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Once a traveler from a far land came to visit our country, and he arrived here about a week before Christmas. He was not a tourist, or a businessman, and he was not visiting family. He could best be described as an amateur anthropologist. He simply wanted to come to America in the midst of one of our holidays when pretty much everybody was doing the same kind of thing. He just wanted to watch, and to see if he could find out anything. What was the cause of all the commotion?
At first he thought the celebrations were sponsored by FedEx, UPS, and the postal service. He saw packages being shipped all over, and trucks going every which way. And this was not even counting the cards and the late and very apologetic newsletters.
Then he thought that it had to be some kind of nature celebration because of all the evergreens, and the pictures of snow, and so forth. But as he traveled, he found out that there was just as much celebrating in Miami as there was in upstate New York. So that couldn’t be it.
Then he noticed the big role that music played in all the festivities, and thought for a short time that the whole thing was foisted upon the country by a musicians union. But then, upon reflection, he recognized that the music was usually pretty bad, so that wasn’t it either.
He actually found out the reason for the holiday almost by accident. He struck up a conversation with a weathered old man ringing a bell by one of those Salvation Army red buckets outside the mall, and he did it because he felt kind of sorry for him—the day was pretty cold. But when he offered his condolences, the man just grinned at him. "Nope," he said. "Don’t feel sorry for me, boyo. I’m cold, but I’m sober. Best Christmas in 28 years."
"Would you tell me how that happened?" the visitor asked.
"Sure," the man said.
I say that a man must be certain of his morality for the simple reason that he has to suffer for it.
G. K. Chesterton