“Are you ready for Christmas?” is a question we use to initiate small talk this time of year as commonly as we greet each other with “Merry Christmas”. Usually we get a pretty standard answer and on our way we go. But I got an answer Friday that took me by surprise.
As I was being wheeled out to my transportation home by a rather somber hospital employee, I couldn't take the silence and offered up the question. But instead of the standard “Almost” or “Just about”, I got “I don't celebrate Christmas.” Momentary awkward silence. Thankfully she let me off the hook pretty quickly and followed up with “If people treated each other the way they do on Christmas the other 364 days of the year, the world would be a much better place, so I choose to celebrate life every day.” Well, I couldn't argue with that, even though I felt like somehow I should.
My mind whirled with all kinds of thoughts about Christmas, life in general, and the profound or clever things I might say in response. But I sat there in silence as we descended to the ground floor in the elevator. As she rolled me out, I offered up some lame response that I don't even remember now. The only thing I did say in response that might bear repeating was that some of us needed a day like Christmas to remind us of how we should treat each other the other 364 days of the year.
I know that a little baby boy was born in Bethlehem over 2,000 years ago and lived a life that we can only hope to come close to duplicating. He died on a cross, and more importantly, rose from the dead on the third day in order to give us the opportunity to have everlasting life. I bet that little baby boy feels a lot like the somber hospital employee does. If we care only about ourselves for 364 days and spend lots of money on each other and pretend we care for only one day, then we make a mockery out of his sacrifice on that cross. So let's make sure we celebrate his resurrected life (and ours) every day and treat each other with kindness and consideration. Let's make sure Christmas day is the day we just pause to remember why we celebrate life the other 364 days of the year!