Editor Al Campbell -- Use This One

Former Managing Editor Al Campbell.

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That we live in a cynical age is without dispute. It seems little that we seniors clung to when we were children are valued by today's society. 

Wishing for such humble Christmas presents from Santa Claus as a bicycle or electric train set is as old fashioned as barrel making or candle making, but there was magic in those more innocent years, something that is lost today. Writing a letter to Santa, addressing it simply to "Santa Claus, North Pole" and hoping for those gifts on Christmas morning was part of the wonder of Christmas, at least to me. 

Today's youngsters almost demand gifts as a right not to be denied. Today's mothers and fathers, pressed as they are to afford gifts for their youngsters, are faced with price tags that boggle the mind as well as the pocketbook. How their children can figure out how to operate such gadgets is puzzling to anyone over the age of 25, or so it seems. 

Affording presents was always an onerous task for parents, so nothing has changed in the decades since ice skates and dolls were much desired by children on Christmas. 

Growing up in the 1950s and 1960s may have had an edge over today's younger generation. There was no such thing as the internet to clog young minds with information overload. A catalog sent through the mail was often how young minds were set aflame. Dreams were somehow more attainable then, although paychecks were much smaller.

Deep down, beneath the tinsel and glitter of the Madison Avenue rush of today, the spirit of Christmas remains untarnished. That's the belief in something, as yet, unseen. There is hope that the plethora of presents will somehow act as a redeemer of the giver. 

The new computer will be dated in a year, if it lasts that long, but the memory of mom or dad giving up hours with the family to earn money to buy it may remain.

The reason for Christmas giving is merely a human imitation of that wondrous gift of a baby born to young parents given by God. Nothing any mother or father can give their offspring can match that gift, yet they try to the best of their meager ability. It is much like chasing the wind.

Santa, the man in a red suit, who does the impossible on Christmas Eve, "visiting" myriad homes around the globe, is the embodiment of the spirit of giving. 

Oh, that his jolly spirit of doing his best to make young hearts glad by leaving material gifts would kindle a spark in hearts worldwide. That spirit would be looking to make one or two wishes reality to downcast souls who may live nearby.

There is nothing tawdry or fanciful about believing in the Child who makes Christmas a reality, who came to do His father's will to show mankind the way to heaven. 

That remains a hope to which all can cling, and it costs nothing monetary. Such a Christmas gift is better than homemade butter cookies or boxes of toys that may last until noon Dec. 25 or longer, with any luck.

The evergreen tree that many will decorate as a revered yule tradition is but a reminder of the everlasting promise that was delivered to Earth on the first Christmas.

May the spirit of Christmas and its real substance remain with you, reader, for today and tomorrow. May it never be extinguished, like a Christmas candle, or discarded, like pretty wrapping paper Dec. 26. 

Merry Christmas all year long.

Campbell writes from Court House. He is the Herald's managing editor emeritus, who retired after 31 years Sept. 1.