Once again we find ourselves fast approaching the day when most of our great nation pauses to celebrate the birth of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. It is a time when we like to pause and take our lives out of gear for a few days so that we can slow down and come together with our families and friends. For those of us in the fire service, it works out like that sometimes. At other times we find ourselves rolling out to serve our respective communities. Life in the fire service does not always take a holiday from service to others.
Let me begin this holiday visit with you with a bit of a confession. I am a sentimentalist. In point of fact my friends, I am a teary-eyed, old-movie-loving, there-really-is-a Santa Claus kind of sentimentalist. There are just some times when emotion takes over and the tough guy in me flies out of the window. This is the time of the year geared to take over the emotions of folks who truly care for one another.
One of these moments which affect me so deeply comes at the end of the 1940's movie It's a Wonderful Life, when all of George Bailey's friends come into his home to pay off his debt to the old Bailey Savings and Loan. As the notes of Hark the Herald Angels Sing sound forth, my spirit is always overwhelmed with joy. I like to dwell on the comment made during the movie that no man is truly poor who has friends. Another good message from that 1947 classic is the one which states that every time you hear a bell ring, another angel has received their wings.
There is another movie which also brings forth these feelings of joy in my heart. The other night I sat in front of my television watching Miracle on 34th Street. Surely you must have seen this Christmas classic at least once. You know, the one about the old fellow who believed himself to be Santa Claus. I always tear up a bit when it comes to the part where the court officers bring in the bags of mail to prove that Edmond Gwenn is really Santa Claus.
I believe that both of these movies deal with the sort of kindness and hope which serve as the basis for our celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ. While they might not be anything more than a couple of old movies to some of you, it is my belief that they show the human spirit at its best. At a time in the world when selfishness and cynicism abound in our society, it is critical for us to show that there is something really good in the world around us.
That is why I have faith in the concepts of hope, charity, and the basic elements of human kindness which each of us should embody during the Christmas Season. More than that, I strongly believe that these Christian ideals should become a part of our being on a year-round basis. Really, is there any reason for you not to be kind and helpful in July, like you are at Christmas?
In a world of diminishing resources, it is critical for all of us to husband the scarce resources which are available to our departments. Each of us must step forward and do more than we are used to doing. We will need to do the work of those who are no longer available to share the workload. Given the declining staffing levels in both the career and volunteer fire service sectors, let me suggest that the contributions of each of us who remain are now that much more important. As the number of members goes lower, the importance of the contribution by those of us who still turn out becomes that much more important.
Let me suggest that as you enjoy the joyous holiday music which permeates the spirit of this joyous season, I would ask that you make it part of your soul. Let these joyous, holiday tunes motivate you to bring the Christmas spirit to your everyday life throughout the entire year which lies ahead of us.