Someone in Florida had a great idea. I wonder if it would work helping us sell our school? Isn’t it funny the way the littlest inducements can sometimes compel people to do what they might not otherwise do?
I don’t think this idea will help us, but the day before Christmas is a good time for something light and … well… tomato-ey.
I have to say that this year our Christmas season is a bit bizarre. Christmas is normally Peggy’s time. She has the house all decorated, and the foyer, and she intrudes into my studio with Christmastime as well. But the downsizing meant that many of her 12 packing boxes of Christmas decorations went bye-bye with the estate sale and that the few decorations we kept are packed away in some box SOMEWHERE. She’s done what she can with the few possessions we have access to but it’s not a normal Christmas.
As for me, I’ve never been a “holiday” person. I try to treat people with a holiday spirit all year long and the idea that being gracious, or kind, or generous should be reserved for special days doesn’t sit well with me. And I’ve been known to do all sorts of things in anticipation of a holiday. Our second Christmas together I painted the kitchen on Christmas eve. There have been other examples of strange behavior (I am told) but that one sticks out at me — usually because it’s brought up at embarrassing moments.
I’m also not all that keen on the politically correct obsession of wishing every group in the world a Happy Holiday. I understand that some people celebrate Hanukkah or Kwanzaa, and there may be other celebrations going on at this time of the year — perhaps witches celebrating the winter solstice — but I still prefer calling a thing by it’s name, and if I’m talking about Christmas then I think it OK to wish people a Merry Christmas without touching base with every other faction of society. I’m a big boy now, and I try to use my big boy words.
When Peg was still working for Aurora there was mandatory diversity training. That’s been a few years ago now — I don’t think she was required to attend any for at least the most recent 5 years of her tenure there. But the entire subject of diversity training has always been a bit of a puzzlement to me. I know that when my grandparents came to this country they came because they wanted to be Americans. They left behind a world that had not been kind to them and what they wanted in the U.S. was a new start. Oh, they kept their ability to speak their native language, but they were quick to want to assimilate into this culture, and not to remain deaf and mute in their new country. I guess on some levels I think to myself if generations and generations of immigrants could do that, why must we now go so far to make accommodations to immigrants — legal or otherwise. I’m not a hardass – I simply wonder whether encouraging diversity is a good thing for a nation that is splintered and factionalized. I often think about the way in which this entire country pulled together during the First and Second World Wars, and I wonder whether that kind of self-sacrifice, that kind of single-mindedness of purpose could ever again be achieved in a nation that celebrates individuality in the way we do.
I guess I see the Christmas season as a reminder of things that seem, today, to be anti-american. Jesus came into the world to save sinners. Nowadays citizens don’t even want to be convicted of what they have done, much less to admit that they are habitual sinners. Wise men consulted the stars for a sign … now today that would be considered scientifically absurd, but the idea that a star would actually lead them to the right infant is mathematically insignificant and improbable, but there you have it. I happen to believe that it happened. The idea that men of wealth and position might honor a baby born in a stable seems strange — especially when we poke fun at our political leaders but we idolize rock stars. Whether we celebrate Christmas because of the arrival of a baby, or because of who that baby turned out to be some 30 years later is really moot. We celebrate through gracious acts and generous behavior some of the best of what humans can be, or become. And I have to admit that it troubles me that giving has too often become for some a sacrifice of dollars in the form of a gift card rather than something the recipient can use. In our haste to be able to afford the Christmas we think we “deserve”, we no longer have the time to give meaningful gifts to people we claim to love and cherish and honor. To me it’s all rather confusing.
Hanukkah too is a time of miracles. The impossibly meager supply of oil that lasted much longer than it should have — God does take care of his own in spite of all the ridicule and scoffing that accompanies the celebration of religious tradition. It has never been easy being a Jew in a Gentile world — I give my Jewish friends a lot of credit for their steadfast faith — those who have a steadfast faith.
I say that not to denigrate my Jewish friends but to recognize the sad reality that faith of any sort, Christian, Jewish, Muslim or other is not all that common in 2012. There are a lot of dogmatic people, a lot of bigots and pretenders, but the search for those who actually live what they say they believe is increasingly difficult.
So it is that I love Christmas — for what it shows us we could be — if only we’d slow down and let the best in us shine out from the darkness that surrounds. I may not walk around wearing a Santa hat (though I used to do that for the Month of December) but my heart is still in the season. I’m glad to believe in Jesus, I happen to think He is the Savior of the World. He has changed my life, for the better and for me Christmas is about my faith more than about commercialism. I really don’t care if no one else shares the meaning for the season; faith has never been about doing what everyone else is doing. I wish all my friends the best parts of this season, time together with family, an appreciation for those you love, and a few hours to break away from the haste of the world and realize that this is a pretty amazing life even with all the little things we get upset about.