the spirit of the holiday, rather than the one and done attitude embraced by so many. After all, such a momentous occasion, and one with such overwhelming consequences for mankind, surely deserves more than just December 25th. To compensate, I’ve found myself engrossed in literature and readings from days of yore and the many Christmas traditions – most of them Victorian – that brought us to this brink. Of all of them, I find myself thinking most sincerely about the Christian virtue of giving back, that, when done properly, is such a remarkable part of Christmas and Christianity. Though not a “mummer” or a “wait,” per the Victorians, where the kids often surmise I belong, I was led down avenues that I didn’t except in 2023: for one, dressed as an elf on a frigid North Pole night for Big South Fork Scenic Railway’s The Polar Express. Though “elfing” seemed both a remnant of my past life with the railway and the close of that chapter, it was also simple in comparison to the great and meaningful works of others. To say thank you to community heroes, I was honored to organize the first “Together at Christmas” at Christ the King Anglican Church in Marshes Siding, a caroling concert inspired by one that originated with The Princess of Wales across the pond, paying annual homage to those who heartily give of themselves in our communities. “Of those much is given,” St. Luke said, “much is expected.” They are simple words which have long served as my personal motto, and remind me, in perpetuity, of the personal axioms of both sets of my grandparents, who served the community in varying ways throughout their own lives, and which my maternal grandmother reminded me, in essence, “this is what we do.” So, when, just before Christmas, I was contacted and asked to help with a new charity to help the downtrodden, Sanctuary of Service, or SOS McCreary, I was apt to do so. The organization’s mission is a humble one: to help ease the burden of poverty, an act of attrition particularly meaningful this time of year. Though we each, in our honesty, possess a daily struggle, it is important to keep foremost in our minds, for Christmas and every day, the unassuming words of St. Luke: of those much is given, much is expected.