Sunday, December 18, 2011

Christmas Rebel Not Without a Claus

I love Christmas. And I'm trying not to grind any axes or chainsaws even for a Christmas tree. I want peace on earth, good will toward all men and women. And I enjoy this seasonal fusion of all kinds of traditions and everyone, well almost everyone, at least trying to be happy and spreading some joy.

The commercialization doesn't even bother me that much. Yesterday, I was out with my wife briefly for some holiday food shopping. The big secret in Centerville is to shop at Fresh Values, the store formerly known as Albertsons. They are across Parrish Lane from WalMart and nobody goes there much anymore. They were offering samples of dips and party platters better than anything you can get on Free-Lunch Saturdays at Costco (Well, there is no such thing, of course, because you have a membership to get in at Costco, they expect you to buy at least one 25-pound bag of Cheetos or something, and it certainly costs a lot out of your life to navigate that parking lot!)

We even made a quick, strategically well planned stop at WalMart for something Fresh Values didn't have. I got close enough to the front door to drop off my wife, then hit the jackpot finding a parking spot four spaces from the door right next to the handicap spots! I parked and went into the madhouse to find her. I hung by the front registers while she made one more desperate swim against tide to grab something else she had forgotten. I just chilled and smiled at people. There was one of my bus friends I see nearly every day. I still don't know his name, but we recognized each other and smiled.

I try to respect those, especially President Monson of my church, who promote the celebration of the Savior's birth and the Christian virtues evident in Dicken's Christmas Carol:
"Nephew!" returned the uncle, sternly, "keep Christmas in your own way, and let me keep it in mine."
"Keep it!" repeated Scrooge's nephew.  "But you don't keep it."
"Let me leave it alone, then," said Scrooge.  "Much good may it do you!  Much good it has ever done you!"
"There are many things from which I might have derived good, by which I have not profited, I dare say," returned the nephew.  "Christmas among the rest.  But I am sure I have always thought of Christmas time, when it has come round -- apart from the veneration due to its sacred name and origin, if anything belonging to it can be apart from that -- as a good time: a kind, forgiving, charitable, pleasant time: the only time I know of, in the long calendar of the year, when men and women seem by one consent to open their shut-up hearts freely, and to think of people below them as if they really were fellow-passengers to the grave, and not another race of creatures bound on other journeys.  And therefore, uncle, though it has never put a scrap of gold or silver in my pocket, I believe that it has done me good, and will do me good; and I say, God bless it!"
So, take all the good out of it you can. Do good to others. Be merry. But please spare me the guilt-tripping sanctimony of the too often heard complaint from sensitive "Christians" that secular humanism and sacrilegious silliness are conspiring to take all the Christian meaning out of the holiday (i.e., Holy Day). Historically, it was Cromwell's Puritans who tried to destroy all the festivities of what they considered the excesses of "popery." Even President Monson believes in Santa Claus, for heaven's sake! Everyone can at least try to smile. And if they don't, just let them be, love them anyway, and hope the ghosts of Christmas visit them someday.

Many of the traditions we enjoy come from non-religious, even pagan practices. There is no scriptural reference to a Christmas tree in the stable or even any celebrations of Christmas later in the early church of the New Testament. There is this, however:
I Nephi 11:20-23.

It doesn't bother me that the Christmas tree came from pagan practices incorporated into medieval Christianity. The universal symbolism of a Tree of Life goes back to the beginning of time and that symbol is Christ even if other belief systems may see it differently.

I had to change the photo because one of my children noticed
his picture was not included in the somewhat random shot I had taken.
Our family Christmas tree is kind of a "hodge-podge" of disorganized ornaments, lights, candy, and various things collected over the years. The most precious to me are the ornaments our children made in Primary with their little pictures, sometimes with a Temple. Yes, the Love of God which sheddeth itself abroad in the hearts of the children of men.

We need some more of those picture ornaments from the grandkids.

Peace. And Joy!

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