As a holiday Grinch, I’d have to say that one of my favorite easy reads is John Grisham’s Skipping Christmas or, if you prefer the movie, Christmas with the Kranks’. I have never been one to decorate my house with lights like Clark Griswold. I don’t usually get too sentimental about the holidays but I really appreciate those who do and I don’t seem to notice people doing as much holiday decorating as they used to, maybe that is because people are so afraid they might “offend” someone who doesn’t share their regard for the holiday (Oh, the horror!). I still do not want to pressure my neighbors to continue a tradition when they just want to skip the whole Christmas thing for a Caribbean cruise. What I do not appreciate is people of any persuasion expecting me to observe the holidays in the way they prescribe.

Regardless of your religious or political persuasion December is a season of celebration. The Jews are celebrating Hanukkah or the festival of lights, Christians may or may not be celebrating the birth of Christ. Secularists are celebrating their victories over religious sentiments for every nativity scene that doesn’t go up or every menorah that isn’t allowed in public view. There is nothing quite like the holidays to bring out the best and the worst in all of us. Black Friday holiday shopping tussles, as entertaining as they are to non-participants, demonstrates what is worst in us. A little less obvious is the self-righteous finger wagging, guilt preaching, and nonsensical opinion offering done this time of year from every side. I appreciate the Apostle Paul’s guidance in Romans 14 about observing special days. His point is, if you observe a day for the Lord, let that be it. Don’t judge everyone else by your standard. Don’t attempt to prevent people from observing the holidays and don’t expect everyone else to feel the way you feel about the holiday. This is good advice to the religious and secular alike. If you want to make up your own holiday and celebrate it; well, Happy Festivus, Frank! It is perfectly fine with me until you wag your self-righteous finger at me telling me why I ought to see the world as you do.

What is best in people is the generosity people tend to offer this time of year. Regardless of religious or political persuasion some individuals are sentimental about the time they get to spend with their family and the generosity they are able to perform for the less fortunate as well as their families. I, personally, like the Christmas holidays because life slows down for 24-48 hours and I have an opportunity to pay attention to my own family for a few days without guilt. I can splurge on them and give them a few special items they wouldn’t normally get during the course of the year. I will continue to do this as long as I am physically and financially able.

Another thing that is good about humans is that it seems the overwhelming attitude of American culture is that this holiday season is a time to think about our blessings and share some of those blessings with others. Toy drives, food drives, coat drives; it all adds up to a nation of people who care that children learn about receiving something they want, that no one should have to starve in the land of plenty, and that no one should have to be cold in the most prosperous land in history! What other place in the world has a society that cares as much? For you cynics, I have travelled the world, experienced other cultures in Central America and Asia. Nations that prosper are nations that care and demonstrate generosity. I will let you, the individual decide whether that is the presence and blessing of God, State largesse, free market commerce, or some other phenomenon. As for me, I hope you have a happy holiday.

Bryan Collins

Minister, Central Church of Christ