I Hate Christmas

To many, it’s probably surprising–even irritating–that a former pastor would declare that he hates Christmas. I just have to be honest. In actuality, it’s not really Christmas that I hate. More to the point, it’s what Christmas has become that draws my ire.

Several of my friends have posted an article entitled, “In Case You Missed It: Christmas is About Jesus, the Birth of the Christ.” At one point, I sarcastically commented, “Yikes! When did that happen?” The sad part is that it seems almost necessary to remind people of that reality. It IS about Jesus—or, at least, it used to be.

Lost in the Shuffle

Somewhere along the way, Jesus seems to have gotten lost in the shuffle. The shuffle I speak of is daily life. Or maybe I should say, holiday life. I’m no expert, but it seems to me that Christmas should be a simple time. It should be a time of worship, family, warmth, and learning. For many—if not most—it has become a time of stress, excessive spending, crowded calendars, and no worship. The only learning that takes place is the knowledge that we’re broke.

I can see how things have gotten out of control so easily. After all, giving presents is a good thing. Still, the whole present thing has become the god of Christmas. That’s easy to spot considering the fact that slews of non-Christians celebrate the season. Unfortunately, Christmas without Christ is merely Mas. My Spanish friends can tell you that mas means more. That about sums it up. We give and get more each year. Frankly, it appears we’re having a lot less fun doing it.

Somewhere along the way, the church chose December 25 to celebrate Christ’s birth. We don’t know when his birth actually occurred, but I suppose December 25 is as good a day as any. While celebrating the birth of the Savior seems like it should be a bigger and better celebration, say, than that of our own birthdays, I’m going to go out on a limb to suggest that Jesus isn’t overly pleased with the way we go about it.

All I Want for Christmas

One of the things that brought all this up for me is the fact that there are now radio stations that play nothing but Christmas music that has nothing to do with Jesus. If these stations were your only source of knowledge concerning the holiday, you would think we celebrate snow, trees, and chestnuts.

I especially took note this year of the old Mariah Carey song, “All I Want for Christmas is You.” That’s all you want? Another human being? Frankly, that seems like quite a lot. Subjugating another human being just doesn’t seem to be in the spirit of the season.

I encourage you to, at the very least, take a little time to read one of the Christmas stories from Scripture (Luke 2:1-20 or Revelation 12) and ponder it for a few moments. It might make all the difference for you this year.

[Dave Zuchelli is a graduate of Pittsburgh Theological Seminary and currently resides in Aldie, VA.]

The Look

When Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, announced the vote for the passage of articles of impeachment recently, an amazing thing occurred. If you weren’t watching it live, you probably saw it amid the hundreds of replays it garnered. If you haven’t seen it, it’s a moment everyone should glimpse at least once. Here’s a link to that moment.

Now that you’ve seen it, I’m quite sure you understand why it got so much airplay. Not only is it memorable, it’s priceless. Apparently the House Democrats were given strict orders to curtail any celebratory outbursts that may have been welling up inside. Despite the edict to remain silent and somber, some of the Representatives just couldn’t contain themselves. They began to shout out with glee—an emotion fitting for the season of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, but not for the moment of impeachment.

Unparalleled

Ms. Pelosi put an immediate stop to the celebration, as well she should have. The way she did it, however, was unparalleled. She curtly waved the piece of paper she held in her hand and gave the offending Reps “The Look.” If you grew up in an Italian family as I did, you know The Look. Come to think of it, most families had some version of The Look. 

Usually, The Look was executed by the mother—although some fathers had it mastered as well (my Dad never bothered with The Look—he went straight to the polenta stick). If this move was used in your household, you have no doubt been indelibly marked by it, and you can still remember it to this day.

When The Look was performed, everything else stopped. Screaming children grew silent, and all shenanigans ceased. It was foreboding and final—no ifs, ands, or buts ensued. At that point, it was all over but the shouting (actually, no shouting was necessary once The Look had been detected). Any actions beyond The Look were feared because they could result in some sort of crime befitting capital punishment.

Refreshing to See

It was refreshing to see Nona Pelosi shoot The Look to the culprits. I hadn’t seen it in a long time, and it’s good to know that some people still use it. It was rather nostalgic to watch, but it also caused me to stop what I was doing and do a quick reflection on my current actions lest I be one of the guilty parties. It was also pretty funny to see her give the evil eye to so many adults (I use the term loosely). 

Scripture has revealed to us that we should be disciplinarians of our children lest they go astray (Proverbs 13:24). Ms. Pelosi showed her prowess at such discipline in that fateful moment. She obviously has had much practice over the years being an Italian-American Mama and Nona. When her minions zealously broke into their joyful outburst, it only took one glance to remind them of their three-year journey to “solemnly and prayerfully” impeach the president. Thank God for The Look!

[Dave Zuchelli is a graduate of Pittsburgh Theological Seminary and currently resides in Aldie, VA.]

Well-Spoken

Wow! Mike Bloomberg (newly announced candidate for president) has apologized to Cory Booker for calling him, “well-spoken.” Horror of horrors! 

SONY DSC

He was criticized for his comment which, to me, sounds like a compliment. Honestly, I would love to be known as well-spoken. But then, I’m not into the whole “woke,” PC thing. Booker was apparently, “Taken aback” by the comment. Critics called the compliment…er, slur…a “racist trope.” 

Quite honestly, I’m more offended by the word, trope, than the term well-spoken (mostly because I don’t know what trope means). I would love to take a vote among all Americans to see what percentage of folks would find it insulting to be known as well-spoken. Things have changed. When I was in high school, my teachers always drilled it into our heads that we should work hard at becoming well-spoken. I never quite achieved that high plateau, but I’m still trying. Maybe I should quit while I’m behind.

Interestingly Enough

Interestingly enough, after Kamala Harris dropped out of the presidential sweepstakes, Booker made the comment, “It is a problem that we now have an overall campaign for the 2020 presidency, that has more billionaires in it than black people.” Bloomberg, of course, is a billionaire. That’s two strikes, Michael.

Actually, I was kidding earlier when I said I didn’t know the definition of the word, trope. But to be truthful, I’m guessing most people don’t know that particular word at all. It’s only come into vogue during the past couple of years. It’s been around for centuries, but very few people actually used it during the course of everyday conversation. A trope is a figure of speech that moves the meaning of the text from literal to figurative. An example of a common trope would be, “Stop and smell the roses.” When you say it, you probably aren’t talking about roses per se. Fortunately, everyone gets it.

Recently, people have used another trope to point to tropes they don’t like. That trope is “dog whistle.” They don’t literally mean dog whistle. They mean that someone is using a trope that only certain people will hear and understand. Understand? I know. It can be confusing.

A Ticking Time Bomb

It used to be that everyone knew a trope when they heard it (even if they didn’t know that the technical name for it was trope). For example: If someone said, “This is a ticking time bomb,” we knew they weren’t literally referring to an actual explosive device. 

Unfortunately, today we’re coming up with new tropes that no-one immediately gets—like “well-spoken” or “hired help.” I once used the term, hired help, and almost got my head handed to me. I had to explain that all of us in the office—including me—were the hired help.

It’s getting to the place where I would like someone to compile a comprehensive list of what I’m allowed to say. One of my pet peeves is having the English language stolen out from under my nose. See what I did there?

[Dave Zuchelli is a graduate of Pittsburgh Theological Seminary and currently resides in Aldie, VA.]