Born on Christmas Day

Born on Christmas Day

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This time of year, some people tend to forget that Christmas is more than a reason to buy gifts for one’s loved ones, put up a tree and gorge on turkey and stuffing.

Christmas is actually a feast day celebrating the birth of the Savior, also known as Jesus, the Good Shepherd, or the Messiah, and His birthday – shared by hundreds of people since that first Christmas – is a cause for rejoicing.

But what about those others who share a birth date with the most famous man in history? None has had anywhere near the impact of Jesus, but that doesn’t mean they didn’t inspire change. Let’s take a look at some people born on December 25.

Nawaz Sharif, born in 1949, was twice Prime Minister of Pakistan. Atal Vajpayee, born in 1924, was Prime Minister of India for six years. Anwar Sadat (1918) was President of Egypt from 1970 to 1981. Karl Rove, who ran political strategy for former President “G.W.” Bush, was loved and hated in about equal measure, which many consider a testament to his ruthlessness.

Actor Sissy Spacek (1949) and writer Rod Serling (1924) made significant contributions to the world of the stage, television and literature. Robert Ripley (1890) of “Believe It or Not” fame, led several generations of Americans on a quest for the weirdest of the weird. In fact, the wealth of Capricorns (Dec. 25 babies) representing the performing arts is surprising, representing between 20 and 25 percent of Christmas babies. If you are expecting, consider this a bonus; your little one is not likely to grow up to be an accountant, for better or for worse. And on that note I leave you with singer/songwriter Jimmy Buffet (1946) and jazz musician Cab Calloway (1907; central figure in the film “The Blues Brothers”).

Conrad Hilton (1887) of Hilton Hotel fame eschewed the nice-guy role to become the head of the world’s largest hotel chain. Humphrey Bogart (1899), a genuinely nice guy in spite of his screen persona got himself in hot water by joining the Hollywood Anti-Fascist League and crossing swords, pens and tongues with McCarthy Communist witch hunters.

In with this already eclectic mix you will find Carlos Castaneda, whose semi-autobiographical book, “The Teachings of Don Juan,” explored mysticism and shamanism (with the help of psychedelic mushrooms, of course). At the other end of the spectrum, where the purely practical lies, consider Clara Barton, who helped found the American Red Cross, a non-governmental organization (NGO) considered in some circles to have sold out to John D. Rockefeller and fronted a eugenics movement.

All these Christmas babies grew up to change the world, but none so completely as the first Christmas child, who brought a message of benevolence, humility, simplicity and honesty – a creed reflected in every major religion in the world from Hinduism and Judaism to Buddhism and Islam.

It is also meant to be a season of great joy, celebrating new beginnings, so instead of spending the holidays worrying over what seems to be a world in chaos, in which it seems only the rich thrive while the rest of us struggle to survive, consider how much more desolate the world might have been had the first Christmas baby not been born.

And don’t forget to have fun. Even the Man from Galilee loved a good wedding and a glass of wine!

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