Thursday, December 25, 2014

The Celebration

Joe walked by the row shops with holiday decorations. He always found the gymnastics amusing. Some still used evergreen branches and holly, hoping not to be noticed for it.Others seemed to be trying for every other type of tree or plant. Others avoided greenery altogether. He passed a balloon tree, all gold and red with not a trace of green. Occasionally you saw an elf or something of that sort, but there were more clowns and more dogs and cats than reindeer. And Santa was a problem. Some had a look-alike and called him Father Holiday or even Mr. Holiday. Some still called him Santa and hoped no one would connect it to Saint Nicholas  and from there to Christianity. The really bold ones would put him with Hanukkah Harry and other alternatives and hope the egalitarianism would save them. It probably would not. 

Joe felt sorry for the storekeepers. All they really wanted to do was sell stuff and not offend anyone. And there seemed to a large contingent of people who made a point of being offended by anything "religious." Joe suspected they were a minority, but a very vocal minority was all it took to affect commercial behavior. Merchants were not generally known for standing up to that type of pressure where money was involved. For a while, Hanukkah had been all right, being a minority belief. Santa lasted longer. But there were more and more people who only felt comfortable if everything was entirely neutral. There were, of course, still some Christians who went around obnoxiously insisting on making a point of Christmas. Joe wished they would stop; it was not a way to win friends or influence people.

He walked into one of the stores. "Happy Holidays," said the greeter looking very nervous. Joe had spoken to her in the past about Christ, and she knew where he was coming from.

"Happy Holidays," he returned. He had better things to do than make people uncomfortable or try to get them fired. There would be other times to witness in a meaningful manner. 

He bought a few extra things  for supper. They were having roast beef, a change of pace. Nothing against turkey, but there was nothing specifically Christian about it either.

When Joe made it home, the other families were already there. They had supper together and spoke of what God had done during the year. They read Scripture, lit the Advent Candles, sang carols, and played games. Later, they would gather with the rest of the congregation for a candlelight service and celebration of Christ's birth. And if they really wanted to, they could celebrate the holiday season on January first (nothing clearly "religious" about that date) with everybody else. Maybe it was better this way.

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