By Craig Funston
So, it’s a few days before the big day, that day we celebrate the birth of the Christ-child. No matter how you approach it, I sincerely trust your celebration(s) will be a great time for you and your family.
However, in far too many circles here in the West, that opening line would be unacceptable: too religious and too assertive. Such would produce protests and petitions. And for starters, that would only be just over the songs.
Question: Why all the fuss? I have no idea.
For those types of people, Christmas becomes Christ-miss. That’s more tragic than witty, if I may so say myself. In other words, they “miss” out on the genuine good that comes with Christmas season. I cannot fathom why all the pettiness (sorry, friends, but that’s what it is) that they drag into the season.
The birth of Jesus was a verifiable historical event. Any thinking person would not dispute that. The Christ-missers have no problem celebrating with presents, trees, lights, and turkey dinner, but they want the fundamental reason for the season left out.
That’s like saying that I would like teaching if it wasn’t for the kids—or a store if it wasn’t for the customers
Here’s a tip to those whose noses are out of joint: Do your Christmas thing your way, but leave the rest of us alone. Deal? You don’t want nativity scenes? No problem, don’t have them. Just let us have ours. You want to delete any reference to Jesus, Christ, or God in the Christmas carols? No problem; sing your own inane ditties (man, I love that line!). Just let us sing the ones we value.
I recognize clearly that so many in the world have no time for the birth of Jesus, or at least don’t feel the urge to celebrate it. That may be for religious, cultural, or other, reasons. No problem; but that doesn’t mean I need to protest or petition.
Strange that so many have come to “miss” the significance of what Christmas is all about, and want to join the Grinch in spreading their grumpiness around. One wonders what the real reason is. Fear? Resentment? Bitterness?
Then there is another group that I think about at this time of year. They too will “miss” out on the real meaning of Christmas, but for very different reasons. You see, their life is a “mess,” so Christmas for them is not so much Christ-miss as it is Christ-mess.
It’s Christ-mess because they’ve just lost their job, or their marriage has fallen apart, or they read the news headlines everyday, or because the doctor’s prognosis was not good at all or…well, you get the picture.
Christmas is a time where family and fun, love and laughter, hope and happiness, are emphasized so strongly—and rightly so. And when there has been loss of any of those factors, well, it’s not much of a Christmas. Maybe you struggle with a deep sense of alienation of some sort. My heart goes out to you.
Or, maybe you don’t, but you know someone who does. Does your heart go out to them?
One of our habits at Christmas is to have someone over (individual or family), someone who has no family connections in the area. We aren’t motivated by pity, as much as a sense of camaraderie: we’re actually in the same boat. So while we don’t seek out those whose lives are necessarily in a “mess,” we do seek out those who may be on their own for the day.
That, I believe, is one of the special spirits of the season.
I am so grateful that both my wife and I were raised in that attitude of Christmas. I think those who object to the spirit of the season really “miss” out. For us to cram our viewpoint down the throat of a reluctant citizenry would be wrong. And for them to cram their take on the season down our throat is equally wrong—and I did say “wrong,” not merely objectionable.
But likewise, for us to hold back the genuine good that we want to share—whether in song, or in scenes, or in spirit– would likewise be wrong. We need to do what we must do, without restrictions.
As much pain as I feel for those who feel the “mess” of their lives so keenly, believe it or not, I also feel pain for those who “miss” out on what Christmas is all about. It’s about giving, not grabbing; about sharing, not stifling; about magnanimity, not miserliness.
So whether it’s a “miss” or a “mess,” and regardless of what your take on the season is, I want to wish you one and all the very best of this Christmas season, from our home to yours. Even if you can’t accept the words I say, please at least accept the spirit in which it is given. Merry Christmas to all!