Well, this thing right here is some type of landmark, I'd guess? After discharging from the U.S.A.F. back in 80; I began at some point, a sort of "tradition" or another, that of cobbling together, about this time of year; a missive of questionable merit. Normally, some type of nomenclature such as "Beware; for here is yet another genuine, bogus non-card, card". This was to prepare and alert (somewhat) the reader for what followed. Somewhen along the line, I adopted the use of graph paper as the "stationery". Some of the non-cards in years past included some rather poorly rendered drawings. Typical of these artworks, one might picture a "Santa" figure, with a circle about him, and a diagonal line drawn through, so to indicate a "no Santa zone".
Most of these un-cards are careful to alert the reader of a forthcoming definite lack. No New England-y type snow scenes, zero evergreens, zip chatty newsletters, nil reindeer and such like stuff. My Mom was real big on cards, she loved both getting and giving them. To me, snow was just so much ice falling out of the sky; and I never did trust that "Santa" dude back at Montgomery Ward's when I was yet young enough to sit on his knee, so to chat up the weirdo. Moreover, I found it disturbing as a youngster to note the obviously fake beard on the guy, but as a boy, could not imagine how best to discuss the topic. Mom (or somebody?) apparently "wanted" me to believe in the icy strange pants drill, and so; I pretended to buy the yarn. For precisely whose benefit this pretending went on, I (to this day) can't say.
I can still recall my brother Jim attempting to convert me out my deep agnosticism on the whole Christmas schmeer. I was perhaps a first or second grader, so Jim must have been about 11? He was trying to convince me of how terribly reasonable it was to build "here". I recall objecting at one point in the conversation; "We don't even have a fireplace, so how could it be that the guy drops in?". His memorable and stunning response; "He uses the air ducts on the furnace", seemed an even worse answer than the fireplace drill. Our furnace louvers were about 1/4 of an inch wide! How small afterall, is jolly old Saint Nick anyhow? And how could such a teensy person lug that monster bag around?. . .
Honestly, I strongly doubt that it once occurred to me to surmise, that the link to be made here is to a magical, or mysterious reality. The logistics and the planning required to gain entry on millions of households, in only a few hours time, was "where" my brain lived in those days. The astounding amount of speed and flawless execution such an annual reverse burglary would have required, meant (in brief) that I simply assumed that these people buying into the story were insane. Ergo, Santa is not a left-brained phenomenon. The linear, logical and reasonable are supposed to be on vacation "here". The right brain was/is being given permission (temporarily!) to operate unmolested. I never, in those days; thunk that. Our very human need to believe in a terribly competent "father" (of some kind); who loves all children (even me?) just did not ever cross the brain scope in those days. Further, the premise that the cat was watching my every move, such that I could score points, so to derive cool stuff, seemed both; way too simple, and also more than a little perverse of the creep.
All this said, it seems to me now, that I was out to "correct a problem". I had somehow become the sole survivor of logic and truth, and it (apparently?) was my job to "fix" those poor saps who had become unfortunately seasonally delusional? That said, what better method then, than do de-program the victims with a bit of shock therapy? Thus, Christmas was never a matter (for me) of basking in a glow, nor enjoying the getting all sentimental about days gone by. Hoping for a better tomorrow, was (in my book) a tomorrow devoid of lunatic assertions about invisible fat people. Other than these observations today, I cannot really say just why I bothered generating my monstrous non-card things all those years. The summary of many of them usually sounded something like; "Christmas is a religious feast. . . which has gotten entirely out of control!". No longer about Messiah Jesus, but twisted somehow into a kind of communal guilt tripping over whether or not one is properly "in the spirit of the thing". If one is approved on that score, we are then to behold some inane one upmanship gig about getting-even, (plus some) on the gifts given (and received) tally? Who (in their right mind), could possibly care about either? If Christmas is fundamentally a "caring-for" day, them's some mighty slim pickin's!
So, to return briefly to the original topic, this marks the first ever cyber-digital type of non-card, card I've generated. No longer handwritten, and then xeroxed down at the U.P.S. store, this here model is all 21st cen! And to be honest with you, the writing of it hasn't been much of a priority for me this year. Not even I care about the blasted thing, but for Mom, and for tradition's sake, I will hammer this rascal out. Behind or perhaps beneath all of those previous non-cards is an unspoken "beef' with Dec. 25. And not to put too fine a point on it, but the modern version of the day is horrendously and astoundingly depressing. Some vague statistic I pretend to recall is that suicide attempts skyrocket during (precisely) "the season". I, for one am not surprised in the least, supposing such is actually the case. The craziness of a "happy/sad" day is confusing enough, that perhaps a little sign; or bumper sticker might help clear things up? It might be a little like those drivers you see all over the roadways. You wonder where their sign is. You are on a major artery in town, with a posted limit of 35. Clown-zilla, smack in front of you; is blazing right along at 22? Where is the sign? Or, how about we just put a bumper sticker on, reading "no license, no insurance"? So thus, for Christmas, the deal, is that I am supposed to "care" about "the season" (yuck!) by eagerly listening to forecasts of probable retail sales? That (?) is what the "joy" is all about? An invented "marketing opportunity", specially designed for families with youngsters, and this year's version of gross sales, versus years-past, kinda forgets something. That little matter is that not all of us have mates, not every person has children. The marketing and profits all hinge upon marriage. And as a single, my sign plainly reads "I don't belong here". If you don't have a tyke to bounce on the knee, nor a sweetheart to snuggle with, the fiesta in question turns out to be a day off work, maybe (if somebody takes pity on you) some turkey and spuds, and a day to loaf. It's a sugar coated Saturday, in which the acquisition of more "stuff" is supposed to gladden the heart? Not depressing enough for you? Oh, I forgot to mention that to notice the sadness of this is "not being in the spirit of the season", strictly verboten!
