According to ancient Christmas custom, a man and a woman who meet under a hanging of mistletoe were obliged to kiss. Some think that this practice may have originated in Scandinavian cultures. Regardless of its origin, the idea of healthy intimate touch is a good one.
My daughter was recently telling a friend about how my mother used to take her to the nursing home with her. She would tell Kristal to hold the hands of the older people who she didn't even know just because "they are lonely". This made a lasting impression on Kristal and to this day she has a special affinity with seniors.
Most people enjoy a hug from someone who is dear to them. A pat on the back from a respected employer is appreciated. Many value the companionship that a pet provides and bond with it by stroking its fur. Touching the head of a child can be a demonstration of affection for the little one.
A handshake not only symbolizes commitment to an agreement but also is an accepted way of greeting another person.
Yes, there are many intimate forms of touch that can draw people together in a healthy way but one of the most powerful is to touch the heart of someone through their emotions.
This Christmas we all have the opportunity to touch the lives of people who we don't know. This might be done when you join a group of carolers or participate in a concert. Perhaps you will help to serve at a banquet prepared for those who would otherwise be alone for the holidays. You might prepare a bag of groceries for the Food Bank or write a cheque for a charity.
Maybe you will read the Christmas Story to a grandchild or mend a broken relationship with words of acceptance. Perhaps you will pray with someone who is ill or plow the driveway for a neighbour. You might send flowers to a friend, care for a pet while its owner goes to visit family or hang lights for the community to enjoy.
Even if you think that you have absolutely nothing to give - no problem. Just put on your broadest smile and offer everyone you meet a warm "Merry Christmas" greeting.
I remember the first time that my family purchased an artificial Christmas tree. The only one left for sale was the one that was on display in the store window. After the sales person took it apart branch by branch, it was packed into a large box. As my father wrapped his arms around it and wrestled with it into street his foot caught a patch of ice. The box flew open and branches were strewn all over the sidewalk. As he lay there on the ice surrounded by parts of the tree, a lady passed him and cheerfully called out "Merry Christmas, sir". Decades later, we still laugh about how the Christmas spirit changed that frustrating situation into one that brought a smile to dad's face.
You see, Christmas is about giving but it is also about being open to the possibilities that the season offers you - even if you feel that you are lying on the ice with everything scattered about you.
During the days that lie ahead, my hope is that you will allow a baby to touch your life and make a difference in your future. I'm talking about the one who Christmas is named after - the baby Christ.
Merry Christmas, everyone!