I love the Christmas season, and almost everything about it. I celebrate two different, and for the most part, entirely separate occasions.
One is all about Jesus' birth. That celebration has profound significance. I love Advent, and yesterday we began the season out at The OASIS with lighting the first candle on our beautiful Advent wreath and reading a passage from Isaiah. I love the familiar words of scripture this time of year. I love to ponder and pray. The wonder of incarnation, of "the-Word-became-flesh," is always deep, mysterious and moving to me. I love Christmas carols, especially the old ones, especially when they are beautifully played or sung. I love the preparations and even the sometimes difficult attempt to preach and minister in ways that will be meaningful to those who join me at worship. I love Christmas Eve services whether I am a pew participant or am presiding.
Then there is the other Christmas. That celebration is about fun. About lights. About the big wreath on our house. About my late mother's delicious orange nut bread that is a must-have of the season. About baking Jule Kaga, another must-have bread of Norwegian origin. About reading Dickens, "A Christmas Carol." I love the entire, unabridged, wordy but delightful story. And it is about watching "How the Grinch Stole Christmas" with my grandchild, Trinity (the original cartoon, not that long, horrible, overblown movie). It's about gifts, about decorating the tree and remembering past years, about looking forward to seeing family members and anticipating the delight we will have watching our newest grandchild, Noah. He is a toddler now and beginning to play and to notice things in new ways.
I don't worry about whether people say "Merry Christmas" or "Happy Holidays." Demanding that people who don't share your faith pretend to honor your faith is a waste of time and energy. And since I'm often at a store, when someone greets me this time of year, it is usually about that second celebration anyway, not the holy one. Both have value but are not the same, and sometimes they don't really mix all that well.
I suspect that Jesus, if he were here in the flesh, would have fun too. There would be plenty to cause him grief, but he would also enjoy the good things. He might even say, "Happy Holidays" to the store clerk. Or "Happy Hanukkah" if she were Jewish. And he would treat her with respect and take time to really "see" her. He would smile at her. He would let the old man go first at the checkout line.
And he would enjoy a slice of orange nut bread and remember my mother with me.
And maybe I'd share the cassette tape my father gave me years ago--the homemade one that has banjo versions of Christmas songs and bears my father's destinctive print, in green marker, "Pretty good one!" I don't love the music, but I love and miss my daddy so I keep the tape. Jesus would get that.
Would he enjoy our Christmas tree with its garland of tiny Norweigan flags? Would he smile to think of how we have remembered my husband's mother all these years by doing something she always did, continuing that little gesture in honor of family orgins?
Would Jesus like my chocolate fudge, I wonder? I think he would.