Ya know, before Bill O’Reilly was found to be a creepy-crawler with a Clinton/Trump-like drive, I was down with his Christian outrage over the secular assault on Christmas. You might say (though you probably wouldn’t because you’d be ridiculed), “They’ve stolen the baby Jesus from the manger and sold him out for a popcorn ball, a fruitcake and the latest X-Box game.”
Who does the ACLU think the wise men found in that manger anyway? The baby Bill Maher? I think not! Each Christmas season, a bigger stink is made of anything godly, but don’t we have enough big stinks with terrorism, gang violence and Amway?
I’m very aware of the “reason for the season,” which is that young man born in Bethlehem some 3,000 years ago (although some say it was a few billion years, but let’s not split hairs. Either way, it’s historically factual).
Although Jesus is that season reason, receiving gifts is a close, second-place finisher not to be taken lightly. Although it’s clearly more advantageous — at least in a sense of coming out ahead financially — to receive than to give, I see the beauty in the latter also. I’ve always taken a great, albeit a perverse, satisfaction in wrapping unconventional gifts for my little nieces and nephews.
Years ago, I’d often take everyday items from my kitchen — say a can of beans or an over-ripe pear — and present them to the little cherubs to unwrap. I’ve developed quite a poker face when need be, and would say something like, “I hope you like it. Merry Christmas, kids.”
Their mouths would drop open and best-case scenario, I’d get a weak, “Thank you, Uncle Doug.” It was as if, although stunned and disappointed, they didn’t want to hurt my feelings. That look, my friends, is priceless. Of course, when they outgrew their cuteness, I pretty much quit giving gifts altogether. After all, commercialism and capitalism are not the reason for the season. I go much deeper than that.
Perhaps I inherited that scrupulous Christian mindset from my dad, Alfred P. Blough, who often balked at buying a Christmas tree. My and my sister’s begging usually won the day, but looking back, I guess ol’ Alf was simply adhering to heartfelt principles. Sure, dad was so cheap he once lost a quarter in the horse’s feed trough and rode backwards for weeks, but you had to pinch pennies in those days.
In a somewhat related note, I’m often miffed when my house isn’t chosen for the annual, Christmas home tour. After painstakingly draping cooked spaghetti noodles over lampshades and strategically placing decorative balls in the litter boxes, it’s a real punch in the gut to see the photos in the paper of the chosen homes.
The way I look at it, one judge’s revulsion is another’s treasure. It’s the community’s loss if they never see all my knick knacks and paddy-whacks, so I’ll just give my dog a bone. (Never a chicken bone, of course.)
Hey, I’m no stranger to rejection, and even though my home again wasn’t chosen, it will still be a merry Christmas (not “holiday season”) at my quote/unquote “tarpaper shack.” I’m not concerned with keeping up with the Coes, and no ACLU is gonna keep Jesus out of my Christmas. He is always welcome at my house (of course not in certain rooms) and will never be asked to take off his muddy sandals.
In fact, while spending quality time at my house, I wonder if he isn’t warmly reminded of the stable smells where Christ the savior was born. Might he be thinking, “Boy, does this take me back”?
I hope you, too, are reminded of his miraculous birthday this week and celebrate appropriately. I wish you a wonderful Christmas, and may your stockings be filled with an assortment of canned beans and other vegetables.