By Martin | Wednesday, December 10, 2014 | 2:39 PM
It is Christmas in Williamsburg, 1771. shopkeepers are carving sale signs for their windows and playing Bing Crosby records; Benjamin Franklin is trying to invent the first electric singing fish; Dick Clark is preparing to drop the ball at Times Square; and someone is baking that fruit cake I ate last week. Some things never change. We still have sales and Christmas music. Unfortunately, someone did invent the singing fish. Dick Clark no longer drops the ball and a well-intentioned cook with too much time on his hands is somewhere mixing prunes, chopped eels, mulch, and minced cardboard in order to make a fruitcake. Ahh, the heartburn of Christmas.
Christmas in Colonial Virginia was basic. Walmart was not open on Thanksgiving back then so shoppers had to wait until December to buy the stuff they would be thankful for on the next Thanksgiving. Crafts and toys were popular. Teenage Mutant Puritan Turtles were the hot items. Virginians dined on roast duck, sweet potatoes, scalloped oysters, and a fruitcake that came over on the Mayflower. There was church attendance, dinner, a party, and a few visits. There was also a plentiful supply of wine, brandy, and rum punch, which probably made church attendance much more enjoyable.
There were some Christmas hymns like "Joy to the World," and "Hark, the Herald Angels Sing," but not to the tunes we know. The classics that bring out the true meaning of Christmas did not come along until the 20th Century. The list includes "All I Want for Christmas is My Two Front Teeth," Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer," anything by Alvin and the Chipmunks, and the theme song from the annual Paranoids R Us Convention, "Do You Fear What I Fear?"
One of my favorites is "Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer." The story was created in Chicago, in 1938, by an employee of Montgomery Ward as a present to his daughter. We can be thankful he was from Chicago. If he had been from Alabama the reindeer would have been named Dashboard, Scooter, Booger, and Spitzen, Vomit, Cooter, Hummer, and Gritszen. The story was about a reindeer named Rudolph who was ostracized by the other reindeer because of a physical abnormality . . . a glowing red nose. The idea came naturally to the author. He was taunted as a child for being shy and small.
It is Christmas 2014. We will celebrate with many traditions that include shopping, singing, eating, and attending church, hopefully not prefaced by rum punch. Some of us will receive fruitcakes. I may not now. If you happen to sing about Rudolph think about the words. Do you know anyone this Christmas who has been ostracized for being different? Were you ever treated that way as a child?Were you ever guilty of treating someone rudely because they were different or because of a physical abnormality?
Welcome to Rudolph's world before Santa changed it. What did Santa do? He only looked beyond Rudolph's flaw and changed his world forever. Merry Christmas to him. What did Jesus do with the woman at the well? He ignored her flaws and changed her world forever. Merry Christmas to her. Jesus looked at flaws not as barriers to relationships but as bridges to righteousness. He still does. Merry Christmas to us.
Loving people in spite of their flaws is the story of Christmas. A perfect baby entered an imperfect world in order to change it forever. Love someone this Christmas. Ignore their flaws. Point them to the One who was flawless but understands imperfection and actually forgives failure. Merry Christmas to them. Unlike Rudolph you won't go down in history but you just may help someone else write a new chapter in His Story. Merry Christmas to you.