(part three in my Christmas Day medley. This is from Christmas day 2008)
I get inspiration when I work. No activity is more inspiring than
quietly with cattle; no tractor, no engine noises-just a pitchfork
and me. I like to sing, hum or whistle while I work and my recent
play list is mostly Christmas music. One of those poorly-sung songs
really made me “choke-up” and made me think this week.
There are many reasons for tears during Christmas. I have seen some
of the worst behavior among families during this time of year. We all
expect to be close with loved ones during the holidays so those who
seek to hurt family members often see an opportunity. Families,
already split by divorce, sometimes suffer even more as mom and dad
use visitation with the children they have in common as a weapon
against each other.
Most people also aspire for peace on earth during Christmas. I think
this may be the reason why violence hurts most folks so deeply during
I really feel for those who have family and friends at
war or who have recently been touched by tragedy which makes peace
difficult to achieve. It seems we have more sadness than in past
All of these scenarios are good reason for tears, but they are not my
reason. I’d rather tear up from a good gift.
My reason has more to do with the song, “Hark, the Herald Angels
Sing.” I was singing it to myself while I fed cattle. The line that
makes me choke up is “born that man no more may die.” Most of us feel
invincible when we are young; however knowledge
of our own impending death eventually finds a place in our young
minds. I don’t
believe there’s ever a time when my own impending death (by old age,
really old age!) is very far away from my thoughts. It’s not something
that I even consciously think about, but it’s there almost always.
The good news is that while there is always physical death, there is
spiritual immortality. That’s why the line, “born that man no more
may die” gets to me. I think every one of us has the nagging thought
that one day we will pass. But when we are reminded that we will not
die but have everlasting life it is such a relief that it’s met with
a rush of emotions-even tears.
Here’s the thing about Christmas, it is the celebration of the birth
of Jesus. God gave us everything we need to live right from the
but decided that it wasn’t enough. He sent
his son to absorb our sins and remind us of an everlasting life. It
is a gift, we do not earn it. It is the gift of relief from fear of
death and impetus for us to do our best on earth in preparation for
the next life.
It funny what you learn working with cattle. Actually it’s really a
relief what you come to understand working with cattle. Life is
everlasting, especially at Christmas. Now go open your gifts!
(part two in my Christmas Day medley. This one is from Christmas 2006. I hope you are enjoying “a Christmas Story” on TBS today. Grant)
The Merry Christmas War
Christmas is a time for love and family. Unfortunately, some people will spend this Christmas at war. There is the war in Iraq but there’s also a war at home, I call it the “Merry Christmas War” and it’s waged each time somone uses this greeting at Christmas.
American soldiers fight and die for freedom, independence and peace. The War of Merry Christmas has seen no casualties but it’s motives are just as well-defined;it is a War for our right to freedom of religion. Those who seek to make us forget the meaning of Christmas claim they seek separation of church and state. The truth is that what they really seek is to separate the faithful from their faith. “Merry Christmas” has been replaced by “Happy Holidays” allegedly to be more inclusive of other religions’ holidays. This is a simple lever used to remove the reason for the holiday. Those who say “Merry Christmas”, “Happy Hannukah” or any other Holiday salutation derived from religion offend no one except those who wish to be worshiped themselves in their own kingdom. We all have belief in a higher being and in most cases it’s the same entity only a different name. It doesn’t divide us but rather unites us.
So why have forces gathered to take away Christmas? Belief in a higher being grants people the courage to hold beliefs above government, powerful corporations or other groups. When I pledge my allegiance, it’s to God before any other. If that sort of faith can be diluted then it can be replaced with faith to a government or to concepts that compromise our morals. Look at what the USSR did by dismantling formal religion and replacing it with allegiance to a communist government. Many in present day North Korea worship a delusional Kim Jong Il. It is the only way a government that fails to serve it’s people can exist. They must remove the one person who really deserves worship so they can become the only alternative.
I accept the secular traditions of Christmas happily. Santa Claus, Christmas trees, Frosty the Snowman, wreaths are fine traditions and bind us together through memories we all share. My eye sees these traditions as simple events during Christmas. A visit from Santa is like playing touch football after a Christmas meal. Trimming the Christmas tree is like early morning presents with everyone in pajamas. These precious shared memories bring us all closer together but they are not Christmas. Christmas is the birth of Jesus-everything else is just simple human ways of celebrating that birth. I think we just need to be careful that Christmas is the reason for the celebration and not vice versa.
So why “The Merry Christmas War?” This term may seem a little extreme but every time I greet someone with “Merry Christmas” it reminds them of what we celebrate. I think it helps to keep the phrase alive until it once again takes hold. When I wish you a Merry Christmas I celebrate the brith of Jesus while I make my stand for what I believe. Merry Christmas!