Colony Bay TV

Merry Christmas

December 24, 2011 James Riley

The other night we tooled around Riverside’s Mission Inn for a dose of Christmas lights and Christmas Crowd and Christmas feasting.   Fortunately, the new Air Jordan was not on sale anywhere nearby, so we had a relatively safe evening.    I say “relatively safe,” because there’s something about shepherding 25-30 people (friends and friends’ children) through a teeming horde of revelers on a bitter cold, windy night that just ties a knot somewhere in my lower gut.

Every few years, someone wins the Super Bowl;  there’s a victory parade in the hometown streets, and, sure enough, someone turns over a police car or you watch news coverage of ambulances carrying off the injured.   I’m always surprised by it, for some reason, thinking — “wait, this was a victory parade, right?”

But, in history, crowds and parades and outdoor stump speeches have always been a little dangerous, even when the occasion merits celebration.  Someone is careless with an elbow.  Someone is recovering from too many rum shots.    Someone looks at someone the wrong way, or someone puts a new running shoe on sale, and before you know it, glass is breaking and noses are getting broken.

That seems to be the spirit behind this New England Christmas Law aimed at “loose, idle persons” who, among other things, in their Christmas revelry adopted the “barbarous, inhuman custom of throwing clubs at tame fowl.”

Well, even though the law speaks to the dangerous side of our nature, I’m glad it’s there, if for no other reason than it proves there was some kind of Christmas celebration in New England during the 1770s.    Surely, if these roustabouts were out throwing sticks at chickens on the street, someone was inside, raising a tankard, and saying a prayer to the King of Peace.

That would be my message to all who might come upon these words, anyone still reading:   of all the many Christmas times I’ve enjoyed in my life (51 of them so far), I’m struck by that moment the celebration ends, that sorry morning when the college kids go back off to school, when Uncle Blaine packs up his kids and heads back to Burbank, when Uncle Don is no longer there to tell his jokes around the fire, and when, over time, you realize that, this side of eternity, they will never be there again, that someday the party will be over, that for that bitter understanding there is this peace:

“For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord,”
and if you read a little further,
“…for God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life…”

Did you catch that?  “Everlasting Life.”

Someday, if we believe, the circle will be unbroken.  Someday, the celebration will have no end.  I don’t know about you, but it sounds like a pretty good deal.


Here’s to the party that never ends..


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