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Christmas is 'life'

Letter-writer Maurice Fitzgerald's suggestion to 'ban Christmas' is a very negative thought. Far from being a time of depression, grumbling, hunger, poverty, crime, pain and suffering -- if we understand its true meaning -- the birth of Christ our Saviour is intended to be a season of great joy. This fact is not even alluded to in Mr Fitzgerald's letter.

Rarely have I witnessed such crowds, young, old and of all nationalities, that packed into our local cathedral and churches for the main Christmas Day ceremonies last weekend.

'Commercialism' of some sort was always an important vehicle for the promotion of the true religious aspect of Christmas. At this time of year people become more aware and caring for the needs of others -- the old, sick, poor, lonely and those down on their luck. Generosity flourishes and in the process brings more business and employment.

Family and friends' relationships are replenished by giving cards, presents and good wishes. What a calamity for children everywhere if Santa and his reindeers ceased to travel!

As well as using part of this special holiday to shake off the consequences of over-indulgence, many also avail of it to reflect on life as it affected them in the past year, and implement some new thoughts for the coming one.

The Pope, leader of the world's 1.3 billion Roman Catholics, summed it up in his Christmas Day message -- published in your paper on the same day as Mr Fitzgerald's letter. It reads: "Today Christmas has become a commercial celebration, whose bright lights hide the mystery of God's humility and simplicity. Let us ask the Lord to help us see through the superficial glitter of this season, and to discover behind it the child in the stable in Bethlehem, so as to find true joy and true light."

James Gleeson
Thurles, Co Tipperary

Irish Independent