‘Tis the season!
Wait for it. Wait. Any day now a Grinch somewhere will wake up with an uncontrollable urge to suck the joy out of the upcoming holiday season. It will begin with a remark about how annoying it is to hear festive, quasi-religious music being piped into the local supermarket. The snide comment will grow into a full-blown furor about a teacher or a principal who has allowed a Christmas tree, some multi-colored lights or a creche scene to infiltrate the sanctity of a secular classroom. There will also be the requisite diatribe about how shopping malls are being desecrated with tinsel-enhanced decorations.
There is occasionally a more scholarly and intellectual approach that disputes the historical accuracy of the original event. Those who will listen are quickly informed about the inconsistencies, “did you know that Christmas wasn’t originally in December?” as if this recently enlightened person’s calculations will alter the traditional date set for Jesus’ world-wide birthday party.
A haughty complaint here and a grumble there and suddenly the tree with the star atop disappears, the lights are extinguished, and the creche scene, well once again Mary, Joseph and of course baby Jesus are all forced to take flight. It is unclear what emotional rush the Grinch gains from this disruption other than the smug feeling that one must get when selfish needs are satisfied at the expense of another person’s pleasure.
For the most part, the anti-celebration outrage is manufactured. For issue seeking people, world hunger, war, and child slavery are just not big enough causes. At this time of year, haranguing others for their symbols of faith becomes a crusade for offended non-believers. It is not enough for them that they do not celebrate but they must also inform all those within shouting range that their audio-visual freedoms are being violated. A wreath, a carol, a series of candles or lights seems to have a destabilizing effect on these seasonal grouches.
However, all around the world people will be preparing to celebrate. For many, it is a time to promote peace and be joyful. People will gather in small and large groupings to share food and drinks, exchange gifts, listen to festive music, and enjoy each other’s company. Regardless of the location of the celebration, a house, a church, a rented hall, it does not matter, the result is the same – joy. It also becomes a catalyst for caring for others who are not as fortunate and an inspiration to many to provide at least the essentials if not a few extras for the needy.
During this season of giving and good will, is it too much to ask that the naysayers hold their peace as others share theirs? Or perhaps they could get involved. There is ample opportunity to participate. Who knows, perhaps these joy thieves might be inspired and have a change of heart and join in the celebrations this holiday season! In the words of one of Dickens’ most loveable characters, “God bless us, every one!”