Tuesday, December 13, 2011

A Difficult Year and a Different Take on the Use of the Word 'Christmas'

In sticking with my archives theme for this December here on the blog, I glanced through December 2007, having already posted things from 2004-2006. That was a difficult year for us, however, and the posts are not particularly cheery or festive. Andy's dear mom died fairly suddenly of a fierce cancer at Thanksgiving time; Andy lost his job working for a well-known Christian ministry after a very ugly turn of events in which our own committee chair turned on us and falsely accused us of embezzlement; our truck was stolen and vandalized, then recovered and towed to impound--which we had to pay for in addition to the needed repairs. We moved our own household twice that year and moved Andy's folks once--then his Dad again, alone after Mom died; Andy had to scramble to work on construction projects around our home to make it livable for his dad to move in with us and still find a way to make a living to pay our bills. It was a really, really difficult year.

The only post I found in December 2007's archives that was close to something I would want to repost now was this one. It is sweet, in a sad way, and it rambles and ambles in several different directions, but it sums up well what our life was like at that time in our lives. I just didn't feel like posting it, however, so if you want a picture of that time in our lives, you can click that link above and read it yourself. If you are really interested and weren't a reader of mine back then, you could click into the whole month of archives for December 2007. You will find all the posts surrounding Mom C.'s memorial service, which were my attempt to honor her by accurately portraying the family's farewell. I still can't read them without tears leaking out.

Instead, I would like to reprint here an article that I wrote in the 2007 Christmas season as a letter to the editors of the local newspapers. They all ran it. The letter was in response to publicity for an event that Chidwick School of Fine Woodworking held at the beginning of December, featuring an introduction to our school for the community and lots of different ways to spend money on things like classes, lumber and woodworking items, all at drastically reduced prices. In addition, we offered live music and yummy food. It was a really nice event, but the trouble, in the form of one scathing email sent from someone we don't know, came as a result of us deciding to call it a "Holiday Open House." We were chastised strongly for being among the pagans who refuse to acknowledge and celebrate "CHRISTMAS."

The following was my response, printed in all three of the local newspapers:

In response to all the hubbub regarding the use of the word “holiday” versus “Christmas” by retailers, I would like to offer a different perspective.

We celebrate Christmas in our home - and not the Santa, Jingle Bells and Frosty the Snowman variety, either - the real Christmas, the glorious King of the Universe disguised as a tiny babe of humble means, 2,000 years ago. That is what Christmas is and should always be about.

However, I am not offended when retailers choose not to use the word "Christmas” when advertising for their big sales. What does glitz and glitter and shopping have to do with Christmas, anyway? To insist that commercial businesses refer to plain and simple American consumerism as “Christmas” is ridiculous. Is God feeling put out that American retailers have begun to leave Him out of their annual greed festival?

Perhaps I am coming on a little too strong here. We do exchange gifts in our family, after all, although we spend only a fraction of what the typical family spends, focusing rather on creative gifts which require time and effort. We are not completely opposed to gift giving, but for us, it is a symbol, an expression of the incredible gift that was given us. It is not the main attraction of Christmas for us.

There are many holidays celebrated at this time of year, and most of them have become centered around the giving of gifts. So, if retailers want to slash their prices and run all sorts of gimmicks for “the holidays” rather than for “Christmas,” that is fine with me. I do my best to steer clear of the stores and television at this time of year anyway. Honestly, I would rather keep Christmas sacred.

I do hope everyone had a joyous Christmas season, celebrating the greatest gift the world has ever known. May we never forget or allow its significance to fade in comparison to the glitz and glamor of the commercial world's "most wonderful time of the year." Merry Christmas, and may God touch your life in an unmistakable way in the coming year.

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