Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Sacred? Scared.

It all started out very humbly. There were dusty dirty floors, there was animal poo, it was dark, and there were labor pains. My daughter was born in 35 minutes from water breaking to baby-on-the-breast, and I thought that was torturous, but I didn't have to do all of that next to a sheep's rear end! Mary, Mother of Christ, did (seen here even balancing a plate on her noggin shortly after delivery!).

So, why do Christians celebrate this dank and dark night? Why does it matter? Because we believe that in that first cry from the lips of a tender babe who was out of his element in so many ways, God entered the world though the flesh of a vulnerable human child. In that moment our own destinies were being written, as well as the destiny of those primary three, centered at the manger.

(Hey, you'd cry too if your first whiff of the world was manure! What happened to milk & honey! Yikes!)

So, when it matters that much to me to stop in December every year and consider all that transpired under a bright and attractive star, I want to do that in a respectful and worshipful way to the Creator of the Universe, who once walked and talked in the Garden with Adam, and some 2000 years ago walked the streets of Jerusalem with Peter. I want our family celebration to teach our children what Christmas really means, so that even with Santa Claus, I refer to Saint Nicholas, the true and real person who cared for and loved children, giving to needy families out of his own love for that same Christ child. Why do we remember Saint Nick? Because he was an example to us of how to love our neighbors as the adult Christ and his apostles did.

So, how is it that Christmas has become just a Happy Holiday? What has happened to kneeling before the infant and seeing that even in his first human moments experiencing earth's gravity, that he was and is and is to come?

I saw this commentary video I sent to some friends called Merry Tossmas, about the flagrant disregard by 90% of commercial catalogs to acknowledge this season as Christmas, a religious holiday celebrated by more than 90% of Americans. Instead, again & again, even manger scenes are packaged under cover of holiday traditions. Stuart Shepherd says, "Happy non-specific holiday!"

But this sincerely takes the cake! This "4154 Advent Calendar Unicorn Paradise," sold by Playmobil, is apparently NEW! (Ooh and ahh with me, would you?)

What!?!?!? ADVENT...UNICORN...PARADISE!?!?!?!?

OK, I have always really liked the design, feel, movement and durability of the Playmobil 1.2.3 line for toddlers. We have several items which Logan got as a tot. But in the fall they came out with a new item that was billed by Family Fun magazine as a "Best Toys for 5 to 8-Year-Olds 2007" by their testers. My friend, Jill, made me aware, and then wrote a complaint to the magazine, which I will reprint here, given her permission. It is the Roman Arena (4270).

Here is Family Fun's description of this item:
"The 207 piece, coliseum-themed Roman Arena (4270) features enough obsessive detailing — columns, a man-eating lion, armored gladiators, a double-harness chariot, a trapdoor above the lion's den — to please even Nero. Our only quibble: lacking fingers, the emperor can't give his thumbs-up or -down signal."

What do you know about history? The arena, my friends, was the slaughterhouse of many--including Christians, because they were Christians.

So, now "Advent" can be somehow (huh?) played out with unicorns...and little boys can reenact tortures in the historic arena. Who has gotten control of this toy company!?!?!?

I have, for years, resisted the flood of commercialism that has been a part of my Christmas upbringing--Christmas can be a terrible excuse for excess. This year, thankfully, our tight budget is reigning me in even more, but year after year I have wanted our celebration to be about Jesus, not getting gifts.

Let us keep this in our minds' eyes:

...not this!

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