Chronicles in Ordinary Time 224: Xmas in Pandemica

I don’t know when American Christmas lost its meaning for me.

When I was a child, Christmas [as I remember it] was about getting pajamas instead of toys. Our extended family met at my maternal Grandparents’ house and ate Norwegian cookies. There was dinner food as well, but I was a kid.

I did not understand the Meaning of Christmas until my 4th year of college.

I have, for most of my life, seen Christmas in America as something that does not resemble the story in the Gospels…
This scene…

…is the result of the image above:
A sculpture representing the Massacre of the Holy Innocents

But this image does not go well with Christmas in America.

Joseph and Mary were refugees, fleeing their home because they were told by an angel to flee to Egypt. After the Magi left, Herod ordered that all Hebrew children under the age of 2 years old were to be slaughtered. The Magi told Herod that they were seeking the new King who had been born, based on their analysis of the stars. Later, when Herod had died, an angel told Jesus’ family that it was safe to return home.

I’ve never understood how a star, no matter how bright or unique, would enable three guys to figure out where the star pointed. I’ll credit the navigation to heavenly beings. By the time the Magi showed up in Bethlehem, Jesus might have been 2 years old [see paragraph above]. I have trouble imagining that Joseph and Mary were still hanging around the stable. It makes a great story. The image above is based on a painting by Norman Rockwell.

Then there’s this guy:

My wife and I always taught our children about Saint Nicholas, the Bishop of Myra in the Third Century, as opposed to Santa Claus. The legend of Saint Nicholas is that he supposedly gave money to the poor and left treats in the shoes of children left on the porches. How Saint Nicholas became Santa Claus is problematic. Largely a product of the United States.

We did Christmas while our children lived with us, tree, lights, etc. I honestly don’t remember whether or not we did lights on the outside of the house. My Mom lived with us for the last year of her life; she did not really know who we were. In time, she seemed to have the idea that I was her father. My Maternal gene pool is very strong, so it’s possible I looked like the grandfather I never knew. She came to live with us on a Christmas Eve and we had a tree and decorations for her benefit; she went Home to Creator on the following Christmas Eve. After the morticians left, we went to church; and people were shocked. Where else would we be? Has this affected my feelings about Christmas? I don’t think so, but the human psyche is difficult.

My first experience of Christmas in church, the first time it began to make sense to me, was in an African American church I had not planned on going to. I missed the bus; and was more than a little annoyed. A woman at the bus stop invited me to her church. A very different church experience than I’d had previously. I did not know that church services could last for two hours or more. I left early.

I don’t know what the ‘correct’ way of doing Christmas is supposed to be in a Pandemic. As I’m writing this, there are 18,236,614 Americans with CVirus. My daughter is struggling with her recovery from a ‘mild’ case of CVirus. There have been 322,832 American deaths by CVirus. 322,832 empty chairs at Christmas time. The notion that there are people who still believe CVirus is a hoax.

Vaccines are coming, but it may be summer of 2021 before every American is vaccinated. Deaths will continue, possibly at the same rate as present.

This year, I think this is my image of Christmas.
The Gift of the Magi

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