Put away from you all bitterness and wrath and anger and wrangling and slander, together with all malice, and be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ has forgiven you. - Ephesians 4:31-32 (NRSV)
I come from a family that wasn’t big on Christmas. By the time my sister and brother and I had gone off to college, scarcely any effort went into Christmas back home, except for the time my dad put a plastic wreath on the front door, which made us wonder if he was having emotional problems.
One year, when we were all home from school and sitting around the undecorated house devoid of any smells of baking or pine needles or anything like that, my sister and I decided to go out and get a Christmas tree. It was about 4 p.m. on Christmas Eve, already dark.
We drove to a tree lot in my sister’s Volkswagen Beetle. I know, what kind of tree can you take home in a Volkswagen? We didn’t think about it. We got one of the last trees from a man set up on the shoulder of the road. We split the cost; I think it was $8. On the way home, we ran out of gas. It was snowing.
I don’t remember how we got the tree or ourselves home, or what we did about the car or anything else about that Christmas. I do remember the exhilarating last-minute decision to go out and, by God, get a Christmas tree. It was a gift I got from cynicism.
Christmas cynics aren’t really trying to spoil things for everyone else. They’re disappointed. In what, or who, I don’t think we should presume to guess or judge. I like to think that they’re secretly waiting for Christmas, too.
If you have a Scrooge in the family—or are one yourself—why not put up a plastic wreath and go out and get a tree anyway? Make sure you have enough gas.
Bless all those who buy the last trees on the lot and get their Christmas presents from Walgreen’s, all those who decide at the last minute to put on their coats and boots and leave their unilluminated houses to go to church and arrive late for the Christmas Eve service. Bless all those standing in the back who aren’t so sure, but came anyway.
Christina Villa is Philanthropy/Communications Consultant at The Pension Boards-United Church of Christ, New York, NY.