That said, I have decided this year that I will not use the words Merry Christmas as a weapon. Last year, that’s what it was for me, a weapon. While shopping I would become the Merry Christmas Attack Ninja. Usually I would use it like this:
I’d walk up to the check out line at my favorite mega-discount-department-clothing-food store with my beef jerky and black socks and the conversation would begin,
Clerk: Hi, how are you?
M.C. Ninja: Fine thanks, and you?
Clerk: -Nothing- (after all consider what kind of day she was having on Dec. 22nd)
Clerk: That will be $8.50
M.C. Ninja: Here ya go, $8.50
Clerk: Thanks, come again, HAPPY HOLIDAYS!
M.C. Ninja: I think you mean MERRY CHRISTMAS. IT’S OKAY TO SAY MERRY CHRISTMAS!(me smiling through clenched teeth)THIS IS AMERICA! MERRY CHRISTMASSSSSS!
I had done it. I had used “Merry Christmas” as a weapon. I had lobbed a Yuletide bomb right in her lap. There was just no way that my “Merry Christmas” was a blessing. Had I been listening to too much talk radio? Frankly, yes I had. Had I been holding this tension inside so long that I had sucked any chance for an exchange of civility and Christian love out of the moment? Yes, without a doubt. It was a Christmas tragedy.
This year I hope things will change. I have decided that in the ancient custom of self examination during Advent (the church season leading up to Christmas) I will evaluate my life as reflected in what we at church call “The Two Great Commandments” (Mt. 22:36)
’You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it, You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’
I have decided to still say Merry Christmas, but only after trying to show some grace to the person with whom I’m having the conversation.
“Looks like a tough day in here today.”
“I can’t imagine how you stand all these people in a hurry, I’ll pray for you today.”
Usually I read the name on their nametag and add their first name to my “pray for you statement.
“I think that beef jerky is two for one today.”
This year, God willing, I will lay the Merry Christmas Attack Ninja to rest, and, with God’s help, bring out the peace that passes all understanding. I’ll try anyway. In the stress and tension of the season, I may fail and have to ask for God’s forgiveness again; but I’m going to try. I think it’s what Jesus would do. Happy Advent and Merry Christmas.