Let me say this first: I am a Christian and I am glad Jesus was born into this world.
Second let me say this: When it comes to Christmas I am usually more the grinch than I am Santa.
It is not that I don’t like Christmas. I love the fact that for centuries people have celebrated the Prince of Peace who came to give the ultimate gift, eternal life. I love that his coming was only the beginning of his work which was completed when he paid the unspeakable price on Calvary. I love that he is neither the god of the dead or a dead god. He has risen and is alive forevermore. All these things began with that birth that was heralded by angels.
That being said why am I a grinch? As you might guess a large part of it is the fact that Jesus is the unforgotten character in the Christmas story. Let me elaborate. Did you see Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl? Do you realize that the story was supposed to be about Will Turner and Elizabeth Swan? But when you think of The Pirates of the Caribbean I bet they are not the first ones to come to mind. No the first one who comes to mind is Jack Sparrow. I mean Captain Jack Sparrow.
Hey I am not blaming you if Jack comes to mind first. He was hilariously portrayed by Johnny Depp and I love the character myself. I can quote all of his memorable lines and a lot you probably don’t remember yourself. Still the story was supposed to be about Will and Elizabeth.
Christmas is a lot like Pirates of the Caribbean. It is supposed to be about Jesus but lately someone has upstaged him. That someone is of course the fat cookie-gobbler known as Santa Claus, old St Nick, Pere Noel, Papa Noel, Father Christmas and a host of other names I can’t remember and you probably would not recognize anyway. In a story that is supposed to be about him Jesus has been upstaged by a jolly fat man in a red suit.
Hey I have nothing against the fat man though. I am not one of those Christians who think you are destroying Christmas if you give gifts to one another. I am not even completely opposed to the idea of going to visit Santa Claus or making a list. Santa himself sounds like a fine fellow. He gives gifts to children all over the world. He keeps a list of naughty and nice kids. He is happy all the time! The only problem, of course, is that Santa is not real! So not only is the Great I Am upstaged by someone else that someone else is a fairytale! He was not even supposed to be in the show and he ended up stealing it from the real hero.
I do not blame Santa though. How could I? He is not even real. Not being real he can neither do good nor evil. I blame the real people for letting Jesus be replaced by a fantasy.
It would be bad enough if it was just Santa but it goes beyond that. The only reason Fantasy Claus has any power over this holiday is because we give it to him! When we should be remembering the Lord and Savior we are remember the jolly fat guy. When we should be teaching our children about the savior who came from the world beyond this one we are telling them about the old elf who comes from the north pole.
This brings us to black Thursday. It used to be black Friday but that is not good enough. We cannot even finish thanking God for what we have before we have to go out and get more! Now we have to have a few extra hours to go out and commercialize our holiday. We have to save a few more bucks to buy presents for people who often have too much already. We have to impress them and prove our love by giving them something under the tree.
Some of you are blaming the Targets and Walmarts of the world for the problem. You have another thing coming! It’s about supply and demand. The most basic principle of capitalism and even economics itself. You want to blame someone for Black Thursday, blame the shopper not the store. The store wouldn’t be open if people weren’t willing to buy. They are just making a buck after all.
Now you say that is just corporate greed run amok. I do not disagree. But isn’t it our greed that forces us out into the crowds to save a buck?
And consider this frenzy of shopping. Does it symbolize the joyous season of Christmas? Do grown people fighting over toys really exalt the Lord? Do people getting trampled to death as they rush into Walmart blaze forth the message of peace and goodwill to all men? How in the name of Jesus can we fight each other over something he said not to even worry about?
What about stores that won’t even wish you a merry Christmas lest they offend someone. Hey I have an idea! If Christmas offends you, don’t celebrate it! It’s our holiday. It’s a Christian holiday. If you don’t want to wish me a merry Christmas I will find somewhere to spend my money where political correctness is where it belongs (in the trash can with most of the other liberal ideas!)
Which brings me to one last point before I put the soapbox away for the night. Christmas music. Why in the world is Jingle Bells a Christmas song? What do chestnuts roasting over an open fire have to do with Jesus in a manger? Why are we singing about the fat guy and his freak of a reindeer when we should be singing about the gift of God?
I don’t hate all “Christmas” songs though. I love the old traditional ones, Hark the Herald Angels Sing, Away In a Manger, Silent Night etc. Of course most of these were written when Christmas was still Christmas and not just an excuse to spend money we don’t have on presents our children will stop appreciating long before the paper we wrapped them in has decomposed.
Anyone who knows me well knows that I am not athlete. In fact you probably don’t even have to know me well to know that. If you don’t know that look at a picture of me and you will figure it out pretty quick.
There is one sport at which I excel though. Or maybe it is an art. Who can say for sure. Either way I will call it a sport. That sport is soapboxing. Now maybe you have not heard of soapboxing before. Please don’t get the wrong idea! Soapboxing is not two men clutching a bar of soap in both hands trying to knock the other man into submission through brutal and savage blows! (Although there are two idiots somewhere who would do it and a bunch more who would buy it on pay-per-view!) Soapboxing is not that kind of sport. Soapboxing is the sport of spouting off on whatever has last got under your skin.
This spouting is not limited to reasonable and cognizant thought. In fact you do not have to even have to make sense. You just have to say it with passion and conviction. In fact I have witnessed many a soapboxer pull out his soapbox and mount it with the full intent of proving his or her marvelous wit only to be knocked unconscious by his or her complete and total lack of any intelligent thought regarding the aforementioned skin irritant.
What I am trying to say is you do not have to be smart to soapbox. You just need to think you are and really believe what you say! It’s like the story I heard of the preacher who mounted the podium to declare what he believed. When he finished his exhortation someone in the audience remarked the he did not believe a word that the preacher said but the preacher was certainly convinced! That’s almost all it takes to be a soapboxer.
The only other thing one needs to be a top notch soapboxer is the soapbox itself. It must ever be handy because one never knows when it will be needed. If you know me you know my personal soapbox is always with me. And I do not limit myself when it comes to soapboxing. I will soapbox anything! I am like a decathlete of soapboxing. I will soapbox anything from religion to government, from movies to morals. I have an opinion on just about everything. You may not believe me now but if you visit here regularly you will be convinced that I do!
Another word on soapboxing: A good soapboxer uses big words! Did you catch that big one I just used? Decathlete. Now I don’t use that word everyday. In fact I had to look it up to make sure I spelled it correctly (Thank you google!) This becomes especially important when you have no idea what you are talking about. If you use enough big words you are bound to convince someone you are a fountain of knowledge even if your real amount of knowledge is closer to a thimble!
One final word about soapboxing. Never engage in argument with a professional soapboxer if you are only an amateur. The professional will wear you down with his years of accumulated stamina, useless (and often incorrect) information and just plain ignorance of when he has lost the argument. You cannot win with these people. They are like Rocky Balboa. You may, figuratively speaking, beat them to a bloody pulp but they will keep getting up. They understand it is not how many times you get knocked down it is how many times you get back up. Eventually they will beat you just like Rocky beat Apollo Creed.
This is especially true of the true idiot soapboxer. They are the fulfillment what Mark Twain said, “Never argue with a fool; onlookers may not be able to tell the difference.” Of course some people say he did not say it. Maybe he did. Maybe he didn’t but I sound much smarter quoting don’t I?
Now I will put my soapbox away for a bit. Hey, I just realized I got my soapbox out to soapbox on soapboxing. Maybe Mark Twain was talking about me!