Jackson County Opinions...

December 20, 2000

By Mark Beardsley
The Commerce News
December 20, 2000

Getting All Wrapped Up In Christmas
I like Christmas, but I'd like it a lot more if it didn't involve wrapping gifts.
When it comes to gift wrapping, I am handicapped. Barbara could wrap a toilet plunger and make it look attractive, but any attempt I make to gift wrap the simplest box looks like it was done by a committee of kindergartners.
This is generally not a problem, since Barbara does all of the gift buying and wrapping for the family. Still, I have to wrap the gifts I buy her; it is a part of Christmas I abhor.
It seems to me that most women are adept at wrapping things, and most men aren't, so I suspect that there is a gene particular to gender that enables females to wrap things eloquently. Perhaps it's the same gene that determines one's appreciation of shopping as a sport.
I had to wrap a couple of things last Wednesday, so I assembled the gifts, wrapping paper, ribbon, etc. on the living room floor and made a valiant effort.
I can never get a piece of wrapping paper the right size. Either it's too big and the edges all poof up when I attempt a fold, or it's too small and you can see the box through the gap.
Nothing erodes the Christmas spirit quicker than trying to get brightly colored paper to fold neatly. My first package, in a nice box, looks like a delivery from the Unabomber.
I decided it needed a silver ribbon, but the only silver ribbon we had was in a tangled mass similar to what happens to fishing line when you cast a light spinnerbait into a strong wind. I tried to pick it out, but finally realized that's the way the ribbon was designed to go on the gift. A backlash bow, you might say.
The second gift came in a bottle. Square packages are bad enough, but wrapping something with no corners is impossible. When I finished, it reminded me of a tightly folded and taped used disposable diaper tossed out in parking lots. Not attractive.
For my third gift, I had to find a box. Barbara saves every gift box, but when I went to that box treasure trove in the attic, I could find only one, and it was smashed flat on one end and nibbled upon by mice. I resuscitated it as best I could, measured once and cut three times, but in the end, thanks to massive amounts of tape, it was my best effort.
Ribbons are a pain. No matter how I tie one, the final result resembles something lashed down to the luggage rack of an SUV.
Bows, on the other hand, are easy; you just stick one on. But by the time I've put on paper and ribbon, the factory-perfect bow is as out of place as the Three Tenors at a hobo convention, so I generally avoid them.
Steven appears to have the same genetic wrapping deficiency as me. In fact, he has even turned to me for assistance, which is like asking Peewee Herman for advice on manliness.
For years, I've sought the kind of gift boxes used on TV. The person receives a bright, attractive box and, lo, just lifts the lid to see what's inside. No wrapping, no ribbons to be tied or cut, and the box could be reused. They don't really exist.
At least no one needs a card to tell who my gifts are from. The duct tape says it all

The Jackson Herald
December 20, 2000

One solitary life
An Annual Christmas Message From The Jackson Herald.
The imagery of the Christ Child being born in a stable beneath a bright star surrounded by both learned Wise Men and humble shepherds is one of the most powerful pictures in human history. Humble by birth, He became a shepherd of men, a king of kings and the light of humankind.
Yet, for all His impact on this world, little is known about the man we call Jesus. Relative to others of his era, his known words are few. And virtually nothing is known of His childhood after the birth in Bethlehem.
Many of Jesus' parables revolve around the common things He observed, and it isn't too much to imagine that those well-known stories may have come from the things he saw as a child, say scholars who wish to study the area.
Perhaps it is by design that we know so little about His childhood. But what we know of His later life was destined to change the world.
One unknown writer said it best:
He was born in an obscure village.
He worked in a carpenter shop until he was 30.
He then became an itinerant preacher.
He never held an office.
He never had a family or owned a house.
He didn't go to college.
He had no credentials but himself.
He was only 33 when the public turned against him.
His friends ran away.
He was turned over to enemies and went through the mockery of a trial.
He was nailed to a cross between two thieves.
While he was dying, his executioners gambled for his clothing, the only property he had on earth.
He was laid in a borrowed grave.
Nineteen centuries have come and gone, and today he is the central figure of the human race.
All the armies that ever marched, all the navies that ever sailed, all the parliaments that ever sat, and all the kings that ever reigned have not affected the life of man of this earth as much as that One Solitary Life.

