So many people throughout the world celebrate Christmas, it is hard to believe that the day is a non-Christian construct.
Many Christians view the day with considerable reverence, but that reverence is based on a 2,000-year-old shared experience of belief rather than a celebration of something that actually occurred on the 25th of December.
The date of the birth of Jesus Christ is not recorded in the Bible; however, in the Gospels of Luke and Matthew the place of his birth is said to be Bethlehem, in Judea.
Christmas wasn’t celebrated, as such, until the year 336, in Rome. Dec. 25 already was a day of merry-making, due to the traditional observance of the winter solstice, the shortest day of the year. After that solstice, every day brought closer the warmer and brighter days of spring. Also, Jesus was described in the Gospel of John as the Light of the World.
And that was something to celebrate.
It was quite a party, apparently. Early in the 17th century, the Pilgrims banned Christmas because it was known as a time of drunkenness.
Today, Christmas is both a time of fun and reverence, depending on whom you are, where you are and what you believe.
Stories such as “A Christmas Carol,” remind us that Christmas is also a time of extending kindness to others, thus the custom of the giving of gifts and offering help to the needy.
There also are rumors of Christmas miracles, such as one that allegedly occurred out on the desert of Eastern Idaho, back din the 1950s, where there was a small radio station that broadcast about 12 hours a day.
The owner of the station, Clyde Emerson, every year would gather from among his listeners a group of would-be thespians to write and put on a Christmas play.
On a particular year, the play as usual was about Mary, Joseph, and the Christ child traveling to Bethlehem, having to stay overnight in a manger and being visited by shepherds and then three wise men.
The performers stood around two microphones in the studio of the little building that housed the station and read their lines from mimeographed copies of the script. The sound effects were handled by two people, one of whom could make donkey-hoof sounds by tapping his mouth with his fingers and another who had figured how to imitate the baaa-ing of sheep.
Just as the play got going, the lights went out, along with the telephone.
The performers stayed for awhile, then felt their ways out the door and drove home.
The owner of the radio station sighed, put on his coat and opened the door to let himself out.
Just then, the sheriff’s car pulled up, and the sheriff got out. He walked over to the radio station owner and said, “Great radio play tonight, Clyde,” he said. Best you’ve ever put on. The wife and I were listening, and she was so thrilled I just had to drive over, seeing as how we’re just a couple of blocks from each other, and thank you. It certainly made our Christmas.”
Clyde said, “What? We couldn’t broadcast. The power was out.”
“No, it wasn’t,” the sheriff said. “We heard every word.”
Before Clyde could get into his car, others came by to tell him how much they had enjoyed the radio play.
He kept trying to tell them that the station had lost electricity, and that they must have been listening to another station, but they’d have none of it. All they could talk about was how much they had enjoyed it.
Finally, the pastor of his little church came by, and mentioned, as had the others, how wonderful the radio play had been.
“I just don’t understand it,” Clyde said. “The power was out. The place was dark. We couldn’t see to read the script.”
The pastor thought about it for a long time, then said:
“Clyde, the only thing I can think of is that your electricity may have been out. And I don’t doubt you one second about that.
“But, friend, the power was not out. “On this holy night, you had the power with you all the time.”
Merry Christmas, everybody.