Wineskins Archive

February 6, 2014

Religious Christmas Stuff (Nov-Dec 2000)

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by Mark Moore
November – December, 2000

What about all this religious Christmas stuff? Is it really Jesus’ birthday? I don’t think so. I used to be sure it wasn’t, but Donny Parker made me question my thinking.

Donny was the best friend a seven-year-old could ever have. We did everything together. We rode bikes together, ate King Vitaman Cereal together, played war together, and spent the night at each other’s house every weekend.

We were blood brothers. We both hated girls, and we stuck up for each other when someone called me fat or him four-eyes. We even had a secret handshake – a true friendship.

Donny looked up to me and rightfully so. I was older than him by two months, a fact I frequently reminded him of, and I out-weighed him by thirty pounds, a fact he frequently reminded me of. Age and weight are two factors that loom large in seven-year-olds’ relationships, so when Don had a question, he would often come to me.

One December day, as we played in a snowbank, Donny had a question. We had been talking about Christmas, the number one December topic for seven-year-olds, when he said, “Mike, I was wonderin’, is Christmas really Jesus’ birthday?”

I must confess now that I rarely, if ever, knew the answers to any of Don’s questions. Usually I’d just act like I knew and he would believe me. But this time was different. I actually knew the answer. This was my chance to tell Don something about Jesus other than he was a prefix for various swear words.

“No! No! No!” I blurted out, scorning Don for his blatant ignorance. “It’s not his birthday and don’t let anyone tell you different. No one knows when his birthday is!”

Don sat there for a while, almost embarrassed that he had even asked.

He knew better than to argue theological issues with a guy who went to church on Wednesday nights, but under his breath he mumbled, “If nobody knew when my birthday was, I wouldn’t mind if they just picked a day.”

I still remember what Donny mumbled that day in a snowbank. Donny, who had never been to church a day in his life, saw a smiling Jesus who said, “Go ahead, just pick a day!” and I saw a frowning Jesus yelling, “No! no! No! For the last time, it’s not my birthday!”

Do we really think that he cringes when we sing about mangers? When he hears songs about Bethlehem and wise men, does he pull his hair and say, “It never says three, it never says three ….” I doubt it. I really doubt it.

All these years later, I wonder if Don remember what I told him. I hope not, because he now has a two-year-old who’s almost ready to ask him the same question.

What a shame if that’s the only thing he remembers about his friend who went to church three times a week.Wineskins Magazine

Mark Moore

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