Jackson Turner had a way with flowers. Some say he could coax a rose out of a dead thorn bush and turn brown grass to green just by walking on it. Jackson was the new owner of Four Seasons Flower Shop and his horticultural expertise soon spread throughout the small town of Harpersville. The most unusual thing about Jackson, however, was the way he greeted people. No matter what day of the year, nor time of day, he always greeted everyone with a hearty “Merry Christmas!”
Some people looked at him as if they hadn’t heard him correctly; others shook their heads in dismay. Some responded with chuckles, while others gave replies like “Bah! Humbug!” or “You crazy, man? It’s July” or “Happy New Year to you, too!” No one seemed interested enough to ask him why he gave such a greeting; no one, that is, until ten-year-old Polly Parks came to his shop.
When the bell on the shop door announced Polly’s entrance, Jackson turned to greet her. “Merry Christmas, young lady!” he beamed.
Polly just stared. She had heard about his weird way of saying “hello”.
“May I help you with something?”
“I’d like to buy a rose for my mother.”
“Ah, and what is the special occasion?”
“It’s not an occasion. She’s sick.”
“Oh, I’m sorry to hear that.” Jackson’s voice dropped. “But, you came to the right place – I have the most beautiful rose grown specially for your mother.”
“Is it red?”
“Indeed! Red is the right color to make anyone feel better.”
“Why do you say ‘Merry Christmas’ when it’s not Christmas?”
“What is your name, young lady?”
“Well, Miss Polly Parks, if you will sit on the stool here while I prepare the rose for your mother, I’ll share the story of why I say ‘Merry Christmas’”.
Polly climbed up on the stool and waited eagerly, while Jackson began trimming the long stemmed rose..
“On that first Christmas Day long ago, God sent a baby into the world to an ordinary couple. But the baby was not ordinary. He was God’s son.”
“I know. It was Jesus.” Polly chimed in.
“Oh, then, perhaps you know the story.”
“I know. God sent him to save the people of the world from their sin.”
“That’s right. Do you know how He did that, Polly?”
“He died on the cross, right? And, then He came back alive.”
“Do you believe Jesus died for you, Polly?”
“Yes, I took Jesus into my heart last year and asked him to forgive my sins. I’ve been baptized, too.”
“Well, Miss Polly, then you should know that because Jesus came that first Christmas, for those who have received Him as their savior, every day is Christmas.”
“And that’s why you say it!”
“Exactly. When I say ‘Merry Christmas’, I’m wanting everyone to know about who Jesus is and why He came. There’s a song that I remember that goes like this:
Christmas isn’t Christmas
Till it happens in your heart
Somewhere deep inside you
Is where Christmas really starts.
So if you give your heart to Jesus
You’ll discover when you do
That it’s Christmas, really Christmas for you.*
And, Miss Polly, when that happens then every day truly is Christmas for that person.” Jackson handed Polly the red rose wrapped in green paper and tied with red ribbon.
“How much do I owe you?”
“Nothing. It is my pleasure to share the meaning of my greeting and to share this rose with you and your mother,” he smiled. “You could say it‘s a Christmas gift.”
“Then, I’ll just say, thank you, and, by the way, ‘Merry Christmas!’” Polly skipped out the door and hurried home.
“Polly, is that you?” her mother called from the bedroom when she heard the front door open..
“Merry Christmas, Momma!” Polly burst into the room.
“Merry Christmas? Why on earth would you say that in July?”
“I‘m glad you asked.“ She handed the rose to her mother. “As soon as I get a vase, I’ll share the whole story.”
Jackson Turner had a way with flowers - and with people. Soon, many people in Harpersville began to greet each other in a most unconventional fashion - saying “Merry Christmas”. It was a way of reminding themselves and each other that every day is the Lord’s. Every day is Christmas Day.
*"Christmas Isn't Christmas" lyrics by Jimmy and Carol Olsen
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