I started to write something poetic about Christmas, something that was not full of clichés . . . you know, things like it being “a magical time of the year,” and putting “Christ back into . . .” You all know them, including the pictures of chestnuts roasting on an open fire. Has anyone ever done that?
My struggle at writing something fresh failed, as you can see from the segment at the end of this comment, but the more I thought about it, I realized Christmas is really kinda cool, isn’t it?
Of course, I write this as one who grew up in the Catholic Church, but isn’t the real Christmas message one that all humans can understand and take to heart. “Peace on earth” and so on.
The Christmas Story – whether it’s true or merely flowing from the imaginations of people some 2000 years ago – is an inspiring one: the pregnant young woman and her husband being denied housing and finding refuge in a back shed among other struggling families. From his crib of straw, the child is born and rises to spur on a world-changing revolution.
As the story goes, this child grows up to cast the money-changers out of the temple, preach among the despised people of the times and eventually befriend prostitutes. It’s this spirit of Jesus – whether he is the Son of God in your mind or a myth – that most reverberates for me. It’s this spirit that should inspire us in this day, instead of the desire to find a cool, expensive gift under the Christmas Tree.
Yes, Christmas makes me wish that for 2015 all of us could take pause from slinging divisive rhetoric at each other and begin reasonable dialogue about the tough issues of the day. Can we in Milwaukee (and in St. Louis, New York and Cleveland) find a way to build trust between our police officers on the street and the citizens of our poorest neighborhoods? Is it possible to find a compromise between those who support a woman’s right to choose and those who cry “baby-killers” at workers of women’s clinics?
And then there is cousin Billy Boy who seems bound and determined at every family gathering to shout out his conservative views as Aunt Sally responds with an even louder voice with her liberal response. Will they – or our politicians and pundits – ever be able to bring reason into red and blue disagreements?
The spirit of Christmas is cool, isn’t it? It means for all of us to pause and look at each other with fresh and open eyes. It means for us to search out the humanity in the other person and to build off our discoveries to a new spirit of peace. And what’s wrong with that?
Thus it is I end with a cheery (and correct) “Happy Holidays.” What else?
A Holiday Wish
What a wonderful story: a child born in a crib of straw in a back shed
Rises from simple beginnings,
And a revolution is born
Promising a new Society based on peace and justice for all.
‘Twas just a fiction, some might say,
“Twas a divine action sent from a benevolent God, say others.
Who knows the truth?
Of what matter is it?
The story provides a lesson and hope for all, the believer and non-believer alike:
A lesson that the human spirit may overcome our divisions
And a hope that through living these lessons
We may all find hope for peace and justice.
— Ken Germanson, Dec. 25, 2014