Friday’s Weekend Column
Christmas in the Southland

by James Glaser
December 23, 2005

If you are inside a mall shopping, there is the sound of Christmas music, the place is decorated for the holidays, and there is a mob of people doing last minute gift buying, you could be any place in the country. It might be 70 degrees and sunny out side or it might be 10 degrees and snowing, but in the mall it is the same no matter where you are.

At night it is hard to tell where you are. Houses down here in the South are decorated with the same lights as up north, and the newspapers down here are filled with the same ads.

I see a lot of people with smiles on their faces, and the shoppers down here tend to dress up more than I remember them back at home.

There are Christmas tree lots like at home, but the price of a tree is out of sight. In Northome and Mizpah people really complained when the price of a nice tree went from ten to fifteen dollars. You can't even buy a nice wreath for that down here.

I was volunteering today at the LeMoyne Art Foundation as a greeter. As a fund raiser, every year the LeMoyne has a Christmas ornament sale. The whole place is filled with Christmas trees and every tree is covered with ornaments. There are thousands and thousands of them and people come from miles around to shop there.

There are lots of one of a kind, hand painted ornaments, and thousands of mass produced very unusual ones. I bought some peacock ones with real feathers and something real cool for my son, but he reads this column so I am not going to give it away.

This is my first Christmas away from the snow and the cold in thirty years, and I do miss it, but only a little bit. It froze last night and there was the nip of frost in the air when I first went outside this morning. It was brisk, so chilly that I went back in and put on a long sleeve shirt. These are the kind of days that sell leather coats down here. I saw people bundled up like it was below zero, but it wasn't cold enough so that you could see your breath.

One thing that is the same, and that is people North or South are celebrating Christ's birth. Most of us know that Jesus wasn't born on December 25 and that churches started this celebration to replace a pagan holiday, but for many people, this is the only time of year that they really think about God or their fellow man. So maybe this type of hype put on by stores and the media to sell something works out for the best. Workers the nation over get a little bit of time off and many spend that time with family. That is a good thing, no matter why we are doing it.

Jesus has been God forever, so celebrating his few years down here as a man doesn't mean much, but this time we are given every December can be used to bring us closer to our loved ones and our God. We can share gifts with each other to help the economy, but more important than that, this time of year gives us the time to share our love and faith with our family and those in need.

For whatever reason we have this Christmas holiday, we are given some time to do whatever we want, and we can focus on what ever we want. This is a good time of year to think about those people who don't have it as good as we do, and it is a good time to thank the Lord for what we have. Just being born in America is a real blessing and we should appreciate it.

I hope you all can get some joy in this season and I hope you take the time to think about the gift that Christ gave to us. I guess maybe Jesus started this gift giving thing. He gave us his life. The ones we wrap seem pretty small next to that.

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