There is Reformed chatter of late over the season and its reason, or non-reason, depending on who you ask. The arguments for the latter are well formulated enough. I’m hoping that those inclined to put the kabosh on nativity-ism and advent-i-osity might press their arguments into the contemporary service of re-thinking Reformation Day Calvinpalooza’s. (There is just something painfully ironic about throwing parties for a guy buried in an unmarked grave.) Will the same ones who brag about staying home next Friday morning to sip eggnog also be found bobbing for apples on October 31? Here’s hoping.
Meanwhile, I continue to enjoy my own family reputation for sitting all lumpenleisure-like while my more outgoing father, younger daughter and wife deck the Christmas Tree. My oldest has inherited my contrarian inclination. Our refusal has less to do with any principled protest against Christmas goings on (I love Christmas-time) and more with just not liking forced cheer and fun. This year we were told if we didn’t participate we’d get no cookies. I have a brutal sweet tooth, so I hoisted the youngest as she topped the tree with an angel. I must say, the Tree looks great, and I plug it in every night. And, hopeless midwesterner that I was born and bred to be, I also brave the frigid temperatures to plug and unplug the outdoor lights, which I insisted on stringing this year. And I do lots of other festive-y stuff. Still I am branded the family Grinch, simply because I have some sort of thing about the blessed Tree. But as I read the Bar Jester’s latest entry, and find myself feeling like the protagonist to his antagonists, maybe there’s more to it?
If enough people call you “Scrooge” or “Grinch,” and if they do it enough times, you can almost believe that they’re trying to flatter rather than compliment you. But then if you attend to them a little more closely than you promised yourself you would, you begin to realize that they think they’re actually insulting you. They think your disaffection with Christmas is a bad thing.
Then the pieces begin to fall into place. They keep saying they want “Christ” put back in “Christmas,” whereas you’d settle for putting the “mass” back in “Christmas.”
They want to go to their worship auditoriums and reenact the nativity, complete with hay and oxen and asses; you want to partake the holy birth.
They make a point of saying “Merry Christmas” to all the Secular Humanists who wish them “happy holidays”; you just shrug your shoulders, spike the eggnog, and deviate not a hair’s breadth from making your holy days as happy as propriety allows.
They call Jesus the “Greatest Gift of All” (who came “wrapped in ribbons of love”) and snatch for themselves a metaphysical sanction for the annual Visa-borne glut; you unwrap yet another unrequested coat, which the Greatest Gift of All commands to you to give away, and sigh in affected gratitude as your thoughts drift toward the beneficial uses of arsenic.
They think “Silent Night” is a great song; you think it’s sentimental schlock.
They want to go on and on about “the true meaning of Christmas”; you’ve been meditating it your whole life and still couldn’t say for sure what it is.
They express the mystery of the Incarnation in “Happy Birthday, Jesus”; you consider reading St. Athanasius again but think better of it and reach instead for all the pills in the medicine cabinet and a bottle of Absolut.