“I’m Dreaming of a Simple Christmas”

Did you hear about the woman out in California who used pepper spray on other shoppers at Wal-Mart on Thanksgiving night?

Initial news reports said that the attack took place around 10:20 pm.  Employees had brought out a crate of discounted Xbox video game players.  A crowd had formed while waiting for the crate to be unwrapped.  According to police reports, a woman began spraying people around her “in order to get an advantage.”  About 20 people were injured and treated at the scene.  Nothing serious but being sprayed is a painful experience.

In the confusion, the woman got away.  It was uncertain whether she got her Xbox.  Police said she could face felony charges if she were found.

As it turned out, the woman was not charged with a crime at all.  Police say she may have been acting in self-defense.  She turned herself into police who interviewed witnesses and watched surveillance and YouTube video.  They concluded that she may have feared for her life, afraid of being trampled by other shoppers.

I am not sure which scenario disturbs me more.  Spraying offensively or defensively.  Mad rush.  Ruthlessness.  Fear.  Desperation. All for a video game system.

Now, I am not trying to be a humbug.  I’m not trying to say we have lost the meaning of Christmas or that our society has become too materialistic.  Those are all givens.  Christmas is what it is…or what it has become.

In fact, I think we should join in the fun.  Give gifts. Watch our kids’ reactions.  Cannot wait to spoil future grandchildren. Celebrate.  Christmas is about celebration.

But something about the pepper spray story still annoys.  Is it possible to celebrate without the extremes or excess? But then is that second-class celebrating?  Can we do a little less? Should we do a little less?  What message should Christ-followers show and teach and tell at Christmas?

Certainly, not that we want to spoil the fun.  Certainly not that Christmas needs to be somber.  I like celebrating.  But still, something nags at my emotions.  How can we be different?

Let’s wrestle with this on Sunday..

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