Jackson County Opinion Index

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By Mike Buffington
The Jackson Herald
December 20, 2000

The first gift of Christmas was a child
There are several hundred smiling faces in this week's newspaper, faces which mute the cynics and renew the faithless.
Each Christmas, our newspapers collect hundreds of photos of area children and compile them in a special section. It is a Christmas card to our readers signed by the hundreds in whose hands rest all of our dreams.
Where but in the eyes of a child can you see both the past - little Tommy has granddad's eyes, sister Suzie has her mother's hair - and the future - Blake wants to be a fireman, Jane a doctor.
Tomorrow is a memory of today by the children, youngsters whose innocence is our joy, whose faces light up our homes and whose wonder keeps tradition alive.
Many cultures believe that it is the old who keep traditions, who pass down the wisdom of years and the touchstones of life. But it is the young who are the torchbearers. Without a new generation to teach, traditions mean very little.
It is that faith in the future and our collective desire to pass the cultural torch which makes Christmas a special season. It is a season of faith, not only of religion, but also in our humanity. Even with the kitsch and commercialism being blared around us, the fundamental desire for "peace on earth, good will to men" rings through. Our social conventions may sometimes be shallow, but somehow generation after generation will touch the core of the Christmas spirit and be renewed.
For some, it is a season of mixed emotions. Amid all the gaiety, there are the memories of friends and family who are gone. The music, the smell of a Christmas tree and the annual nesting of families bring back the bittersweet thoughts.
For others, it will be the last Christmas together. There are those who face the inevitable end and even having lived a good and long life is little consolation to the families who will miss them.
But in the faces of their offspring, of the great-grandchildren who laugh and play around them, is the faith that pulls life forward. Without the laughter of children, there would be an emptiness in their wake.
And so, the torch is passed and the traditions continue, someday to be in the hands of those who now play around the Christmas tree and peek up the chimney.
The past and the future come together at Christmas - the memories of our own childhoods mixed with the new memories now being formed by our children. They will someday look back at this special time and smile just as we do at our own childhood memories.
And someday our children's children will tug at the Christmas tree ornaments and be amazed by the shimmering Christmas lights along city streets.
They will sing in church plays and perform in school concerts.
They will sit on Santa's knee and promise to be good so they can get that new bike.
They will look at the nativity set and rearrange the pieces, always making a special place for the Baby Jesus.
They will want to see the tape of Rudolph until they know every line by heart.
They will ask 1,000 questions about the sleigh and reindeer.
They will leave milk and cookies because Santa's sure to be hungry.
They will check the stockings every day, just in case.
They will eat too much candy and be happy about it.
They will hope.
They will dream.
And they, too, will someday know that the first gift of Christmas was a child.
Mike Buffington is editor of The Jackson Herald. This is a reprint of of his favorite Christmas column.

The Commerce News
December 20, 2000

The Message Of Christ Permeates Christmas
It is tempting to say that the celebration of Christmas has outgrown Christianity ­ that is, that even people who make no claim to be Christians observe the holiday. In spite of all the secular songs, characters and celebration, Christmas remains a holy day.
It is holy to Christians because it is the celebration of their god's decision to send his son into this world to bring it salvation. That son, Jesus Christ, is the foundation for the entire religion, and Christmas is second only to Easter among holy days for Christians.
Culture has added a lot to the celebration of this sacred event, from Santa Claus to colored lights and from Christmas trees to watching "It's a Wonderful Life." An event that got its origin with the birth of the God-child to a poor, young Jewish girl has evolved into an event that includes both serious religious observations and massive consumer spending. Music of the season runs from "Silent Night" to "Grandma Got Run Over By A Reindeer," from "O Little Town of Bethlehem" to "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer." Yet through the evolution of it all, take away the birth of Christ and there is no celebration.
Christmas forces the Christian to confront his savior. It compels the Christian to remember the nature of his God, an all-powerful, all-knowing entity whose love for mankind is infinite. The act of love that sent Christ to earth is at Christmas reflected in untold ways, from the corporate collection to provide food and gifts to the needy to the simple donation to the Salvation Army at the mall. People respond with kindness and generosity in response to the celebration of the birth of Christ.
The fact that the celebration is enjoyed by millions of non-Christians is itself a witness to the birth of Christ. Every person who sees and participates in a Christmas celebration is forced to look beyond the secular portions of the event and to contemplate the real reason the holiday is special for millions of people. It is impossible to have a purely secular Christmas. It is impossible to go through this season in this largely Christian country without acknowledging that Christmas is the celebration of the birth of Christ.
That birth is the springboard of hope that all Christians have, hope made real by the events they commemorate at Easter. The death, burial and resurrection of Christ, the fulfilling of scriptures about the messiah sent by God, are the essence of Christianity. Christmas marks the beginning, Easter the fulfillment.
These two days give Christians confidence that God is with them, that they will be with God, and that nothing that happens on this earth is beyond God's love and influence. For Christians who contemplate these things, it is hard not to have a merry Christmas. May yours be the best ever.

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