True to form however, as with many of the previous versions of this mess, I shall next proceed to abruptly shift gears, so to wax eloquent on an (apparently) unrelated topic. I've been thinking lately about Job. To me, the whole Christmas gig is in that short little book. In my Bible, the thing spins up on pg. 662. If you get to Psalms, just back up a few pages. Christmas is Job, at least for this year's version of the anti-card. The poor guy keeps saying essentially, "Hey look, if I'm wrong, then I'm wrong, and I'll come clean, but you could, at least do me the simple honor of telling me where it was that I supposedly went so far off the rails!". Dial tone. Or worse than a dial tone, the line has gone clean dead. There is no answer to be had for the righteous-est man on earth, as he is unfairly crushed.
Hmmm, where else have we heard this idea? The champion of right-way-ness in all Earth, being crushed, though he himself did no wrong? Ring a bell? Job is a type of the Messiah! The inscrutable and seemingly "pointless" devouring of that honest dude Job, sounds to us, to have been some sort of awful mistake.
See? The ordinary way we look at things, is much like Santa. Picture this, if you do good, you get pinball machines, and go-carts. You screw up, you get a lump of coal! Apparently, we are pre-wired to view reality through some sort of promise and reward type of lens. The Hebrew understanding of their champion is David the King, that military genius, and swashbuckling vato of success. Jesus is walking around saying stuff like; "I'm heading on up to Jerusalem, they'll kill me, then put me six feet under; and on the third day I'll bust out of the tomb". So (naturally) the 12 figured that either He'd been out in the sun a little too long, or that this was some kind of metaphorical type "spiritual" teaching. Even on the day of the murder, maybe (just maybe) one person on the planet "got it" besides The King. Remember that Mary came beforehand, anointing His body for burial. She knew, what you now know, it was the only way!
The Jews figured that the Son of David would open up a king-sized can of whup-ass, and drive the stinkin' Romans out, (if He were truly The King that is). The entire concept of the unfair punishment of the only good Guy ever, and Him crushed to death (this pleasing to the Father?) just did not crop up on the brain scope. Doesn't "victory" mean. . . victory? Since when is "winning" defined as "getting pounded into the soil"? How could conquest of the nations be a fall guy taking the rap for crimes he never committed? Overcoming, solving, repairing the woes of the world seem to require a "going up". From our perspective, greatness, appears to be basic, but the only real solution is actually a crushing loss, bringing a dreadful sorrow. When it came, nobody saw it coming, certainly not then! And to be honest, nobody ever would or could get it, at least not without help. Help came.
In his day, Job tried as hard ever as he could, to hold up his end of the bargain, yet in the end, had to fold. The righeous-est man on Earth failed. We needed another Job, a "super-Job", who although fully man, could bear that Almighty crushing, and like the lamb led to slaughter, never once claim His rights in the process!
The magic of Christmas, is just about "here" somewheres. Post resurrection, and with the aid of the Spirit Holy, the early believers were practically lining up to likewise participate in this new thing in Earth, this "winning by losing". Their smashing victory, and overturning of the Roman Empire was in the participation with their Captain; as He captured and turned the hearts and minds, of the many! The weak, though weak indeed, was proving stronger than the strong! Their loss, (with Help and in Christ alone) became an unheard of kind of win. The ugly, marred visage of Him-crushed (who was no "looker" to begin with), became in them the Beauty-everlasting. He, The Finder, the Friend, the True Brother, Him accepting them willingly, intercepts the fury from on-high in His body. The "wall" He thereby forms, proves to be the only shield available when that Un-created Rage, long predicted; finally and actually does manifest.
"Maranatha, even so, come soon Lord Jesus", is a wild thing to say! Think it over. We are pleading with the High-Holy-One, to come burn down reality, so to shatter beyond any hope of recovery, the world, and (near as I can tell) the universe! We are asking Him to be The Final Calamity (in Person), and that before our very eyes! The insane high treason of the enemy forever blown to flinders, all human and demonic wickedness to come to a permanent and screeching halt, this devastation in blinding violence; it's this we ask for? Devastation, way way beyond some puny super nova, or even some type of unimaginable "galactic uber-bomb", we plead for the return!
The crushing of the one Innocent Man, that true-Job, is the only shelter ever invented, which could (and surely shall!) survive that day. And He came willingly? There is a deeper magic then. Our shabby insane market holiday is but a dim whisper of the fiercely real, the True Father All Seeing, who lovingly prepares the only present worth-having, in that great and terrible day; life!
They call Him "The Save-er", and save-indeed He does! Saving from sin, and from death, so too from the hell of fire. He thereby saves from fear, from fear's twin; loneliness, and even from sadness, but best, and first-always, He is saving us. . . from Him! It was the only way, left open; and He took it!
Oddly then, this type of thinking reverses things, making you, yourself, into the Christmas present. That beautifully wrapped mystery turns out to be y'all! And it is the one He most eagerly anticipates opening! Merry Christmas, you Christmas present-you! Bask in that glow, loaf, and remember. Hope in the surely better day coming. Eat lots of turkey, bounce many little kids on your knee, it is a religious feast, gone all right!