Here are some questions that make for an interesting yuletide debate – if you’re thrilled by the idea of cozying up by the fireplace with a worthy opponent for an argument so heated you can turn the gas logs way down. (I can’t imagine that scenario exciting many people, but who am I to tell anyone how to enjoy Christmas?)
- Did the first Christmas happen in December, or at some other time of year?
- Was the Nativity in fact a miraculous “virgin birth”?
- How many wise men visited Jesus?
- Do Christians embrace too much secular culture in their celebration of Advent?
If you want to stand around with a glass of eggnog in one hand and use the other to make forceful gestures, there you have some good topics to get you started debating. But if you care to ponder a more unusual and less divisive subject, here’s a question that has the classic “yes and no” answer:
Did the first Christmas come as a surprise, or not?
Was the birth of Messiah a surprise to the nation Israel, whose prophets and faithful had foretold the event and had prayed for it, for so long? Was it a surprise to Mary? To Joseph? How about the prophetess Anna, and Simeon, both of whom recognized God in the flesh when they saw Him? Were the shepherds surprised? I’d land on the “yes” side, there. How about King Herod? So many angles! So many possible answers.
With years of Christmas observances gone by, how should we pray for Christmas 2015 to “surprise” us? Do you have a Christmas memory that involves a good surprise? A bad one? I invite you to click on “Comment” and share your thoughts.
Speaking of surprise, this week I bought some of the cutest Christmas surprise gifts for my family at a shop that may be one of Birmingham’s best-kept secrets. It’s Prime Time Treasures in the Assistance League building at 1775 Oxmoor Road. Besides wooden bird houses, nice pottery pieces, eye-catching tree ornaments, and all kinds of Bama and Auburn items, this gift shop has the mother lode of knitted & crocheted baby sweaters, booties, hats, and blankets. Similar stuff for larger people, too. Do you like unique and colorful washcloths?? Get over there!
I would give you more specifics, but I don’t want my family reading this and figuring out what’s going to be in their stockings. I can say this much: the place is like Wrapsody crossed with Christmas Village. Pull in the side entrance on Roxbury Road and get your wallet out. Just remember, the shop is closed on Mondays.
Also on the topic of surprises and not spoiling surprises, I want to talk more about my forthcoming first novel, Bend in the High Road – but without spoiling anything for readers. I’m even holding back reliving the story myself, because I’m afraid if I read the manuscript too much, I will end up changing things that are just right the way they are.
So, as I wait (and wait and wait) for a good word on publication prospects, I’m working on a second novel using the plot and characters of the first one as a springboard. When my holiday knitting frenzy dies down, I expect to enter a serious writing phase in 2016, and I do ask for your prayers. Fiction is a really amazing vehicle, and I’ve barely scratched the surface of what I hope lies ahead for me in that field.
In my next article, I’ll tell you what Bible verse I have placed behind the title page of my novel, and why, and how that is connected with a paper chain I plan to make for our Christmas tree – if we can find the time and the energy to get our tree up and decorated this Saturday!