Monday, December 12, 2011

A Christmas turtle?

With only thirteen days to Christmas it is hard to ignore the festive occasion. For many, it will be a time of hardship and for others it will be an opportunity to reach out a helping hand.

For some it will be an empty table while others will serve at feasts for the hungry.

For some it will be huddling by a small flame for warmth, while others will spread warmth with their gifts of jackets and blankets.

For the Obama’s it will be a time of celebration in the warmer climes of Hawaii, while back at home the White House, although absent the royalty, will be decked with all the trinkets and beauty, color and light, of celebration.

As the first lady says:

"I know for some of you, this holiday season will be tough, but hopefully, it's times like this that make you know that you live in a grateful nation, and that we are just so inspired by your sacrifice. And hopefully, this is a memory that will stay with you every holiday season."

O Christmas tree, O Christmas tree!
Thou tree most fair and lovely!
Oh Christmas tree, O Christmas tree!
Thou tree most fair and lovely!
The sight of thee at Christmastide
Spreads hope and gladness far and wide
Oh Christmas tree, O Christmas tree
Thou tree most fair and lovely!

It seems that the Obama’s, in a nod to the difficulties many are facing this Christmas season, and in deference to the many who cannot afford a tree, nor the decorations that enhance its beauty,…

"We have 37 Christmas trees here at the White House--37!" Michelle Obama excitedly told a recent group of visitors. "That's a lot, right? Yes, that's a lot of trees. And we also have a 400-pound White House gingerbread house."

A 400 pound gingerbread house? Wow! Those hips are getting wider even as she starts thinking about such a feast!

Anyway…37 Christmas trees!!

It seems that over 100 people were flown in from all over the country just to erect the trees and decorations.

It is so heartwarming to see the First Lady identify with the unfortunates so well. It would never have occurred to her that an austere Christmas would be seen as being in solidarity with the unfortunate.

Oh wait…she does think that way…after all, the mere fact that the white house has sooooo many beautiful trees must make everyone so thankful for living in such a great nation…a nation where 37 trees are used JUST in the Whitehouse…and the royalty will not even be there for Christmas. What a wonderful country America is!!

O Christmas tree, O Christmas tree!
Thou hast a wondrous message:
O Christmas tree, O Christmas tree!
Thou hast a wondrous message:
Thou dost proclaim the Saviour's birth
Good will to men and peace on earth
O Christmas tree, O Christmas tree!
Thou hast a wondrous message

Do you think the Obama’s even understand the message? Maybe since they have 37 trees, they may start to understand….but somehow I think that is a real stretch of the imagination.

O Christmas tree, O Christmas tree!
You stand in verdant beauty
O Christmas tree, O Christmas tree!
You stand in verdant beauty
Your boughs are green in summer's glow
And do not fade in winter's snow
O Christmas tree, O Christmas tree!
You stand in verdant beauty

When I was younger I always thought that this verse actually refers to the spirit of man when filled with the hope that God provided through the savior’s birth. That spirit that stayed strong in the wonderful times of summer and even stronger when the troubles of winter threatened to defeat mankind’s future.

But it seems I was wrong…the Obama king that offered hope is now revered as the savior…and this is confirmed clearly by the presence of 37 Christmas trees in his home. Oh how the green boughs of summer have turned to the brown boughs in this winter of discontent. Has the green bough of Obama’s hope simply faded to despair? No amount of gaudily decorated Christmas trees in the White House can cover up the stench of decay that emanates from this man’s leadership.

Not even 37 freshly cut trees can mask the odorous and unseemly stench of unrealized hope.

But do not spare a tear for the purveyor of false hope. He has his trees and his decorations…and his warm vacation in Hawaii to provide his succor.

And I am sure he will not waste a moment in contemplative reflection of the poor souls standing in meal lines, or huddling around empty tables shivering in the glow of the small candle providing their only light. He will not be troubled by those whose children will sing carols while hoping that THIS year Santa can visit them, but knowing that once again, Santa will pass them by. His Christmas dinner will not be disturbed by the cries of hungry babies at the barren breasts of starving mothers.

O Christmas tree, O Christmas tree!
How laden are your branches
O Christmas tree, O Christmas tree!
Your presence here enhances
Your silver star does glisten bright
Reflecting all the candlelight
O Christmas tree, O Christmas tree!
How laden are your branches

The Christmas trees in the White House may be heavily laden…but many folks in this country will be celebrating Christmas in a far more austere way. They will be focused on the real meaning of Christmas, celebrating the day their savior was born…enjoying church,  singing carols and walking the streets viewing the finely and magically decorated homes before finally settling at home…wondering what it would be like to celebrate in such style.

Will these folk draw any comfort from the White House trees that they will never see? Will the White House decorations provide in them a sense of thankfulness that they live in such a great Nation?

O Christmas tree, O Christmas tree
You fill all hearts with gaiety
O Christmas tree, O Christmas tree
You fill all hearts with gaiety
On Christmas Day you stand so tall
Affording joy to one and all
O Christmas tree, O Christmas tree
You fill all hearts with gaiety

At least one group of people will be celebrating Christmas with gaiety this season. The abolition of “don’t ask don’t tell” will see many in the armed forces celebrating with gay abandon.

Could this be what this Christmas song is all about? Filling our hearts with gaiety?

To all my readers, wherever you may be, and however you are able to celebrate this Christmas season, please spare a thought for those less fortunate than you. Reach out and touch a stranger this year…for no other reason than that you are reflecting the love of God for your fellow man.

Give a gift of love to someone you don’t know, someone who can never repay it, someone who has a real need. Do it without fanfare, anonymously if possible. Tell no-one what you have done.

Every year my wife and I leave an envelope on our tree that we open on Christmas day. The envelope contains only the stories of a person or people in need who we have helped anonymously during the year. It serves to remind us that we are called to love our fellow man, and that such responsibilities do not just happen at Christmas…but Christmas is a special time that we have the opportunity to do more.

As I contemplate the 37 Christmas trees in the White House, I can’t help but wonder…..

“I’m Yertle the Turtle!
Oh, marvelous me!
For I am the ruler of
all that I see!”

“Your Majesty.
Please… I don’t like
to complain.
But down here
below, we are feeling
great pain.”

“And the turtles, of course…
All the turtles are free
As turtles and, maybe,
all creatures
should be.”

……Dr. Seuss, “Yurtle the Turtle”

Does the Yurtle in the White House really represent the average American? Do the values espoused by the President and First Lady match those that you have held as honorable for most of your life?

Do the Obama’s represent all that is right with the world…or all that shines and glistens but is nothing but an empty vessel?

Is the hope offered by this mere mortal any match for the hope offered by our true savior whom we celebrate every year at this time?

Is the wealth of this country best portrayed by 37 Christmas trees or by the adoring smiles on our children’s faces when they see a nativity scene (one that has miraculously avoided the rampaging efforts of atheist groups trying to destroy it).

Is the strength of our military due to its gaiety or due to its bravery?

Is the expectation of freedom dependent upon the decorations in the White House or upon the hearts of mankind and the indefatigable spirit engendered in them by our God?

Is Christmas exemplified by those with 37 trees or by those serving their fellow man?

All administrations decorate the White House for celebratory events. In this austere economic winter, would it have been more appropriate for the White House decorations to have been wound back, with emphasis placed on serving the poor rather than entertaining the wealthy?

I believe we live in an upside down world.

Do not let it turn your heart upside down.


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