“God gives every bird its food, but He does not throw it into its nest.”
– J. G. Holland
A bluejay rests on a cold, bare branch. With plumage brilliant as a crystal sapphire star, eyes like steely coal, a peaceful, united world unfolds all around as pink and orange dawn breaks the silent night.
It’s Christmas morning in Wise County. Families come together and enjoy the love they’ve created. It’s been that way for as long as anyone can recall. Celebrating the holiday feels as natural as watching leaves cascade from trees in the fall.
But somewhere out there, something just doesn’t feel right.
That’s because every year about this time for the past decade or so various pundits get excited and upset. They claim there is a so-called “War on Christmas” raging across the landscape.
A sign in a department store reading “Happy Holidays” instead of “Merry Christmas” harkens the end of spiritualism. The local city park failing to have a nativity scene or a public school calling the time off “winter break” instead of “Christmas break” translates to a secular ruination of America.
But did people ever really expect their children to learn the story of Jesus’ birth at Belk’s or Kmart? Should the wording of some sign in a big-box store, or the placement of a plastic model, dictate what is and isn’t the meaning of Christmas?
The heart, soul and tradition of Christmas is kept alive and burning inside the home, a cultural hearth. Children learn the meaning of the season from loved ones they look up to. At home is where children learn to cherish ideas like love, compassion, empathy and sharing. And the best way to pass down those characteristics is through example.
It can be understood in action – in the halls of churches, and from agencies like WARM that feed the poor, or the Spirit of Christmas helping families provide presents for their children.
Getting upset over the wording of a temporary sign in a private business or in a public office is obviously not setting a good example. It only creates an Us-versus-Them scenario. It creates a war and controversy where one does not need to exist.
Why on earth would anyone think it’s a good idea to create a war in the name of the King of Peace?
For all is one. God exists everywhere, whether it’s literally spelled out or not. God lives in the stars and reflected light of the planets and moon melded in the purple, cosmic night coating the sky like velvet on a still Christmas Eve. God lives in the excitement stirring every child’s mind as they try to fall asleep under the shared cosmos. It burns in the bluejay perched like a puffy jewel on a bare branch outside a kitchen window.
The message and spirit of Christmas doesn’t gain its meaning in stores, schools or in the public square. Just like the proverbial bird, we must build its nest and maintain its serenity.
Brandon Evans is a reporter for the Messenger.