Over the course of the last few weeks, I’ve been to more grade school “Holiday” concerts than I care to own up to. I was thoroughly distracted from the performances by the fact that I was huddled with the tired masses at a bacterial happy hour (with a multitude of viral chasers). All around me the air echoed with the seasonal sounds: hacking coughs, sneezing noses, and the occasional sonorous sinus moan I like to call the “Elongated OOOOOH.” Dusting off my college statistics, I mentally calculated the probability of being tagged by contagions. I mean, when you’re seated among 200 people there has to be at least one person secretly secreting fluids and hiding a raging fever so as not to miss little Johnny shake his jingle bells behind the tall girl with the big hair in the third row. However, it wasn’t until last week that I focused on the music and realized that every concert celebrated Hanukkah and Kwanzaa, but Christmas was summarily dismissed.
I cerebrally indexed the dreidel songs and Kwanzaa dances. Rudolf was given his own audience-participation sing-a-long; but poor Jesus--there was no room in the auditorium for him. To add insult to injury, I made the secular-sacrilegious mistake of congratulating one principal on the school’s beautiful Christmas tree, only to be told in hushed conspiratorial tones, “It’s a musical tree—we’re not allowed to refer to it as a “Christmas tree” so as not to offend anybody.” Well, what about me? I’m offended.
Look, even though I was born Catholic, when it comes to any celebration I wholeheartedly welcome Mohammad, Buddha, and even Abraham, despite the fact that it always bothered me that he fathered his first born son with his wife Sarah’s maid. (No doubt, Abraham’s story was the first recorded soap opera, but I digress.)The bottom line is this: all these men came into the world bearing messages of peace, and isn’t that what this season is really about? It became my mission to determine where on Earth, or at least New Jersey, Jesus would be welcomed.
I received a beautifully engraved invitation from my two lesbian friends inviting me to a Christmas carol sing-a-long they were hosting at their freshly-painted condo. “Wow!” I thought, “Jesus will love this!” Sadly, he was forbidden by Pope Benedict to attend an event hosted by an unsanctioned union. I’m sure the Pope would have invited Jesus to Rome, but unfortunately he was going on a skiing trip with some Cardinals to the Swiss Alps and wouldn’t be home.
Okay, if we can’t go caroling with the lesbians, where can I bring Jesus to Christmas? Then I had an epiphany (sort of). Surely we’d find Christmas at the mall! Well, I was wrong—there were designer labels and knock-off labels, but no Christmas labels. It didn’t matter though; Macy’s denied Jesus credit. However, the buyer for Bergdorf’s thought his sandals would be a fabulous metro-sexual addition to next season’s men’s cruise-wear collection.
Wait! “I’ll take him to see the Christmas tree at Rockefeller Center!” Where better to find the spirit of Christmas than in the heart of New York City in mid-December? However, I feared he’d be mistaken for a terrorist by one of those militant Christian Midwesterners who invade the Big Apple around this time every year. I didn’t want to be the one responsible for Jesus spending his birthday at Guantanamo Bay.
Then I thought, “I’ll take him to the rectory to break bread with the priests.” Alas, we were turned away by a sign on the door that read, “Closed for lunch. Come back at 2.” Jesus queried, “What happens if someone has the misfortune to need Last Rites administered during lunch?” I replied, “God only knows.” Jesus said, “Unfortunately I don’t.”
So even if you can’t bring Jesus to the office party, bring his message of peace into the world; perform random acts of kindness; be bold and don’t be afraid to wish the world a Merry Christmas.
MERRY CHRISTMAS! HAPPY HANNUKAH! HAPPY KWANZAA! HAPPY WINTER SOLSTICE!