Monday, December 16, 2019

Short story – “In the Spirit”

“In the Spirit”

Joseph Warner mentally checked off relatives with gifts as he walked along the sidewalk.  Occasionally he would glance at the holiday decorations the stores and businesses had put up, but mostly he ignored them and focused on not stepping on the occasional ice patches. 

His path back to his dorm passed the courthouse, and as he approached it he heard a ringing bell and people talking rather loudly.  His curiosity piqued, he stopped and saw a group of two women and a man standing around the tree the city had put up.  One woman held a sign reading, “It’s a CHRISTMAS tree,” while the sign the man held read, “Put CHRIST back in Christmas.” The other woman was ringing the bell and reading from the Bible.

Looking around, Joseph saw that the other pedestrians would glance at the group then hurry on.  Joseph followed their lead.

About ten minutes later, he reached his dorm room and piled the gifts on his bed.  There was a paper he needed to write, and tests to study for, but there was something else he felt he needed to do.  He grabbed his Bible from the bookshelf and headed back to the courthouse.

He walked towards the group and stopped about ten feet from them.  He opened his Bible and pretended to be reading, flipping through pages.

The woman with the Bible paused her reading and asked him, “Would you care to join us?”

“No.” After a couple more flipped pages Joseph asked, “I’m just trying to find the deep spiritual meaning a Christmas tree has for Christians.  Perhaps you can point out the verse that reads, ‘Thou shalt have a Christmas Tree.’”

The woman stopped ringing the bell and a cold gleam came to her eyes.  She said, “We are trying to save Christmas from the secularists who are trying to destroy this country; those who want to call this,” she pointed to the tree behind her, “a holiday tree.”

After a slight pause Joseph said, “So, when you die and go to heaven you’ll meet with all these early Christian martyrs who were fed to lions who will ask, ‘What have you done for the faith,’ and you’ll reply, ‘We made sure people didn’t call a Christmas tree a Holiday tree.’ At which point they’ll slap their foreheads and say, ‘Why didn’t we think of that?’”

The bell ringer took a step forward.  “This is a serious matter that-”

“No it isn’t,” Joseph interrupted.  Pointing over his shoulder he said, “There are people starving out there.  There are people being shot because their religion, or the way they practice their religion is wrong, at least according to the people with the guns.  And you are here arguing over what people call a tree.  This is not serious, it’s ludicrous.”

With her Bible the reader pointed at Joseph.  “We are trying to save the traditional Christmas from those who wish to destroy it.”

“Was there a Christmas tree at the first Christmas?”

Without indicating she heard Joseph, the reader went on.  “By renaming this, the secularists are trying to dilute the values of the traditional Christmas.”

“Christmas Trees have been around for about two hundred years.  How can they be so vital to a two thousand year old religion?  There was no Christmas tree at the first Christmas.  I mean, how much more traditional can you get?  If Jesus didn’t need one, why do you?”


I first wrote this story back in the heady “War on Christmas” days.  I was going through my stories recently, and I figured this one needed to see the light of day again.

Part of the origin of this was an episode of My Hero, a British comedy about an alien superhero living on Earth.  In one episode he goes to his girlfriend’s and is worried there’s some alien invasion because people are putting fir trees up in their homes.  She tries to explain how it’s all for the birthday of Jesus, and he asks if fir trees were important to Jesus and she replies with something like, “I don’t think he ever saw one.” He then says something along the lines of, “That’s an odd way to celebrate his birthday.”  Which is true.  Not that that matters to some people.

This story was previous published in November 2006 on a friend’s website.  The original version is still up, but I revised it a bit for this posting.

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