It seems we are a nation divided. A goodly number of us jump headlong into the Christmas frenzy, stoked on the sound of carols interrupted with “Associate needed in electronics!” and the other contingent of our nation sighs with disgust as we bemoan the holiday holocaust that the birth of the Savior has become. Of course this latter group often does its complaining while standing in line at midnight for the store to open. I often wonder if the whole country might want to join in on a chorus of “Have Yourself of Schizophrenic Christmas!”
The score seems tied between the Big-Blast Christmas-ers and the Reason for the Season crowd as the average American probably spen-
ds a bit of time in the huddle of each team. As our nation becomes more and more one nation under various gods, flags, and colors, traditions get stretched and altered and it’s no sin to want to keep things the same. It’s futile, but it’s no sin.
Sometimes it’s the Godly thing to adapt instead of struggle against change. For years Grand
ma had Christmas at her house. Each family would open presents on Christmas morning (with the exception of one heathen uncle who nearly ruined Christianity by allowing his kids to find their gifts on Christmas Eve), then we’d gather at Grandma’s house for the gathering of the clan. If you got married and your wife had her own Christmas noontime traditions, that was just too bad. No one missed Grandma’s house when the sun rose to its highest point on December 25th. Then about 25 years ago the walls of our family tradition were shaken to their roots as a great-nephew announced that his family wouldn’t be able to make it. We held our breath. Would Grandma collapse in a fit of apoplexy? Grandpa had a shotgun. Would he use it?
When my grandparents received the polite, handwritten note from cousin Paul that he’d be celebrating Christmas with his wife’s family, they both smiled. Grandma simply said, “Isn’t it wonderful that they love each other? I hope they have a wonderful Christmas!” …and she meant it. Nothing made her happier than for a fellow family member to find joy and love. The preacher read the Nativity story that Christmas, but nothing spoke to us as loudly as Grandma’s calm resignation to a changing world, and a world where love speaks more loudly than tradition.
And anyone who’s looked into the research knows that we’ve probably got the date wrong and perhaps even the year of the first Christmas. We sort of borrowed the date from a pagan holiday so maybe it’s merely fairplay for the non-Christians to steal it back for a bit of merchandising.
Despite all the half-price off sales and vodka-laden hot toddies this season, there’s a Christmas to be found out there. I went to the biggie discount store one day last week and saw that the nationwide chain had again spread Christmas cheer by making its Salvation Army bell ringers stand out in the cold. It was 7 a.m. and the winter wind was whipping through the parking lot as a single high school girl stood there tinkling her greeting. I asked the girl how she came to get such a frigid job. She smiled and said, “It’s just something I wanted to do.” Cool beans. That’s Christmas.
A friend of mine takes it upon himself to throw his guitar into his truck and every Christmas morning will find him walking the halls of our local hospital, singing carols. It’s too quiet a gesture to make CNN tonight, but be assured that he’ll be there. . . making Christmas.
The big chain stores may rule the economy and the White House Christmas tree might be a bit bigger than the pine that’s sprucing up your living room, but at the heart of the thing, Christmas is still a personal matter. No amount of hullabaloo can take away from what it means to you and what you intend to do with it. At the beginning of each Christmas dinner Grandma would ask one of the grandkids to pray. She was wise enough to know that all the other trimmings were just that . . . trimmings.
All of which brings to mind something else my grandmother once told me. “What’s the big fuss about being born?” she asked. “Heck, your grand-
pa was born. Anybody can do that. But Easter! Now there’s a trick that only one guy has ever pulled off!”
You ever in Coonridge, stop by. We may not answer the door but you'll enjoy the trip.