By Helena Rodriguez: Local columnist
Seeing “The Nativity” movie this busy holiday season really helps put this whole Christmas thing into perspective. The greatest story every told didn’t happen in a Hallmark card setting. There was cow poop and all.
My daughter Laura and I went to see “The Nativity” last weekend and I felt tears coming down my face in the dark as my thoughts turned to the “reason for the season.” I don’t say this in a cliché sort of way, either. I found myself truly longing for the simplicity that surrounded this great historical event.
When I moved back to Portales from Abilene, Texas, four years ago, my intent was to simplify my life. Lately, my life has become anything but that.
Before the movie, we loaded up on our ritualistic soda and popcorn, but as I sat there watching Joseph and Mary’s tiring trek to Bethlehem, it just didn’t feel right snacking on these buttery kernels and gulping down soda.
I thought about all of the Christmas sales inserts and commercials I’ve been seeing lately and wondered why none of them advertise nativity scenes, and I’m not talking about the nice, slick porcelain sets either.
It’s comforting to know that many stores have done away with their controversial, generic “Happy Holidays” slogans of last year and have brought “Christmas” back into their stores. However, other than the shiny “Merry Christmas” signs, there’s still no “Christ” in Christmas.
A more accurate term would be “Giftmas” because the whole focus is on a selfish mentality designed to make you feel obligated to buy your loved ones material goods they do not need while conveniently helping these department stores increase their bottom line.
Is this the reason for the season? I don’t think so!
I hear parents talking about what they’re getting their children for Christmas: iPods, Playstations, DVD players, cell phones, you name it. How about giving your children a review, or what I call a “Christmas for Dummies” crash course? Better yet, take them to see “The Nativity” … and skip the popcorn and Coke.
As I watched “The Nativity” story being re-enacted on the big screen, it suddenly occurred to me that simplicity also requires work. I’ve gotten all caught up in the commercial holiday madness, as well as with my job and with my upcoming graduation, and I find myself just wanting to escape. I long for a day in which I have nothing on my to-do list, and yet I realized that even in their simplistic lifestyles, there was work to be done for Joseph and Mary.
They had a lot of preparations to make for the world’s first Christmas. The only difference being that they were not driven by selfish motives of trying to impress their families and outdo their neighbors and friends with decorations, gifts and parties.
Joseph’s and Mary’s sole purpose was to obey God and fulfill their duties, and they did so humbly. They weren’t seeking the approval of others nor did they insist on four-star hotel accomodations that one would expect for a king.
Yes, they had real questions and concerns from the beginning: Joseph was unsure about marrying Mary, given her condition, and Mary questioned her own worthiness. Nevertheless, they accepted these assignments, and carried them out without an itinerary.
The three wise men also accepted their duties, wandering for weeks through the desert, carrying precious gifts, and following a star, only to be led to a stable, and not even a traditional wooden one, but a modest rock covering in an open field. Yet these wise men did not complain.
While Herod nervously kept a lookout for a royal court armed to overthrow him, an infant dressed in swaddling clothing laid in a manger. Such a simple setting for such an elaborate plan.
Keep it simple this Christmas, and keep it real. While simplicity does require work, it’s also followed by a true joy and peace that you can’t find in any store-bought gift.
Helena Rodriguez is a columnist for Freedom Newspapers of New Mexico. She can be reached at: