Blessed is the season which engages the whole world in a conspiracy of love! ~Hamilton Wright Mabie
Evangelical Atheists love to remind Christians that Christmas is (insert smug, condescending tone here) actually a pagan holiday, and Jesus wasn’t even born on December 25th. Yes, dear Capital A Atheists, we know. We are not revering a day on the calendar. We just use that day on the calendar to honor Someone who is a daily part of our lives. But I’m not just looking at you, Militant Atheists, as the gleeful spoilers of all the Christmas fun. I had a fundamentalist Christian refuse to return my “Merry Christmas!” for the same reason. Instead, she was so bitter, nasty, and hateful to me that I dearly hope she never tells anyone else she’s a believer. No one would want to be a part of what she’s involved in. And before you go and tell me not all Atheists and Christians are like that, believe me, I know. Some of my favorite people on the planet are atheists or of other faiths, and they endure and return my Christmas cheer. They are secure enough in their belief that mine doesn’t threaten them, and vice versa. It’s lovely. Wouldn’t it be great if we could all be that way?
What we focus on is what we see in the world. We can choose to focus on the ugliness of the Christmas season. The mobs on Black Friday, the phone scams, the guys asking for change on the street corner who have their brand new Highlander parked a couple of blocks away, even the cranky Atheists and crazy Christians who are so intent on being right that they neglect to be kind. Certainly, if we want to find reasons to dislike our fellow man this Christmas, we can find plenty.
Instead, what if we focused on the good? What if we looked for the love in the season? I want to focus on the generous heart of every person I see putting change in the Salvation Army bucket. I choose to see parents giving up new glasses again this year, so their kids can have the toys they’ve been craving. I choose to see friends and family gathering around festive tables, overeating and enjoying each other. I choose to see precious babies on the laps of mall santas everywhere, joy and wonder evident on their faces. In all those mall shoppers which make it impossible to get anywhere quickly and who take up all the room in front of the rack I need to get to, I choose to see a loving mom/wife/sister/friend, who just wants the gift she picks out to be perfect.
In focusing on the good, I am not changing the world. The good and the bad will happen, even if I stick my head under the covers and don’t come out until February. The focus changes ME, not the world around me. This is not a new concept, but it’s one that’s easy to lose sight of.
The quote by Hamilton Wright Mabie sums it up for me. No matter what our belief system is, no matter our opinion about the rightness or the wrongness or the commercialization of the season, if we look for the love, we just might wind up having a Merry Christmas after all.