How’s your Christmas season starting? Have you got the tree up and decorated and cards on the mantle? I am starting to see some Christmas cards in the mail which is awesome, and really trying to get in the spirit of Christmas.
I really wonder, though, about whether this Christmas is different in some way than many in the past. We are supposed to be coming out of a recession any day now, and apparently retailers are happy with the amount of money people are
wasting spending on stuff no one will remember in June meaningful gifts for their families. So why is it that I am not seeing more Christmas spirit?
I will illustrate with my experiences over the last week. On Black Friday I went over to my mentor’s house to help him with his Logos Bible software (he is quite the Luddite and I am a Logos nerd). I had a great time with Fred and his wonderful wife, and since I was on that side of town I wanted to make one stop to perhaps pick up an item on a crazy Black Friday sale. I finally got to the store at about 11:15 AM, and the place was hopping as I expected. I found the sale item I wanted and, when the clerk addressed me, I wished her a Merry Christmas. She smiled nicely, thanked me, and said that I was the first person who had said that to her this year.
Well, I thought, it’s just the day after Thanksgiving. No harm done! I asked her about her day in retail and she said it had been pretty crazy (naturally), and that people had been really upset when they ran out of “door buster” items. (This was at Scottsdale Gun Club, which means frustrated armed people; then again all the employees are armed so they probably aren’t too worried about angry customers!) I bought my item and thanked the clerk and again wished her a Merry Christmas.
Fast forward to today. I had to take my wife’s laptop to the electronics mega-giant we bought it from (Fry’s Electronics for those who are familiar) for service, as it was having BSoD-level errors. (actually the CMOS battery died and it perhaps has a motherboard fault for those who are computer geeks) I had to stand in line for about 10 minutes to get to the service counter, and while I was waiting a lady in front of me approached the counter with a digital camera. The service guy explained to her that the camera had a cracked view-screen, and that the warranty didn’t cover misuse or being dropped or issues like that. He was quite polite.
Well when her husband came up and heard what was going on, you’d have thought the clerk had called his wife a dirty name and then punched her in the face. He hollered and shook his fist. He turned red and used language that made me glad I didn’t have my kids around. “WELL WHY WOULD I BUY A WARRANTY IF IT WOULDN’T COVER DROPPING THE CAMERA?” He yelled loudly enough for the words to echo through the store. He quaked in indignant rage that their warranty wouldn’t cover being dropped and that the salesman didn’t explain that to him!
Every sane person in the store was thinking what I was thinking. Dude, warranties don’t cover you drop-kicking your camera. If I decided to play Frisbee golf with my laptop I wouldn’t expect the store to replace it when it broke! Furthermore, it certainly wasn’t the poor service tech’s fault that you didn’t read the warranty paperwork. And…in case you hadn’t realized…it’s three weeks to Christmas. Simmer.
As I was standing there, I thought of two reminders from the book of Proverbs and a third from James:
A gentle answer turns away wrath,
But a harsh word stirs up anger. (Proverbs 15:1)
The heart of the righteous ponders how to answer,
But the mouth of the wicked pours out evil things. (Proverbs 15:28)
And the tongue is a fire, the very world of iniquity; the tongue is set among our members as that which defiles the entire body, and sets on fire the course of our life, and is set on fire by hell. (James 3:6)
I spent 5 Christmas seasons in retail, so my heart went out to that poor guy who had to take the abuse from a jerk with a chip on his shoulder. The clerk handled himself like a professional, and after dealing with the Grinch he came back to the counter. I shook his hand and told him that he should be commended for holding his temper, and then wished him a Merry Christmas as well. I dropped off the laptop and went to get another item we needed, (surprise, surprise, the techs were very helpful with my issue after I was kind to them!) then headed for the exit.
The checkout line at Fry’s is like the line for Santa at the mall. it snakes on forever at the holidays with an employee at the end directing customers to the next available teller when it is their turn. When I got to the head of the line the lady who was in charge looked a tad bored and somewhat frazzled. No shock there, as it’s the holidays and she works retail! So as I approached I wished her a Merry Christmas as well. She was pleasantly surprised and said thank you. When I asked why she was surprised, she said that I was the first person all year to wish her a Merry Christmas.
Okay, that’s getting old. Fast. That’s not what the angels announced to the shepherds:
“Glory to God in the highest,
And on earth peace among men with whom He is pleased.” (Luke 2:14)
Peace among people. Joy and love and respect, laughter and lightheartedness and worship of the God who loved us so much He became a man to pay for our sins. What a concept to spread this Christmas!
So join me, will you, on a Christmas crusade? Not a crusade to crush secular humanism or to make everyone remember the finer points of the narrative in Luke 2, as important as those might be. Join me in the crusade to help everyone slow down a minute and enjoy Christmas a little. Join me in wishing people a Merry Christmas and asking them how their day and their holidays are going before being frustrated that they don’t have another Tickle Me Elmo. Bring some joy with a nice handshake and a heartfelt wishing of God’s blessing on someone this Christmas. Take that time especially with those in retail, and your mailman, and the people who serve you who you don’t pay a lot of attention to. It’s Christmas, so let’s act like it and spread a little “peace on earth” around, shall we?
How about you? Have you been experiencing the Christmas Grinch this year? Is it just me, and you’re seeing the Christmas spirit all over?