ONCE AGAIN, the president has curdled the eggnog by invoking the idea of a “war on Christmas.” Perhaps President Trump thinks there is a lack of spiritual meaning in such bland greetings as “Happy holidays” and would have us be more aware of the true meaning of Christmas. That seems unlikely, though, since Christmas is the tale of a family driven from place to place by imperial decrees and the irrational fears of an unsettled ruler.

Most people in the time of Mary and Joseph had little idea of what country they were in, or even of such things as countries. They went where they had to in order to survive and got by as best they could. Yet, out of this particular family, came a figure who gave new hope and moral guidance to much of the world.

So, with Christmas approaching, the president, or one of the elves in the darker reaches of his workshop, came up with a plan to cut the number of refugees admitted to the United States to a record low of 18,000. This despite the fact that most refugees have been thoroughly vetted and offer considerable promise to society. A number of communities welcome them and set them on the path to productive citizenship. This latest needless and probably self-destructive action, like many the president has taken, is the reality behind the mirthless jollity of his “Merry Christmas.”

For a truer expression of the spirit of this season, we turn to, of all things, the game of football, and to a report in The Post last week by Roman Stubbs. It’s about a high school team in Ashton, W.Va., and its coach, Kellie Thomas, the first female football coach in the state. Rather than summarize, let us quote from the writer’s account as he describes her talk with a player during practice:

“ ‘I know you’re going to hate me,’ she said, placing a hand on 18-year-old Noah Montgomery’s shoulder pad. ‘But your health is more important to me than this game.’

“Montgomery took his helmet off and began to cry. A medical condition had kept him off the field for weeks, and before the game he and Thomas agreed he would have to sit out the team’s game on senior night. But all he had wanted was one last chance to play for the Hannan Wildcats. He wrapped his arms around his coach . . . as the rest of the players watched in silence. They all knew her for moments such as this.”

And there are many of them in a life like hers. Mr. Stubbs goes on to describe the daily challenges faced by the teacher-coach at a school where “the football team has become the closest family many of her 25 players have.” Many come from families like the one she grew up in: struggling economically, riven by opioids and alcohol, seeking to cope with depression and despair.

There are other people, working in her school and in every part of the world, doing such work day in and day out, without much in the way of pay or glory. They just do it. And in such people lies the true hope for a better world, a hope and longing of which Christmas is one shining manifestation.

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