My daughter has a little ceramic Mickey and Minnie calendar set in her kitchen window. Here’s what it said this morning: “Only 354 days till Christmas.” My wife and mother always put up their Christmas trees the day after Thanksgiving and take them down on January 2. My daughter put her trees (that’s right, I said “treeS”) the day after Halloween and they are still up right now. She goes to Zoo Lights at Chaffee Zoo and Christmas Tree Lane every year. She gripes until peppermint mochas are available at Starbucks and starts griping again when they stop selling them. I think it’s fair to say that she’s a fan. As long as something is Christmassy, it’s fine with her. While I enjoy putting up the decorations, I’m always more than ready to put them away. I do, however, admit that I did forget to take down my lights once... for a couple of years in a row. (People rode me about being late with that chore until Memorial Day; after May 25th, I shushed them and argued that I had actually hung them six months early.)
I also had a number of realizations this year, which I’d like to share with you.
1. Your mom doesn’t put out that Christmassy potpourri just in honor of the season. Here’s the real reason: Moms make you take off your shoes in the house in the winter because it’s wet outside and she doesn’t want you messing up the carpet. So everybody runs around in their socks. About two days after the decorations are taken down and the potpourri is thrown away, everyone who visits your home thinks the same thing: “This place smells like a foot. They need to put out some potpourri.”
Revelation: It’s good to own a carpet cleaning business in January.
2. I feel guilty every time I pass mariachis or Salvation Army bands. For years I didn’t know why. I had never heard a live mariachi band until I moved to Fresno in 1989, but I had heard lots of Salvation Army brass bands back in Missouri. Both of them filled me with such morose self-hatred, I didn’t know what to do. I started going to shopping malls with rolls of quarters to dump in those little red buckets, and if I’m at a wedding in Fresno, I always tip the mariachis after they play “Una Paloma Blanca.” But I finally figured it out when we moved into a different house last summer. The Hispanic family living behind us has a party with a mariachi band for every special event in their lives, like weddings, birthdays, anniversaries, quinceaneras, funerals, and, for all I know, seeing a ’69 Impala. After listening to that music for many hours, whether I wanted to or not, it suddenly dawned on me why I feel so guilty.
Revelation: I feel guilty because I’m half German, and we invented the tuba. BTW, Germans are FORCED to play tubas- it’s part of the reparations in the Versailles Treaty; I don’t know who is making my neighbors do it, but I’d like to have a word with them.
3. During the Christmas season, you have the opportunity to eat rare and unusual dishes. For instance, did you know that there is only one fruitcake, and that’s all there ever has been? It was baked in Bad Berneck im Fichtelgebirge (Bavaria) in 1923 by one of the Harvard economists whose guidance led to the collapse of the Weimar Republic in 1933. It is generally regarded as the real instigation for Hitler’s invasion of Poland. Since that time it has been continually re-gifted, passing briefly through my great-grandfather's hands in 1965, who used it to sharpened knives before trading it to Nickerson Farms for a cheese wheel in 1977. (Great. More German guilt.)
Revelation: A lot of people use pot luck Christmas dinners as an opportunity to clean out their refrigerators.
4. We have a Savior Who was born in a barn because his parents couldn’t find a hotel room the night he was born. We have a Lord Who spent most nights for three years sleeping outside or in somebody’s spare room. He told us, “Foxes have holes and the birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head” (Matthew 8:20, AMP).
Revelation: Building affordable housing is a personal faith matter for us at Habitat for Humanity Fresno County. It isn’t just a nice thing to do. We take the story and words and sacrifice of Jesus Christ PERSONALLY. That’s why we do it, and the revelation here is that remembering Jesus is a good reason to do ANYTHING.
We hope you had a great Christmas season. Help Habitat build affordable housing during your happy New Year.