No One Knows
From Christmas Day, 2010
A lovely day. Five inches of snow. Kids wide-eyed with wonder. Their chins on the window sill, smudging up the glass. We light the candles on the wreath and sing "Happy Birthday" to Jesus. They rip into presents, hug us, and say "thank you." I hold my baby and we observe all the activity with full moon eyes. We do not start the car this day. Time matters to no one because we have nowhere to be but here.
Wearied by joy, the kids fall asleep quickly tonight. Dozing in warm corners, bunked tightly. I go for a walk in the cold. I can tell by the tracks that exactly 6 people have walked the sidewalk in the last two days. I'm the street's lone wanderer. I like these nights. The snow affects everyone, driving them behind warm walls.
Christmas Day, more than any other day, affects every citizen in the most powerful country in the world. Jew, Muslim, Christian, and atheist. Even those who work on this holiday have their day altered. No one is unaffected - from the president to the plumber.
Jesus' birthday has all our attention, but no one notices. Everyone observes a holiday and most don't know why. Many attend a service and never get beyond the fine music. The rituals that once pointed to Christ are diluted to motions with mixed meaning.
The whole world stops, but few see. The empire slows, but in vain sentiment. And the Christ Child again slips beyond recognition. A Caesar or a President. Rome or Washington, D.C. A census or a national holiday. It matters not. The child is hidden. No one sees him. They're all looking in the wrong place.
All in all, a lovely day . . .
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