Jesus wouldn’t wear an ugly sweater

By By Ryan Shattuck

By Ryan Shattuck

There’s just something about Christmas time that makes me want to have tiny crackers with tiny pieces of salami with a tiny jar of mustard and a mint. Not too much! Don’t make it too big! I don’t want to spoil the spirit of Christmas by having crackers too big with too much salami and a normal-sized jar of mustard.

Welcome to the beginning of December. In case the spirit of Christmas wasn’t visible the day after Halloween, we’re now into full-throttle December where the only place the spirit of Christmas isn’t visible is in hell. And even the Devil puts up Christmas lights.

I find it appropriate that Christmas is in the last week of the year. It’s such an emotional, polarizing holiday — bringing out the truly best and the truly worst in people — that it could only be at the end of the year. Those wacky sun-worshipping pagans in the fourth century sure knew what they were doing when they picked Dec. 25, and then later, when the Catholic Church decided to capitalize on those wacky pagan rituals — clever, clever, clever. Even though people attend more social events, give more to charity and spend more time with family during the month of December, levels of stress, depression and crime also rise. It’s as if the age-old battle of Good vs. Evil plays out at the end of every year, with the two polar extremes of human nature on display for time and humanity to witness.

Then we get presents!

One of my favorite things about December is that people are allowed to do things and say things and wear things and eat things which they would never do or say or wear or eat at any other time of the year. I have a sweater I occasionally wear that my “friends” affectionately refer to as the “Waldo Krueger” sweater. Could I wear my red striped sweater — which has the uncanny ability to make me look like both the cane-wielding bespectacled nerd who always seems to lose himself, and like Freddy, that villain who oddly seemed to scare ’80s teenagers witless — at any other time of the year? No, I could not. But because it’s December, what normally would be considered gaudy and terrible is now considered festive and fashionable.

Could one possibly wear a red felt hat, complete with a white pompom on the end, at any other time of the year? Let’s hope not. Yet, such Santa-head attire is so common in December that everyone accepts it. At the office. At the dentist. At the gym. At the synagogue. At the proctologist. Even people working retail get away with wearing Santa hats at Christmas time.

Yeah, I know! Mall employees wearing ridiculous headwear to promote mass commercialism! How Kafka-esque.

I also look forward to December, for it is around this time that begins the symphony of bemoaning, conducted by such festive characters as Bill O’Reilly, condemning the politically correct decisions of those businesses who use the words “Happy Holidays” in place of “Merry Christmas.” Never mind the fact that Christmas is already such a commercial force that there exists a $6.5 billion industry for Christmas decorations alone.

No, we must not lose sight of the true meaning of Christmas by replacing it with the word holiday. Perhaps, we should ignore everything else about Christmas that isn’t Christian as well?

I also find ironic those who complain about the word “X-mas,” saying that by using this word one is essentially “x-ing” the name Christ out of Christmas. I’m assuming these people already knew that in the Greek version of the New Testament, the letter X is the first letter of the Christ, and that since the mid-16th century, the letter X has been used as an abbreviation for Christ as well.

Good thing we have people worrying about the wordage being used for Christmas. I might not care whether the hungry have food on the table or the homeless have shelter during this Christmas season, but I will certainly make sure that everyone uses the word “Christmas.”

What would Jesus do? That I don’t know, but I would be willing to guess that even Jesus would be more concerned for other people, as opposed to what people call His holiday.

I’m also pretty sure He wouldn’t wear an ugly sweater.

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