Tuesday, December 21, 2010

The Reason for the Season

Seems like Christmas has gotten (is gotten a word?) more complicated than I remember it. Saw the old Dragnet episode recently where, on Christmas Eve, Father Rojas at the Old Mission Plaza Church in Los Angeles discovers that the statue of the Infant Jesus is stolen from the crib. The statue's worth is only a few dollars, but it is of great sentimental value for the parish. Joe Friday and his partner Frank Smith promise to try to get it back before mass on Christmas Day, but this means that they have less than 24 hours to catch the thief. The detectives pursue a few leads, but come up empty. As they return to give Father Rojas the bad news, a small Mexican boy is pulling a wagon up the aisle with the statue in it. The boy had prayed for a new wagon and promised the baby Jesus the first ride if he received it.

That charming little story reminded me that, as the saying goes, Jesus is the reason for the season. It's hard to focus on the true meaning of Christmas with all the hubbub surrounding it. For example, we are now fighting what has become an annual battle over whether it's OK to wish someone a Merry Christmas, or if it's more politically correct to say Happy Holiday. Christmas Nativity scenes that adorned many public places are now banned because some intolerant morons are too tight-assed to just get in the spirit of the season and wish their fellow man (or must I say man and woman) peace and goodwill. I don't have the time or space, nor you the patience, to argue this out here. For so many years there was no problem, why all of a sudden are we under attack by the Christmas haters? It's so stupid.

Saying that Christmas has become over-commercialized is stating the obvious. We have glassy-eyed shoppers lining up, zombie like, on Thanksgiving night, when they should be home giving thanks with their families, to be the first on "Black Friday" to stampede into Walmart to buy that 60-inch television they can't afford. We have people sitting home at their computers on Cyber Monday buying stuff online to avoid the insanity in the stores. We stopped in at Saks Fifth Avenue store in Rockefeller Center while visiting the famous tree. Ladies handbags were "on sale" for $1800. There used to be three or four classic Christmas movies, but now there are dozens of holiday movies featuring untalented hacks like Adam Sandler and Vince Vaughn, none of them watchable. There was also an ill-conceived remake of Miracle on 34th Street... please, make them stop.

Don't get the impression that I don't love Christmas, I do, it's just all the baggage that distracts us from remembering that over 2,000 years ago, in a town called Bethlehem, a child was born who was destined to change the world. I want to feel Christmas in my heart the way I did when, as a boy, I stood in the choir loft at Our Lady of Lourdes Church in Brooklyn and sang these words:

O little town of Bethlehem
How still we see thee lie
Above thy deep and dreamless sleep
The silent stars go by

Yet in thy dark streets shineth
The everlasting Light
The hopes and fears of all the years
Are met in thee tonight.

Merry Christmas to all (3) my faithful readers. May the joy and peace of the Infant Jesus fill your heart in this blessed season.


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The Whiner said...

Merry Christmas from one of the chosen 3. I enjoy Chrsitmas a lot but all the hub-bub and madness does distract from the real meaning of Christmas: food.

Joseph Del Broccolo said...

Amen, Whiner!

Jim Pantaleno said...

For both of your sakes, I hope they have food in Purgatory.