December 24, 2010
I have two children – Thomas Jackson, soon turning four, and Sarah Connor Snodgrass, who just turned two. Last Christmas, Jackson was just about to turn three. He likely did not notice that the days had been getting shorter, and had just begun to get longer. Jackson did not know about the fall of humanity, and the savior God sent to get people on the rise again. Jackson didn’t even know about Santa Claus!
But one day he woke up and the whole world had changed. The house was full of relatives who’d traveled far to shower him with food, warmth, familial love and gifts. Gifts! On this day of all days, even his dad couldn’t get on his case (not with all
those relatives around)! Well, Christmas passed, the relatives went home, the leftovers dwindled, the toys and clothes got toddlerized, and my son slipped into something of a melancholy. He started saying things, nonsense syllables strung together, but with that one word somewhere in there. BAH-ba-Blah-da-BLAH-blah-Christmas.”
And I realized…he was trying to remind me of something that he thought I’d forgotten. To Jackson, Christmas had not been one day of celebration, but a drastic re-structuring of society in which all energy would from henceforth be focused on lavishing food, love, warmth and gifts upon him. He thought Christmas was a revolution, and that nothing could ever be the same. But then the revolution was over, forgotten, and everybody just went on as if nothing had happened.
At the time, I’ll admit, I enjoyed this. You know, children are the most expensive form of free entertainment on Earth, so you take what you can get. And I was quietly amused, thinking “yeah, kid, just wait till you’re my age, and the most colorful thing you get for Christmas is wrapping paper, with the same gray thermal shirt I get every year.” But, as I’ve continued to think about it…maybe he was right, maybe I was wrong. Maybe that’s what Christmas SHOULD be, a drastic restructuring of society in which all energy is focused on giving food, warmth, love and gifts to children.
I study the Bible all the time, I have a Masters Degree in it, but somehow I think this three-year-old understood Christmas better than I do. The Gospel authors didn’t think of the birth of Jesus as a yearly festival of over-eating, credit cards and traffic jams… Well, traffic jam, yes, with all the descendants of David (and Solomon!) showing up in Bethlehem… But the Gospel authors really thought…after the coming of Jesus…nothing could ever be the same.