Wednesday, November 11, 2020
The other day, the grands and I were running errands, and to my astonishment, our favorite station was playing Christmas music. I thought at first it was a joke, but no, the next song was Christmas music, and it went on and on.
Then, I noticed Christmas decorations hanging out at Kroger and Dollar General, smothering the fall leaves and pumpkins and turkeys, who were trying hard to be noticed. It is, after all, November, not December.
Next, my friends started showing off their home Christmas decor and asking for help with outdoor lights. It seems everybody is ready to celebrate a holiday that's 47 days off as I write.
My first reaction was to huff up and "tsk, tsk" the very idea of rushing off to Christmas prematurely with such vigor. I mean, I recognize it's been headed toward this prematurity for a while—a phenomenon many had chalked up to the ever-important retail market. I thought this year, perhaps, Covid-19 has taken such a toll on retailers that they've dropped all pretense of observing traditional holiday schedules? Maybe. But that isn't why people are dragging out their old Christmas decorations from the attic and reveling in their joyful presence and the sweet memories they bring.
So, what is it then? I was thinking through this question the morning after the radio event, and I had a palm-to-the-forehead moment. Of course! Why hadn't I thought of that?! It is so obvious!
Think about it.
The pall of 2020 hangs heavily over all of us. We are dealing with anxiety, insomnia, grief, fear and every stomach-gripping issue that's definable. Not to mention the threat of a potentially debilitating, deadly disease, a falling away of social niceties and norms, lost family and friends due to harsh political differences, non-stop disturbing reports on the TV, radio and even on our phones.
We can't go to the movies, football games, or any other usual gatherings that mark our society without risking our lives or others' lives. Yes indeed, 2020 has been a cruel thief.
So what did I realize? That many people are turning to Christmas for comfort, peace and joy. That folks are yearning for the love that is represented by the Christ Child's coming; what a wonderful testimony of the comfort that Jesus offers.
For those of us who are followers of Jesus, the season is an exercise in exhilaration. Everything is prettier, sparklier and more musical. We await with eager anticipation the coming of the Christ child. We hang onto the prophecy that foretold him, the Star, the Wise Men, even the donkeys.
Even those who have given up on church as a formal exercise, who may have lost their faith through all of this meanness, or who worship differently may also be turning to the happiness the Christmas season represents. It seems most everyone wants to think on kind, loving and beautiful things.
Humans have an innate desire to feel good, to feel joy, to feel love, to feel cherished, to feel sheltered. Those are just a few things that the Christmas season represents.
So, I say, Merry Christmas everybody! Let's jingle up and light the lights sooner rather than later.
For those of us who are organizationally challenged and can't get there until after Thanksgiving, let's say thank you to the ones who remind us right now of the peace that Jesus Christ offers, even in the bleakest of times.
And pleases ring those bells as long as you want!
Pam Johnson is an author and consultant. She has been a public-school teacher, a news editor of two weekly newspapers, a magazine publisher, a florist, a lobbyist, an advocate, and was twice elected alderwoman in her hometown of Mount Olive.
This column does not necessarily reflect the views of the JFP.