Many years ago, before I met my husband of 35 years, I dated a young man from India. One Saturday evening a few days before Christmas, my Indian friend and I had dinner at a Chinese restaurant. As we paid the bill at the register of the establishment, my friend who was Muslim wished the proprietor who was Buddhist, a Merry Christmas. This was at a time in US cultural history when, Christians vocally objected to secular society buying each other X-mas presents. It was a time when people used what today would be considered “politically incorrect” words as a matter of course. It was a time when I was slightly bemused, but inwardly warmed by a Muslim and a Buddhist wishing each other a Merry Christmas.
Today, nearly fifty years later, even Christians, out of respect for diversity or intimidation by neo-pagans, around December 25th, consistently wish those whom they encounter a Happy Holiday. Holiday songs featuring white snow or reindeer fill the airways; television holiday specials romanticize family gatherings in houses decked with bright lights and glitter wrapped packages sans Nativity sets. Old black and white movies are the only places where whole communities attend church on Christmas eve.
However, last night I attended a classical music concert billed only by it’s December date. When I opened the program, tears formed in the back of my eyes. The first work on the program was Gloria, RV 589 by Antonio Vivaldi. The first work of the second half was The Many Moods of Christmas by Robert Shaw. The final work was “Holy Night of Angels” arranged by Gary Fry. The orchestra was one of the two best youth orchestras in the country; the choir was a Master Chorale of retirees. The music they made was heart-felt, modulated passion!
At the end of the program, the audience of people from many different backgrounds and cultures, leapt to its feet. Here, at last, in a secular setting, was an appreciation of the beauty of Christian traditional Christmas music, and by that, a tacit appreciation of Christian values. This concert gave me that extra push I needed to yell in super market lines and in crowded elevators, “Merry Christmas, everybody!”
I feel like a rebel. And, it feels good!