One of my most cherished childhood memories involves Christmas Eve. When I was young (less than 10 years old), our church, Zion Lutheran Church in downtown Akron, Ohio, had a Christmas Eve pageant on Christmas Eve night. Afterwards, my mom and dad would walk my sister and I down the hill (you’d have to be from Akron to know what I mean — it was some hill!) and we’d walk along South Main Street and look at the animated windows that Polsky’s and O’Neil’s had up. Then we’d walk back up to the church parking lot and go home.
What is mostly attached to that memories, besides remembering my parents, is how peaceful that night was. There was very little traffic, I can’t ever remember feeling unsafe, and there was an almost unworldly calm that I associate with Christmas to this day.
Yesterday is what is known in retail parlance as “Black Friday”. It kicks off the “selling” season that has NOTHING to do with Christmas, and it was anything but peaceful. Here in Northeast Ohio, in a relatively prosperous community called Strongsville, there was a virtual riot at a Victoria’s Secret. Listen to the video below, filmed just before the store happened and the “riot” occurred.
In California, a woman pepper-sprayed the other shoppers in her vicinity so she could have the advantage.
I despair, sometimes, because many people who call themselves Christians aren’t and damage Jesus’ name. This “holiday” and all that it has become goes one step further in making a mockery of my faith. The magi didn’t claw their way through a mall to bring Jesus gold, frankincense and myrrh to honor him.
And the real reason for remembering Jesus’ birth is about his ultimate gift to us — he died on the cross, suffered rejection from His Father, so we could have eternal life. Not so we could mangle each other for a gift that will likely be returned or broken or be ultimately meaningless.
This is not my Christmas, not any more. I have decided I don’t need a special day for remembering Jesus. Yes, I will probably participate in a few things — do the “secret Santa” thing at work, for example — but Christmas isn’t just one day. Not for me.
“I will honour Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year” Ebenezer Scrooge