Wednesday, December 26, 2007

How one grinch honors Christmas

This first published December 20, 2007 in the Henderson Home News, a Community Newspapers of Nevada publication.

I received an anonymous phone message from a woman wondering why I’m so anti-Christmas. She may have been referring to my Thanksgiving column, where I mentioned the possibility of the Christmas shopping season being slow. By the way, I was wrong about that. It was the same column in which I sounded like an ingrate because of an editing mistake and in my haste to leave town, I did not recheck my work.
It’s funny how a single word added to a sentence can change its entire meaning. I wrote, “... because household income is flat and not keeping up with inflation no matter how hard we work our money.” The edited version came out, “... no matter how hard we work for our money,” sounding as though I didn’t appreciate my paycheck every two weeks. I’m glad that is cleared up!
Well, let’s set the other record straight: I am not anti-Christmas! Quite the opposite if you ask me!
One needs to look at it from another perspective and the traditions of the Western Christian church.
First of all, in those traditions, Christmas doesn’t start until the end of Christmas Eve. The period roughly between Thanksgiving and Christmas is the Advent season, beginning on the fourth Sunday before Christmas and ending Christmas Eve at midnight. Advent is a time of waiting, reconciliation, reflection and preparation for the coming of the Messiah. You may be wondering if I have my Holy Days confused, and the answer is no. Both Advent and Lent have similarities. Both are periods of time to right oneself with others, bringing one into favor with God. At one time fasting was a significant ritual during Advent, a ritual rooted in our Judaic foundation.
Christmas Day is indeed a joyful celebration, and the following 12 days
leading to the Epiphany traditionally are the days of buying earthly goods and creating merriment, hence the “Twelve Days of Christmas.”
Somehow over time, these Holy Days have become less significant and changed into something completely different.
Personally, I dread what I call the X-mas prep days, the commercialization of Christmas during Advent, which literally starts the day after Thanksgiving. One day it may even start the day after Halloween. My family can attest to my pre-Christmas testiness as they gear up – scratch that – let’s say stress out over the holiday spirit while I’m dragging my holiday spiritedness trying to reflect upon my worthiness to be in the presence of the Lord.
These are the days I realize my many shortcomings. Perhaps one I should work on is my lack of patience while driving my bride from store to store, but then I find myself realizing just how patient she is putting up with my impatience. She is the Christmas angel in our home, without a doubt.
Really, I do have an appreciation for the secular Christmas celebration, because it is a bridge between faiths that is a glue in American society. The jolly Santa Claus is an iconic symbol of hope, peace, love and giving that stretches across religious diversity to bring joy to the world.
My adoration for Jesus and my inner child’s love for Santa Claus are in a delicate balance and that is more than likely the reason I wait until the very last minute to Christmas shop trying to preserve the real meaning of the season for myself.
What I wish for during Advent and what I would like to give and receive for Christmas can’t be bought with money at the mall.
My wish is for peace, both on earth and in the hearts of every member of our human family. These are times of war for this country ‹ whether it be the “War on Terror,” the “War on the Border” or a war of words. What this country needs is a little peace, because if we can find peace in our own country, we will be able to show the world what peace is.
It certainly is a gooey wish in terms of what most American men would ever admit to wishing for, even in the intimacy of their own hearts, but it is what I wish for you this Christmas.
From our house to yours, we wish you the Happiest of Holidays, a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.
– – –
If you need a Christmas spirit boost, take the family to the ”Magical
Forest” at Opportunity Village. Maybe you’re feeling a little bit like the
Grinch with a secret urge to give something back. Then join this Grinch and volunteer at the “Magical Forest” it’s easy. Just call 225-9627 and set up a time.
The Magical Forest will be open until Dec. 30, and there are hundreds of trees frosted with millions of lights to brighten your holiday nights. There are many incredible holiday displays brought to life by many of the Las Vegas Valley’s generous corporate sponsors.
Take a ride on one of two “Forest Express” passenger trains, or on both.
Stop and warm up with hot cocoa and funnel cakes, the Las Vegas holiday classic. Then take a spin on an antique carousel, make a wish with Santa and top it off with windswept trip down the Alpine Slide. According to the elves at Opportunity Village, “Every year The Magical Forest reinvents itself with something new just around the next turn on the Forest path, and this year is no exception. The elves toil all year long to create this Winter Wonderland in the Desert, which in 2006 was attended by over 150,000 visitors from Las Vegas and all over the world.”
The Magical Forest
WHEN: Nightly 5:30-10 p.m. through Dec. 30
WHERE: 6300 W. Oakey Blvd, Las
Vegas, NV 89146
COST: Adults $9, children 12 and under $7. Passports good
for admission and unlimited rides available for $14 for adults and $12 for children.

Tim O’Callaghan, co-publisher of the News, can be reached at 990-2656 or