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Have you ever wondered why the day commemorating the torturous crucifixion of the Prince of Peace is called ‘Good Friday?’ What, exactly, was good about it?

Conversely, the biggest shopping day of the year — when people purchase presents at a discount to commemorate His Presence on Christmas Day — is called ‘Black Friday.’ Evidently this is because it can take retailers’ accounts out of the red and into the black, metaphorically speaking. But doesn’t this sound just a bit BackWord to you?

In this case, of course, Black connotes prosperity and not the dark mark against humanity that Good Friday actually commemorates. But if you’re a person of African or East Indian descent, the absurdity of this discrepancy may be doubled for you since ‘people of color’ are the most disadvantaged in our backword economy, despite the fact that Jesus, Himself, was most likely a colorful person in a multitude of ways – including the tone of his skin.

Once I heard an NPR commentator remark that Jesus would be chagrined to know he’d become the patron saint of 4th quarter profits. If you, too, feel that an excess of material gifts and all the waste this produces are hardly a way to celebrate the advent of an enlightened teacher on the planet, then you may enjoy my Holiday poem, Gifts of Presence.

I wrote Gifts in the early 90s at the request of a friend who wanted me to create a piece about everything wrong with the world – and to make it funny. Gifts of Presence makes it clear that the greatest gift we can ever give to ourselves and each other is, precisely, Presence: the light of our own awakened awareness and the beauty and compassion it inspires us to embody and enact:

Laurel Airica

My abiding fascination with the English language has enabled me to develop great skill in using it to express ideas that make a positive difference in people’s lives.