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The first Christmas was pretty quiet. This year, consider it a tradition to uphold.


It all started in a stable. Just a couple of people and then a baby. A few animals, and later in the night, a visit from some shepherds whom I’d guess were pretty subdued. After all, they were minding their own business out in the pasture when a heavenly host showed up and sent them to the stable. That would certainly quiet me down. There wasn’t a crowd - the wise men didn’t show up for a couple of weeks.

Quiet. Solemn. Joyful.

Consider it a suggestion.

Over the years, we’ve screwed up a lot of holidays. Labor Day has turned into an event in which the people we’re supposed to be celebrating have to be at work to keep the sale counters stocked. Memorial Day, Veteran’s Day and the Fourth of July should be our most sacred secular holidays, but somehow, they’ve evolved into an excuse for a barbecue.

And what we’ve done to Christmas, the solemn celebration of a truly awesome event, is nothing short of stunning.

I’m not a grump or a grinch. I like presents, parties, all that sort of thing. Let’s face it – in the last week of December in Minnesota, it isn’t a heavy lift to sell me on any type of celebration. But you have to admit that much of the stuff we do around Christmas has nothing to do with, you know, Christmas.

Plus, this is a bad year for gatherings. People are sick, people are worried, and it just isn’t the right time for a party. My guess is this whole mess will be sorted out around the Fourth of July, and we’ll all be ready to go wild then. For now, though, I’m thinking Christmas should be old school.

Like, 2000 years ago old school.

So this Christmas, gather with the people closest to your heart. Only the closest. Maybe you’re lucky enough to live with them, but if not, don’t give up. You can wear masks and stand in the yard or you can walk Granny through how to hook up for a Zoom visit. If it doesn’t work, there’s always the phone. But in the end, it won’t be a very big group, not if you’re honest about who should be included.

Don’t go crazy cooking. The first Christmas dinner was probably a handful of olives and some hard bread, and I’m guessing the stable owner didn’t dig out Great-Grandma’s linen tablecloth or the silver candlesticks that get polished once a year. Prepare something simple so you’re not locked in the kitchen for three days and exhausted by the time dinner is on the table. The best part of Christmas dinner should be who you’re with.

It’ll be worth going through some bother to have a gathering, no matter what form it takes, because the conversation doesn’t need to be very long. You need just long enough to tell people you love and cherish them, that the world is better because they’re in it, and that you’d do anything for them.

That’s all the first Christmas was.

Copyright 2020 Brent Olson

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