Interesting phenomenon today. My husband Warren and I were doctoring in a nearby town and decided to stop at one of the major retailers before heading home. While Warren browsed through pipe insulation for our rental (boring!), I slipped away to entertain myself in the Christmas section.
I looked and looked and looked for anything that had ANYTHING to do with the birth of Christ. The aisles were replete with angels … but angels are pretty benign. I continued looking and finally came across a palm-sized snow globe of the Three Wise Men. I looked a little further and found “two” pitifully pathetic plastic nativity scenes obscurely placed in the midst of pinecones and peppermint sticks.
So I moseyed on over to the wrapping paper, consoling myself … Surely there is something of Christ in this bin! Even if it’s paper with words like “O Holy Night,” or “Noel.” Is that too much to ask?
Apparently it was, because I found … nada … zippo.
All I found were snowmen, Santas, holly, and pretty plaid patterns in bright Christmas colors.
My heart was heavy.
Christmas in America surely isn’t what it was when I was growing up, I silently mused, swallowing the lump in my throat and blinking away the tears.
Just then, Warren walked by and said he was on his way to the checkout. I told him to go ahead … that I needed to talk to the manager (explaining to my husband what I had just seen [rather, had not seen] in the Christmas section of the store. He smiled and gave me an encouraging nod with a twinkle in his eye that seemed to say, “Of course, you do!”
I prayed for a quiet and gentle spirit, knowing the people I would be talking to were clerks and not CEOs.
I patiently stood in the customer service line; and, when it was my turn, I stepped up to the counter and politely asked to speak to the manager.
“May I ask what this is about?” the employee inquired.
“Yes,” I replied, “I’m just wondering why I can’t find any items in this store related to Jesus’ birth, since He is the reason we are celebrating Christmas.”
“Okay,” she hesitated. “He’s in the back. You may have to wait awhile. Do you want to have a seat?”
“Sure,” I nodded, walking through the gate and sitting down on the wooden bench.
Eventually, the manager of the Christmas department came and we had a friendly chat. He seemed apologetic and explained that corporate simply wanted to be “cautious” and “not offend.”
I took a deep breath, gently and lovingly replying, “Well, that’s interesting, because, as a follower of Jesus, I feel offended that corporate has eradicated all traces of Him during this season that is celebrated because of Him.”
Then this kind, unsuspecting man made the mistake of mentioning the “r” word in an attempt to commiserate with me.
Poor guy had no idea where that was going to take the conversation.
He said, “I know. It’s not fair to the ‘religious’ people…”
I proceeded to gently explain to him that I was not “religious,” but that I was in a relationship with Jesus Christ – that He was my friend, my God, and my Savior.
I could tell that he didn’t “get it” and I desperately wanted to share the Good News of Christmas with him; but I sensed he was busy and wanted to get back to business, so I thanked him for his time as he turned to leave.
Did my conversation with him change anything? No.
But I wonder what would happen if we as followers of Jesus would speak up about what we are seeing (or not seeing) in retail establishments.
I wonder what would happen if every believer graciously and kindly questioned every manager when there is little to no trace of our Savior in their stores at Christmastime.
(I guarantee the concern will at least be mentioned in the weekly staff meetings!)
I wonder what would happen if every store manager reported to corporate office the numbers of people who were requesting Christ-centered items to be available for purchase …so they didn’t have to go to “another store” to shop for Christmas.
Hmmm …. I just wonder.