On Saturday, I started out with a problem. Only one volunteer had agreed to help me greet the people coming to the craft show at the Methodist church. Thank God for good people like Josie Christopher! She came at 2 p.m. and I enjoyed myself until then. The shoppers were all in a good mood. And when the children walked out with their decorated gingerbread houses, they were all smiles! It was a wonderful experience!
On top of that, there were people manning the tables who came from various churches. I love to see that. My friend, Joan Lyons, who helped me coordinate our cook book, was there selling coffee, hot chocolate, tea and cookies. Coffee was $1 and the tea was only 75 cents. Just the night before, on television, I heard Starbucks is going to be selling a cup of coffee for $7! Are they crazy? I wouldn't pay $7 for a cup of coffee! Of course there are people who would just so they could say they paid that much. Oh well, everyone has his or her own tastes. My friends at Tim Hortons should profit from this!
One of the first customers who came Saturday was from Westfield. She came just to buy Italian cookies. She was all smiles. I was smiling, too. So many of the people who came commented on my column. Some said they enjoy the column, one said it's the first thing she looks for on Saturday mornings, and one said she and her husband fight over it. This is a bonus I got, but not everyone loves the column. I expect that. If I can reach some of the people some of the time, that's good. But last year I received a letter from a very dissatisfied reader. I kept it because it bothered me. Here was a woman who was hurting and I didn't know how to help her!
She wrote, who was I, an ordinary housewife, telling her how to live her life? She's right. I have no credentials, only experiences. Then she said she had attended a church whose minister's wife was dying of cancer while he was molesting young boys. She said she her grandfather and uncle were ministers and they had disappointed her, too. Then she attacked the Catholic priests and what they were doing to young boys. You see, she was very disillusioned and hurt. But let's look at what she said. Religious people had let her down, but had Jesus done anything wrong? No! We must remember that we are all mortals. We're all sinners. Hopefully, good Christians sin less, but we still sin! Let's put the blame where it belongs!
I hear this all the time when people are disappointed with the actions of so-called "good people." I hear, "And she/he calls herself/himself a Christian!" I cringe because Jesus is being blamed for the actions of others! It's not fair, when I think that He was rich, a king, and gave all of that up to be poor and humble! What's He trying to tell us? That pride is sinful. Humility brings joy. When we do something and we like the results we say "I'm proud of that." What we mean is we're happy with the outcome. Joy is good. It's so good it's in the Bible over a hundred times. I forget how many I counted, but you know how in school we were taught by repetition? Well, this tells us that Jesus wants us to be joyful. Probably, that's where the idea of Santa Claus came from.
This reminds me of what's been disturbing me lately. In general, I'm upset about the absence of the birth of Christ in our Christmas story. Even Hallmark Theatre has disappointed me. I'm so thankful I have that channel because I never have to hear a four-letter word on that channel! Have you noticed how nonchalantly boys and girls say those words? I cringe. Do you ever protest about that?
One year I was sleeping on the porch. This group of kids settled in front of Timepieces and flung a particular curse word around like crazy. I stood up and shouted, "If I hear that word one more time I'm calling the police!" They got quiet and then they left. They never came back. It pays to speak up.
Anyway, getting back to Hallmark, I've noticed almost all of their Christmas stories are about Santa. Although he brings out the best in people, he's not the reason for the season. So I've decided to write very positive columns this month. I'm going to talk about positive things (real Christian thoughts)!
Here's one for you. Have you ever wondered what "swaddling clothes" were? Here's the definition: swaddling clothes were pants of the high priests which could not be destroyed and were used as wicks in vats of oil during the Festival of Lights which was the expectation of the Messiah (Jesus is the light).
Now I'll tell you about gold, frankincense and myrrh. Gold is the gift of kings, frankincense is incense and is important to the high priest, and myrrh is anointment at death. All the years I used those words I never knew what they meant. Now that I know I want to pass it on to you. It's nice to share. Merry Christmas!
Margaret Valone is a Fredonia resident. Send comments on this column to email@example.com