Holidays and Holy Days, Scenes of the Season.
December, 2011

A lady in LA thanks God for His providence on Thanksgiving. Late that night, she leaves her family and pepper sprays her way through the crowd at Walmart to get to some stupid video game. I wonder if she’ll count that little bauble among next year’s blessings. At another store, people step over the body of a man they’ve trampled to death in a merry shopping crush. Another man holds up a cell phone store for a little holiday cash. I wonder if he considered pepper spraying his way through the cashier. Happy Holidays.

Local Baptist congregations and members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints work together to provide nearly a thousand holiday meals in Salinas and Seaside. A well known local business owner (neither Baptist nor Mormon) makes several trips to buy dozens of turkeys and other food to help the project succeed. Thousands of individuals from churches, businesses and service organizations all over the county donate tons of food and hours of service at places like Dorothy’s Kitchen and various meeting halls to feed thousands of individuals and families. Many continue with generous toy drives and food to help the needy throughout the year. Happy Holy Days.

One lady, unwilling to wait for volunteer delivery, drops by to pick up a boxed meal, and complains that the service by the church volunteers isn’t as good as the welfare department. Occupy people, terminally clueless, greedily complain that nobody’s giving them everything they want under their hijacked tree. What’s a Solstice?

Kids expect Santa, Uncle Joe or Aunt Mary, to bring the right game or iThing, or whatever’s hot, to make this the best Xmas ever. Others attend the school Winter Program, where the reason for the season was outlawed years ago. That’s where “Christmas” is the word that cannot be uttered, but a three-week vacation means everything. PC props to Rudolph for overcoming mean-spirited mammal-on-mammal prejudice against his not-normal schnoz; and for being part of the team that got Junior got his battery-powered Wiffle ball. Happy Winter Break.

Religious zealots defy wise government secularism and celebrate the season as if they really were “Holy Days.” They gather with family and congregations to thank God for His love and blessings. Unfortunately, for security reasons, their gratitude is expressed only within the group and won’t make it past the parking lot on the way to the pepper spray store. As for “God,” well, He can be whatever you need him, or her, or it, to be, depending on where you are with the idea of a Supreme Being. Just don’t offend anyone with religious noels, or public scenes of ancient Middle Eastern pilgrims. Brace yourselves for stories about some kid getting suspended for possessing a Christmas card. Season’s Greetings.

A Salinas family is incomplete. Maybe there was a divorce, she’s been deployed, he’s sick or has been hurt in a drive-by. Maybe there is nobody else and loneliness adds its icy sting to winter’s chill. Nevertheless, their faith assures them that God has their back and they begin to understand what all this joy business is about. Happy Holy Days.

Meantime, at the mall, it’s all Santa, sales and sell phones. The less said about that, the better. Happy Last Minute Deals.

A man sits in Soledad Prison. He’ll always be hated and will never see another Christmas at home. He makes a few greeting cards and has a tiny paper tree in his cell. For decades he was angry, bitter and toxic. Now, amazingly, he looks forward to a better life, but probably not on this side of death. He prays, he studies and fasts for forgiveness, and in his heart finds a gracious peace. Nobody will ever understand the season like he does.

Happy Holidays if you must, Holy Days if you can.