There has been much said about the “commercialization” of the Christmas holidays. One might only have to walk into any of the big box stores to see the display of Christmas decorations and ornaments as early as October.
Six foot high inflatable Santas can be seen alongside Halloween lawn decorations, while our mailboxes become stuffed with holiday fliers and offers for early holiday shopping. This should make us all scratch our heads and wonder whether we’ve lost the true meaning of the season.
Christmas should be a time of rejoicing and of great happiness. It should be a time of recognition of the greatest gift ever granted to humanity.
However, for some it is a time of sorrow, as their circumstances may be much different than ours. The happiness and excitement that fills the eyes of many a child will be seen as just blank stares on the faces of children who live in less fortunate circumstances.
For others it will be in the sadness of the loss of a loved one, or the realization that those closest to them will not be able to be present due to circumstances out of their control.
It is important that we look around us to see what can be done to help those less fortunate or those in need of a kind word to help lift their spirits. We should also think about those who lost everything in the terrible fires in Tennessee and North Carolina, along with those devastated by the terrible weather events of the last month.
We live in a region of the nation where those with great resources are only steps away from those with so little. We also have many near us that live alone, or have lost those closest to them, leaving this time of year an especially lonely one.
Each and every one of us can help to make this time of year more representative of what it should be about, and many do so in their commitment to the numerous charities and efforts that are undertaken this time of year.
The efforts undertaken by the Toys for Tots by the United States Marines Corps is just such an effort. The Joy of Giving endeavor here on the island, and the wonderful philanthropy shown by the Island Country Club in support of that effort, are great examples.
The hard work and dedication of the Marco Island Kiwanis Club and their annual presentation of gifts for needy children is heartwarming.
The Marco Bay Yacht Club has collected 41 bicycles to be distributed to needy children through Christmas Island Style.
Outreach programs by our local churches and fraternal organization for those alone during this special time of year are undertaken in a quiet and respectful manner, protecting the privacy of those who just need to know they are not forgotten.
Another local charity, the “Bread Run,” operates year round to bring much needed supplies out to the 6L Farms area, and is another gift that just keeps giving throughout the year.
It is also a time for us all to remember those in public safety, especially those who have lost their lives during this last horrific year. All will leave behind families who will grieve during this holiday instead of celebrating the wonderment of the season.
A prayer should also be said for those in uniform who serve this great nation and protect these traditions we all hold dear. Many stand the watch in harm’s way thousands of miles from home and away from their families as they protect us and our nation.
This is a holiday season which sees us opening our hearts for all around us. It is a time when we should reflect on the true meaning of Christmas and the great gift received by each generation that has come and gone since that special evening which saw shepherds, wise men and angels celebrate the birth of not only a baby in a manger, but of hope for all generations to come for a better world.
Merry Christmas to all, and thank you Marco Island for demonstrating the true meaning of Christmas.
Steve Stefanides, well-known by his nickname “Stef,” is an experienced award-winning reporter of local civic and public interest news. Stef’s More Straight Talk column (and its predecessor, Straight Talk), on a variety of subjects, is a favorite of readers who trust him to bring them the facts. A Marco Island resident, Stef contributes to the community in many ways, having served on a number of city committees, charitable groups, boards and local organizations. Contact him by email at Stef@coastalbreezenews.com