A Weekly Column
By Joseph Walker


I’ve been looking for Christmas.

What?  You didn’t know it was missing?

Well, it has been – for 12 months or so.

I’ve been looking for it ever since Halloween, when the first Christmas decorations began decking the halls . . . er, aisles at local shops and stores.  Merchants put out the Christmas candy and the Christmas cards.  They stacked the shelves with lights and tinsel and stuffed bears that sit in a rocking chair and sing “Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer” when you push a button.  I like Christmas decorations, even in late October, and I’ve been wandering up and down the seasonal aisles every week for nearly two months.  I found some good stuff, but I didn’t find Christmas.  Evidently Christmas isn’t in the decorations.

So I started looking for Christmas on the radio.  Two local radio stations have been trying to out-Christmas each other with holiday music non-stop since Valentine’s Day.  OK, that’s a slight exaggeration. But not by much.  They’ve been playing Christmas music for a long time, and to be honest I’ve actually been enjoying it this year.  There’s nothing quite like hearing Nat King Cole sing “The Christmas Song,” or Karen Carpenter sing “Merry Christmas, Darling.”  This is good stuff, and I fully expected to find Christmas as I sang along with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir on “Joy to the World.” I love doing that.  It makes me feel . . . I don’t know . . . joyful.  But it didn’t help me find Christmas, because Christmas isn’t in the music.

Which means it must be at the mall.  At least, that’s what I figured as I drove to one of my favorite shopping Meccas to do my Christmas shopping (“my Christmas shopping” means shopping for Anita – “Anita’s Christmas shopping” means shopping for me, our five children and four-going-on-five grandchildren, her parents, our collective brothers and sisters, our friends and pretty much everyone else. This is what as known as “balance” in our relationship).

I knew exactly what I wanted to get, and the store had plenty of what I was looking for.  My shopping was quick and painless – as long as you don’t count the “Favorite Things” incident (whenever I hear “My Favorite Things” by Barbra Streisand over the mall Muzak machine I have to stop whoever is closest to me to complain that that really isn’t a Christmas song and I don’t know why they keep playing it with the other Christmas music.  For some reason the person I complained to sort of complained to mall security about me.  Go figure).

I found Anita’s present at the mall.  And I found a new friend (evidently the whole “My Favorite Things” thing bugs mall security, too).

But I didn’t find Christmas, because Christmas isn’t at the mall.

Then the other day I was thumbing through my Bible.  I paused in the second chapter of Luke in the New Testament: “And it came to pass in those days that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus, that all the world should be taxed . . . And Joseph also went . . . unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem . . . To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child . . . And she brought forth her first-born son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger . . .”

I flipped through a few more pages and read about this same miraculous child as a remarkable man, and the extraordinary things that happened to him in a place called Gethsemane.  And on a hill called Golgotha.  And in a stunningly empty garden tomb.

And suddenly, there it was: Christmas. It wasn’t in the decorations.  It wasn’t in the music.  And it wasn’t at the mall.  It was in a few simple, familiar words laden with meaning.  But somehow those words and the powerful reality of their message made the decorations seem more beautiful, the music more lovely and the mall less . . . you know . . mall-ish.

I guess that’s what happens when you find Christmas.  It finds YOU.

And it makes everything . . . you know . . . better.

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— © Joseph Walker

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Christmas on Mill Street” - An All New Holiday Novel!

Look What Love Has Done:  Five-Minute Messages to Lift Your Spirit. 

"How Can You Mend a Broken Spleen?  Home Remedies for an Ailing World."