My neighbors have their Christmas lights up.
I hate them.
Okay hate is too strong a word, so let’s say I loathe…
I am growing a slow irrational abhorrence towards them. And yet they are perfectly nice and lovely people (except when two weeks after we moved in they claimed our recycle trash can as theirs—but that’s another story).
My issue is, at the time of this writing, it’s well before Thanksgiving and they have strewn Christmas upon the neighborhood before it’s time. I’ve considered this flaunty and they are “those neighbors” that one-up the Jones. At night I lie in bed, the glow and mirth of twinkling gingerbread house lights burn through my tightly shut eyelids. Where is my leopard-print prima-donna sleepy-time eye cover when I need it? I bet they already have a Christmas tree in the home too. Bet they make their dog wear those reindeer antlers. Oh the shame!
By now you should wonder if I just hate people in general or Christmas. Well it’s neither. My problem is that I believe in following rules. While not litigious by any means, especially when it comes to “religion”, I do believe rules are the things that help us all get along.
Like traffic rules; ever been to somewhere—let’s say India—where traffic rules are nonexistent? Yeah, me either, but I’ve seen the emails and YouTube videos showing the hot mess on the streets because it lacks rules. Or how about watching a game of Pee-Wee baseball, where the rules are bent all over the place creating chaotic entertainment as big bobble helmet headed children run about with concussion wielding bats and mitts the size of their torso.
I used to live in a neighborhood that had HOA rules for everything. We couldn’t plant pine or palm trees, owners were cited when trash cans stayed street side beyond 24-hours after collection day. We couldn’t fly flags year round (Tibetans could have a legal field day over this) and Christmas lights could only be displayed on or after Thanksgiving and no longer than two weeks after Christmas. While the whole bit about tree specie mandating was overkill, I appreciated most all other rules that some found absurd.
The rules maintained order and harmony.
Fall is by far my favorite time of year. I embrace Halloween and Thanksgiving, they are due their fair share of holiday display allotment. I love the trees in their glorious showy colors. I’m soothed with the wind in my hair, fall debris crunching under foot, and the crisp air that bites my fading tan cheeks. And each year I get a little more bent with Christmas being pushed onto me before it’s proper time. Be it in the stores or in my neighbor’s front yard. Maybe I’m getting old (I am) and starting my decent into grouchy. Or maybe it isn’t just my imagination—maybe Christmas really is taking over the fall season. And there is little I can do about it, and little I can vent because Christians get the willies whenever anyone speaks against celebrating the holiday season of their Lord’s earthly birth. (Don’t even get me started with the fact that Jesus wasn’t born on December 25th—sigh, I’m getting old).
So my neighbors; what to do with their lack of respect for the fall season and Thanksgiving holiday.
I suppose this is when I’m to dig deep in my pockets for a scrap of lint coated grace and keep reminding God that I need the salve from Ezekiel applied to my rule filled blisters.
I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. Ezekiel 36:26
I hope this holiday season finds you with enough scraps of grace to keep reminding you that acting with a heart of flesh is the best way to embrace the spirit of the season. Even when Clark Griswold lives next door to you.
Keep digging for grace.