The Most Welcome Christmas Gifts: Positive Thinking and Faith

Life's difficulties are always with us, but the holidays inspire a renewed sense that things will be all right, that someone is watching over us.

By Edward Grinnan, Editor-in-Chief, New York, New York

As appeared in

That seems to be the consensus about 2011. Difficult economy, political turmoil in the Middle East, natural disasters and extreme weather. Could things have been any tougher? People seem to be glad that this year is almost over.

Almost. We still have Christmas, and I think there is a reason Christmas comes at the end of the year rather than at the beginning.

That first Christmas came at a difficult time too. The world Christ was born into was rocked by political upheaval in the Middle East, by a tottering economy as the Roman Empire buckled under the weight of its own grandeur, by war, religious strife and cultural divides. I’m sure the weather was bad too.

In other words, it was a very human environment. I guess we haven’t changed all that much in the last two millennia, have we?

Christ came to us in human form, as one of us, for a reason: so that we would know that he understood our world with all its tragedies and triumphs, its beauty and its pain. He wanted to be a part of the mosaic that is humanity.

At the end of the year we are reminded that no matter how dark times may seem, there is a light that sees us through and lifts us up, all of us, the light born into the world in Bethlehem.

I’ve seen some great moments among the difficult ones in 2011. During my book tour last spring I visited Birmingham, Alabama, days after the devastating tornadoes. I expected to find a paralyzed state. Instead, I found people energized to help their neighbors survive and rebuild.

In fact, all across the country I met people overcoming challenges with incredible faith and optimism, with a sense that we are made stronger by our struggles and that the future holds unending promise. And that’s what we really have to celebrate this and every Christmas.

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