Poking Sacred Cows: Part One
Category : Glenda's Soap Box
You have to be pretty careful when you start poking the proverbial sacred cows that people hold dear. Just on the front end so I don’t keep you in any suspense, I will let you know that the sacred cow I am fixing to poke is the event known in our culture as ‘Christmas’. If you are not okay with that, it would be wisdom for you to stop reading now. (As someone in my family would say, ‘Don’t be messing with MY Christmas!’)
If someone had asked me years ago if I knew when the celebration of Christmas had its beginning, I would have probably answered that it was, of course, celebrated by those who were the closest to Jesus when He was on the earth. Sounds perfectly rational. They knew Him. They would certainly have had reason to celebrate when it came to His birth. They would have even known his mother, Mary. It would have been reasonable to me at that point to believe He may have even had birthday parties during His lifetime. But, certainly those closest to him would have honored the day of His coming to Earth after He left for Heaven.
Fast forward to the last couple of years of my life. I started doing a bit of research to find out how the holiday of Christmas began. Needless to say, I didn’t find what I thought I would find.
Let me give a bit of background so any who don’t know me will know my history on this issue. I have always loved Christmas. Christmas trees twinkling with beautiful lights, fragile Christmas ornaments, homemade decorations (popcorn strands and construction paper chains), brightly wrapped presents, fuzzy stockings, peppermint sticks, glitter on everything, nativity scenes, making Christmas cards, evergreen wreaths, mistletoe, poinsettias, chocolate covered cherries, singing carols, Christmas dinner with family, giving gifts, Santa Claus, Rudolph and the flying sleigh. The whole tamale. Loved it.
One of my fondest memories as a child was visiting my grandparents in Flintville, Tennessee during the Christmas holidays. Two things stand out for me: 1. My sweet grandmother, who trekked out on the farmland and personally cut down an aromatic cedar tree with an axe and decorated it with all her old ornaments, tinsel and the light strings with those huge multi-color bulbs, so it would be there when we arrived and; 2. I was thoroughly convinced back then that the guy in the red suit would NEVER find us in Flintville to deliver our presents! As my Dad used to say, Flintville was such a small town that the sign before you arrived had both "Welcome" and "Hurry Back" on the same side!
It got a bit more complex when I committed my life to Jesus in 1974, and it was at that point where I began (in baby steps) trying to separate the secular aspects from the sacred aspects of Christmas. I tried and failed continually. I could never, ever reconcile all of the diverse facets of the holiday that never quite seemed to fit together. My head told me that God must really love this special holiday, but my heart was not so sure.
Allow me to digress to mention a mysterious occurrence that happened when I was a child. My maternal grandfather, who I loved dearly, and who was possibly the grouchiest person (or so I thought) I had encountered thus far in my short life added a wrench in what I knew to be a totally harmless and wonderful holiday, where both money, candy and presents came my way. He decided (but never explained why) that certain traditions of Christmas were ungodly. He did everything but beg people not to give him any presents. He was dead serious, apparently feeling the weight of the fear of God on that issue. He wanted absolutely no involvement in Christmas, save going to his country Methodist church, singing carols and hearing the story of the birth of Jesus retold from the book of Luke. That was it. No presents. No tree. No decorations. No Santa. No reindeer. Period. The end. (We kind of viewed him as a party pooper because we did not understand the 'whys' of his position on Christmas.)
Me and my sister thought he had lost his mind! After all, who in the right mind would not want to celebrate Christmas?
Check back for the next blog in this saga entitled- Poking Sacred Cows: Part Two…