Oh, my gosh..two weeks ‘till Xmas.
Okay now right there I’ve alienated many of you for daring to use the letter X to replace Christ in the word Christmas. If you really want to sap the peace-on-earth spirit right out of the season for some people, just send them a card with the word Xmas on it.
When in doubt about the validity of most any claim, I usually consult with the website, Snopes.com which does extensive research to sort out truth from fiction. Here’s what Snopes has to say about Xmas.
The abbreviation of ‘Xmas’ for ‘Christmas’ is neither modern nor disrespectful. The notion that it is a new and vulgar representation of the word ‘Christmas’ seems to stem from the erroneous belief that the letter “X” is used to stand for the word “Christ”because of its resemblance to across, or that the abbreviation was deliberately concocted to take the “Christ”out of Christmas ” actually, this usage is nearly as old as Christianity itself, and its origins lie in the fact that the first letter in the Greek word for ‘Christ’ is ‘chi,’ and the Greek letter ‘chi’ is represented by a symbol similar to the letter ‘X’ in the modern Roman alphabet. Hence ‘Xmas’ is indeed perfectly legitimate abbreviation for the word ‘Christmas’ (just as ‘Xian’ is also sometimes used as abbreviation of the word ‘Christian’).
But you know what? Even though the abbreviation may not have been created specifically for the purpose of demeaning Christ, the fact that so many people believe it does should be enough for us to avoid any confrontations on the matter and simply not to use it. Are we that pressed for time that we can’t write out or type five extra letters?
My friend, John Mogen, founder and leader of the Mogen’s Heroes band, in which I played for about 15 years, feels so strongly about the Xmas thing that he wrote a song about it and insisted we play it during the holiday season no matter if we were working a bar or at a bar mitzvah . The lyrics include these lines: “The next time you forget what we’re celebratin’ give the son of God a higher ratin’. God never had a son whose name was X.” I used to cringe a little each time he’d call up that song even if there was a dance floor full of people who were expecting Crocodile Rock or another Elvis tune. But, it never bothered him. In fact it’s still in his repertoire every Xma…er, I mean, “Christmas” season. And I say good on ya John.
I finally pulled myself away from the computer the other day long enough to string up a few Christmas lights on our decks; a far cry from when I used to risk life and limb standing high on a flimsy ladder trying to hang icicle lights around the edge of our entire roof only to have strands of them burn out or flop up on top of the roof every time the wind blew. One year I was doing my delicate balancing act on the top rung when I leaned back a bit too far and suddenly the aluminum ladder gave way. I remember seeing visions of dead relatives reaching out to me from heaven as I cascaded in slow motion to the concrete. But for some reason, it wasn’t my time and the bulky KELOLAND parka I was wearing cushioned the blow. In fact, instead of slamming hard into the cement, I sort of rolled like a circus acrobat dismounting from the top of a human pyramid. I stood up and was absolutely fine. At least that’s what I told the fella who got out of his car and came running to my aid after witnessing such a big guy taking such a perilous plunge. Anyway, Linda would rather I stick to decorating at ground level from now on.
We don’t go all out on Christmas decorations IN the house anymore either. Linda brings out some of the usual stuff for the tables and kitchen counters plus she does a spiffy job on the big window in our family room..but that’s about it.
For us, like a lot of you, I’ll bet, the joy of the season is the anticipation and eventual arrival home of all our kids and grandchildren so that we can celebrate together the anticipation and arrival of God’s son.
You know, an occasion as special as that certainly deserves a few more lights. I have a strand or two left that would go perfect above the garage. Now, were did I put that ladder?