Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: The Reason for the Season of Christmas (12/04/08)
TITLE: Good Enough
By Rick Higginson
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He picked up one of the Christmas cards off my desk. “Jesus is the reason for the season,” he read the cover aloud, with just enough disdain. “You do know, don’t you, that December 25th couldn’t possibly be the birth date, even if Jesus really existed?”
“I’m well aware of that fact,” I replied, not looking away from the monitor.
“You are? That’s funny; I could have sworn the cards you passed out had a painting of the Nativity scene on them. Why choose those if you know that Christmas isn’t the correct date?”
“You’re the guy with all the degrees, Russ; if you can tell me the correct date, I’ll start sending the cards then.”
“The best scholarly accounts place the date in either spring or fall, based on the conditions described in the stories. No one recorded the exact date, though.”
I turned towards him with a slight smile. “So you can’t give me an accurate birthday for Jesus?”
“Well, no, but there would certainly be better guesses than December 25th.”
“But they would still be guesses, right? We’d have no more indication of them being correct than we have now for Christmas.”
“True, but-” Russ really hates conceding anything.
“Look; I’ve heard loads of stories of how the birth of Jesus got associated with December 25th, from Constantine giving a new meaning to a Roman holiday, to those who genuinely believe that it really is His birthday. I’ve heard them all, and I don’t care.”
He looked surprised. “You don’t care? I thought you were really religious.”
“Being religious has nothing to do with the date, but everything to do with the attitude. You can argue all you want about your facts, but Christmas isn’t so much about facts, as it is about feelings.”
“Ah, so you admit Christianity ignores facts in favor of feelings, then?”
“No, I didn’t say Christianity; I said Christmas. Christianity relies on the facts of Jesus, but Christmas focuses our feelings. We don’t know what day He was born, so Christmas Day is just widely agreed upon as the day we celebrate it. On that particular day, we make a special effort to revisit the feelings of joy, love, and generosity that accompanied His birth.”
“Correction; the feelings that your stories say accompanied the birth; you don’t actually have proof that any of the Biblical account of Christmas happened.”
“Wrong, Russ; maybe we can’t prove those things happened two thousand years ago, but we still see them happening today, and we have records of those feelings happening throughout history. There are plenty of reports of wars being paused to embrace peace at Christmas. People who might not care or give any other time of year will do so at the Holidays. Families that don’t see each other for eleven months get back together.”
“But, it’s all based in a myth.”
“So you believe; others of us believe it’s truth,” I leaned back in my chair and stretched. “But, what if it is a myth? So what? Does that make the reality of people caring also a myth? Is the hot meal the homeless get just imaginary? Did the men on the battlefield just pretend to not shoot at each other during a Christmas cease-fire? Is a family reconciliation any less real if our reasons for it are based in an old fable?”
“We could do all that without the fable,” he objected.
“We could, but all too often we don’t. Regardless of what day He was born, Russ, Jesus is still the reason for this season. I believe the accounts that He came to bring the message of God’s love and forgiveness to the world, and that the angels saying ‘peace on Earth, goodwill toward men,’ is more than just a platitude. You believe it’s nothing but folklore, like Paul Bunyan.”
“Exactly; if Jesus really lived, then He’s just as much God as Paul Bunyan was a towering giant.”
“Either way, some of us try to celebrate His message of peace and goodwill every day.” I stood up and extended my hand. “Almost everyone celebrates it on Christmas, though, and that’s good enough for me.”
He accepted my hand. “You're right; it is good enough.”
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