Carl Mays: 'Christmas, my child, is love in action'

Dec. 21, 2012 @ 11:11 PM

A first grade teacher was leading her class in a lesson about owls. She explained such things as how owls can swivel their heads far in either direction, appearing to be able to turn them completely around, and how they are nocturnal creatures with huge, highly-developed eyes for night-time vision. Vividly, she described how the owls locate and then swoop down to get their prey for dinner.

Following her descriptive lesson, she asked the students to draw pictures of one of the fascinating things about owls that impressed them. As she walked by the children’s desks to inspect the drawings, she commented and praised them on their creative efforts. She was rather puzzled, however, by one drawing. It was of an owl with its wings neatly folded beneath its beak, its eyes closed and a dead field mouse nearby. She asked the little girl who drew it, “Exactly what is this showing, dear?” The little girl explained, “It’s just like you said, the owl swoops down and prays before dinner.”

Sometimes what we say is not what people hear. The fact is, just as in the case of the little girl, people hear from their various perspectives. I feel sure this first grader was intrigued by much of the description of the owl – but it seems she was most focused on and impressed with the idea that the owl actually prayed before dinner, as was probably the custom in her own family. Customs with which we grow up play a large part in shaping our perspectives and beliefs.

I don’t know which has been more exciting for me through the years, the unfolding revelations of Christmas morning or the excitement and high anticipations of Christmas Eve. I can’t recall when I stopped believing in a jolly, robust Santa Claus dressed in a red suit trimmed with white fur who delivered presents to everyone around the world in one evening – and learned that “Santa Claus” is the embodiment of parents and others who love and care for us. At the same time, I do know that I still believe in the crescendo-like feeling of the giving and sharing of love at Christmastime.

I can’t recall when I first understood that Christmas in my family not only featured the mystical magic of Santa Claus, but more importantly centered on the biblically-based story of God’s gift to the world in his son Jesus. I still enjoy the Santa Claus factor. More importantly, I still believe “...that God gave his only Son so that anyone who believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” And, I still believe that if the faith is real, it will result in works that honor and glorify God the giver.

So, regardless of how some people want to transform the “Christmas” season into merely a “Holiday” season, and regardless of how some groups want to eliminate nativity scenes from the holiday, I hold tightly to the Christmas perspectives ingrained in me since childhood – and to the supporting revelations that have come to me through formal and informal study and experiences since childhood.

Considering my perspectives, I share these quotes that exemplify adult-sized, biblically-based thoughts while retaining the child-size mystical magic of Santa Claus: “Maybe Christmas doesn’t come from a store” (Dr. Seuss’ Grinch); “I will honor Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year” (Charles Dickens’ Ebenezer Scrooge); Christmas is not a time nor season but a state of mind. To cherish peace and goodwill, to be plenteous in mercy, is to have the real spirit of Christmas” (President Calvin Coolidge); “Christmas, my child, is love in action. Every time we love, every time we give, it’s Christmas” (Dale Evans Rogers).

© 2012 by Carl Mays, National Speakers Association Hall of Fame member and author, whose mentoring site is based on his "A Strategy For Winning” book and program. Contact or view