One of the sights Avery saw yesterday was a large tent where they were selling live Christmas trees. I love live Christmas trees as long as they stay out of my house. To me they are just another mess to clean up. And they cut them in October so they are very dry by the time you get them up in the house. Its not worth the short, dirty limitations of their life. I went to a prelit tree last year. Its a controversy in our house between Doc and me but he does not have to clean it up and does not even see the mess they make. He vows to get a "real" tree next year. But this is all beside the point.
As we drove by looking at the Christmas trees this monstrosity (see visual aid) popped out of the crowd. Up north you would never see something like this. The flock trees here in Mississippi. I understand why they do it... so it looks like snow. It never snows here. During the winter and Christmas time you constantly see reference to snow... in the Christmas specials, commercials, etc. My daughter keeps asking me when its going to snow. I tell her "never." Her response is... "But when?" She just doesn't get it. Neither do I. Christmas always had snow for me. Coming from Boston, it is very sad to not have seen snow in years but sadder still to know my kids do not get to create memories that include snow ball fights, snow angels, sledding and inevitably snow in the boots and up the back. *shudder*
So in Mississippi, they flock their frees. It is some sort of spray on stuff that adheres to the branches of the trees. This is weird enough, for the Northerner but I guess understandable. But... when they start flocking trees into bizarre, never seen before snow colors or even Christmas colors things are more than a little strange. It goes against the laws of nature and I am against that! (Or as they say down here... "I am againit.") But apparently my daughter is not. For this is what had her exclaiming... "Mommy, I love this world!." Ok I can understand how a 4 year old might think a pink or purple Christmas tree is just the pinnacle of what makes this world and season the most special. But I got different ideas.
The whole, "I love this world" comment got me thinking... in conjunction with some radio talk shows and game shows I was listening to on Saturday as I drove to pick up my husbands Christmas present. There was a lot of talk about inclusivity and tolerance for the diverse religious celebrations happening around this time of year, i.e. Hanukkah, Christmas, and Kwanza just to name a few. I think its fair to say that the Christian religion and Christmas time overshadow the other's holidays in the media and in our culture. There is a real debate over the concern that we do a dishonor to those who do not celebrate who and what we celebrate. I can not laugh or scoff at these concerns. I do not want to exclude others. I want to include them in the good feelings of the season. I think its fine to say "Happy Holidays!" to acknowledge that though this is a special time of the year of many people it is not always special for the same reason. I want to respect the beliefs and feelings of others. I know why the season is special to me. I know why I am celebrating. I do not have to be insensitive to others in order to validate my own beliefs and faith.
There is a fine line between respecting others traditions and not watering down your own. But as a "Christian" I believe it is in the spirit of the season and ultimately our faith to love others. "Love your neighbor as yourself" does not mean to love only those most like us or love only those who celebrate what we celebrate but to love, period. Love is a form of action. For me, saying "Happy Holidays" is an act of love and one my God asks of me. The intolerance sometimes found amongst Christians is embarrassing to me. God created and loves the creation. And to say, as my four year old daughter did, "I love this world" means to embrace not only the green trees of the season but the purple and pink ones as well... even if it seems counter to the norm. For that is what God asks us to do.