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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: Christmas Carols/Carolling (10/02/08)

TITLE: He Knows If You've Been Bad Or Good . . .
By Judith Gayle Smith


Christmas Eve - my late Mother's birthday. Her Mother was Jewish, and people would often gush over my Mother in front of Gram - telling Gram what a wonderful Christmas present she received from YHWH! Gram hated all things Christmas back then - she especially hated Santa Claus.

I'm no fan of Santa Claus - too many people give him the attributes of God: "He sees you when you're sleeping, he knows when you're awake - he knows if you've been bad or good, so be good for goodness' sake". Is Santa omnipotent? Omnipresent? I think not.

It greatly disturbs me that when children finally come to the realization that there is no fat-bellied Coca-Cola guzzling jolly old elf with a magical sleigh pulled by eight tiny reindeer - what are they going to think when we tell them of the Christ? Will He also be relegated to the mythology of well-intentioned folk who, because children - not seeing "shades of grey", seeing things in stark black and white, realize they have been lied to about Santa - so maybe the Christ also isn't real?

As a tot, I lived for the day that I would be good enough to be permitted to climb up on the roof to feed carrots to Santa's reindeer. I never was good enough - no matter how hard I tried. I never tied to the fact that Santa's favorite cookies were the same as my Daddy's. How I feared the dreaded lumps of coal that might appear in my Christmas stocking.

Daddy - in very sonorous "King James" speech, intoned the "Christmas story" from the Book of Luke on Christmas Eve. But as children, our minds were not on the Holy Baby - our minds were on the one gift we could open on Christmas Eve. Mom got to open her Birthday gifts on Christmas Eve - and unselfishly, she allowed us to share in her special day. We always seemed to pick the wrong ones - mittens, socks or underwear.

We always had a last-minute Christmas tree - Mom said it was best because it would last through New Year's Day. So our custom was to decorate the tree on Christmas Eve, taking it down New Year's Day. By then the needles were so dry they strewed the floor beyond the "skirt" we made from an old bedsheet.

But what fun to toss the tinsel on the tree! Don't clump! My big Sis would meticulously hang one glistening strand at a time. I chose to ball it up and toss it in. You know now who the artist in our family is! And the angel hair! So very dangerous, we were not allowed to touch it! Spun glass - it would shred our fingers to ribbons, or so we thought. And the ornaments - Mom kept them all through the years, and wept bitterly if one broke.

I realize now that the last-minute Christmas tree was because we were unable to afford the better ones. These were marked way down or even given free to those who could not afford them. Mom and Dad did their best to fulfill our Christmas wishes - playing "Russian Roulette" with the bills that month. We did a lot of thrift store shopping.

We made a lot of our gifts. Glitter and macaroni and paste! Bread dough gifts were fun to make! And candles! Humongous candles, with hot wax poured into milk cartons, allowed to harden - and then decorated with "whipped" wax and more glitter and sometimes tiny ornaments or even wax flowers! I remember spending hours making a paper mache` llama!

We lived up in the mountains for a brief time. I remember gathering wood - braving so many spiders! And Mom baking. And cleaning. Even the walls and woodwork had to be cleaned, because Gram wore the dreaded white gloves. My sister and were allowed to wash all the beautiful dishes after dinner! Sometimes Mom gave us 50 cents apiece for doing them! I have pictures of Mom totally exhausted on Christmas Day - unable to enjoy it for sheer weariness.

Yes, Christmas is a magical time - but is it a holy time? Is it a time for soberly thinking about WHY the Christ was born? The purpose for which He came? Sure - we can go to church services at Christmas time - as most also do at Easter. And ignore Him the rest of the year.

I still love the carolling - I could sing my heart out, and was in every choir I could possibly find. But all this glitter and wonder and greed - does it glorify God? Does it glorify His Christ? As children, did we truly learn the joys of giving - or more the joys of receiving? I would like to think the former. We were raised to love beyond ourselves.

But what of the Christ? As children we conceptualize Him as a babe - a little harmless fellow, who we could cuddle in our hearts as we did our favorite dolls. And then put Him back in his cradle until the following Christmas when we could take Him out and adore Him as an infant once more. But WHY did we adore Him? Did we know? Would Jesus turn out to be as unreal as Santa Claus someday? When we read in Scripture that God is the giver of all good gifts - what does that make Santa? God?

I would consider Christmas a Holy Day only if the day was totally spent in study of exactly why Jesus had to die for us all...

Otherwise, Christmas would make as much sense as sticking our tongues to a metal pole during a winter frost.

Yes, I understand the angels gave glory and informed the shepherds in the fields of Jesus's birth - but they told the shepherds WHY He came, not just that He came.

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Member Comments
Member Date
Carole Robishaw 10/09/08
Some of this story could have been mine, good piece, but just barely one topic. I did like it, though.
Jan Ackerson 10/09/08
Nice voice--it's recommended to avoid exclamation points in a narrative, and to save them for dialogue only.

I appreciate your reflections on Christmas here.
Lollie Hofer10/10/08
I understand what you're saying here. We do celebrate Christmas with all the hoopala but we chose to teach our children about Jesus' birth first. They were probably about four years old before they understood that there was a Santa Claus in the picture. We explained that Santa Claus was a fictional character but that just like other fictional characters, (Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck, Winnie-the Pooh, etc.), they could have fun pretending. Neither of our children said they felt cheated because we didn't concoct a Santa Claus for them when they were little. Thanks for reminding us as to Who truly is the Omnipotent One.
Marlene Austin10/12/08
Many good comparisons made here, but seems the topic is more "celebrating" than "caroling" - ?
Karlene Jacobsen10/13/08
I remember the day my kids told their grandma there is no santa. My husband and I were in the perverbial dog house for years. We were told how we were depriving our children of the "joys" of Christmas. Oddly, we didn't tell the kids, their friends did. I would love to see people as passionate about including Jesus in their Christmas celebrations. I know they're out there.

Good story, thanks for writing.