I work in retail. I sell books. This will be my sixth Christmas season with the company I work for; I worked two or three other Christmases with other retail outfits. I love what I do. I love the activity and I sell something that I love: books. Everyday is different and I get a certain amount of joy out of getting the book into the customer's hand. Nine times out of ten the whole transaction is easy and friendly, that other one out of ten doesn't often cause me angst. Every once in a while some kook or somone who is having a horrible day and decides to take it out me will ruffle my feathers, but its not that big of a deal.
I must say that I have gotten a kick out of this little controversy over what to say to someone as they leave the store. There are some who say that in order to be "politically correct" we must say "Happy Holidays," then there are those who say that we should say "Merry Christmas." As a retail dawg I could really care less. I say thank you and take your money. I usually add a "have a nice day," or a "take care and drive safe." I just don't have time to wade into that controversy and I really don't care. My ambivalence to the whole thing is almost frightening to me, I suppose I should care, but I don't. The whole "merry Christmas v. happy holidays" brouhaha doesn't even register on the "is this pertinent to my salvation" scale. Its not, so I don't worry about it.
Since I work in book trade I see alot of crazy titles. Two of my favorite are fighting over Christmas. One comes from the "right" the other from the "left." Each one accuses the other of taking over Christmas. I'm happy to report that neither is selling very well. Thought, there is one book that has been flying off the shelves called Misquoting Jesus. I'm reading that right now myself. It is actually interesting. Thought, I'm afraid it is going to quickly go he route of "Jesus couldn't of said that!" which always drives me nuts. Right now, though the author is giving the history of how the Bible came to be what it is. I never realized it before, but it thought that most of the people during biblical times were illiterate, I guess in the back of my mind I knew that, but I never made connections. The basic premise behind the book, I think, is that through human error and political meddling the text of the scriptures has changed (that is either through hook or by crook it ain't what it was meant to be...) I shall be interested to see what his conclusions are, that is if it keeps my interest. We shall see.
Tonight, as I was driving home from work I was listening to NPR and they had a story about "megachurches" being closed on Christmas day which to me seems like a contradiction and falls squarely in my "is the pertinent to my salvation" radar. Bunny Diehl has some thoughts this. You can read them here and here. One of my favorite bloggers (hat You Do, Do Quickly) has some thoughts on this issue too.
Here's what I think: there should be a church service on Christmas Day. I can remember having a service on Christmas Day and the almost literally the only people there were the pastor (my father, generally), my mother, me, and the organist. But the option was there, there were others there, but it was not the best attended service, but I still think it is important to have a service on Christmas Day. It doesn't have to be a fancy, bring down the house service (I've experienced those, usually on Christmas Eve and they are fun, but can be very distracting and too showy) but something quiet and meditative. I have always thought that a Christmas Day service can be the first subtle Lenten service.
Blessings to all.