How did it come so soon? Here it is Dec. 24, the last day of Giftmas. Tomorrow, with the family presents revealed and the family members feasted into a state of torpor, we’re into the 12 days of Christmas.
The real thing: The celebration of God’s greatest gift to us.
Now is the time to look back with gratitude -- has it been a tough year? At least be thankful you survived it -- and hope for an upbeat ending to 2010. Seven days of the year remain, a lame-duck week, and they needn’t be an anticlimax. We could surprise ourselves.
A good friend, Frieda Byrd, forwarded an e-mail I can’t resist quoting here. Purporting to be “a letter from Jesus about Christmas,” it is an anonymous author’s idea of what Jesus might want to say to his followers.
It begins, “It has come to My attention that many of you are upset that folks are taking My name out of the season.” It urges Christians to “just GET ALONG AND LOVE ONE ANOTHER” instead of worrying about what others call the day.
It goes on to present a “wish list from Jesus” with some things we need to do during the next 12 days (and should have been doing during the past month). I quote a few of the 10 choices:
Instead of writing protest letters objecting to the way My birthday is being celebrated, write letters of love and hope to soldiers away from home. They are terribly afraid and lonely this time of year. I know, they tell Me all the time.
Visit someone in a nursing home. They need to know someone cares about them.
Instead of giving your children a lot of gifts you can’t afford and they don’t need, spend time with them. Tell them the story of My birth, and why I came to live with you down there.
If you really want to make a difference, support a missionary.
If you want to make a statement about your belief in and loyalty to Me, then behave like a Christian. Let people know by your actions you are one of Mine.
Among the other gifts Jesus would like are forgiving someone who has hurt us in the past; praying for the president and his family (“it will be nice hearing from you again”) and donating food and clothing to the Salvation Army and similar Christian charities.
The letter ends, “Don’t forget; I am God and can take care of Myself. Just love me and do what I have told you to do. I’ll take care of all the rest.”
A pretty good agenda for the real Christmas, or, for that matter, the whole year.
I tried to track down the original author. I located the “letter” posted on a blog three years ago, “as author unknown.” I have seen it reproduced on quite a few church websites, and, interestingly enough, by several atheists, if in edited forms.
It has also been damned by some bloggers as “blasphemous” because it purported to speak for Jesus. But no one has ever been able to name an author. Anyone out there know? (It’s not Jenelle Embrey; she only “customized” the original for a courthouse square atheist display in Virginia.)
The last week of the year is a good one for catching up on charitable contributions (while they’re still deductible!) and for doing what we can to redeem 2010.
After all, the lame duck Congress and a president “shellacked” seven weeks ago have surprised everyone by breaking through gridlock and partisan bitterness to get some important stuff done: the New START treaty, repeal of “don’t ask, don’t tell,” medical aid for 9/11 first responders, new food safety laws and a tax deal.
If those guys can sprint to the finish line, anyone can. Ready ... get set ...
Ed Corson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.