As Christmas doesn’t come from a store, maybe Christmas perhaps means a little bit more….
–Dr. Seuss, How The Grinch Stole Christmas
A few nights ago, I took a break from the holiday hustle and bustle by stopping in for a quick bite at the local Subway shop. Eat fresh. In and out. That was my plan. Then I would be on my way. That was just before this happened.
Have you ever walked into Subway and realized that you were just one person too late? I’m pretty sure my face kept smiling, but there were instantaneous secret daggers behind my smiling Christmas eyes when the man in front of me ordered three footlongs and looked back at me thinking we had some type of kindred sandwich spirit.
The man not only ordered three sandwiches, but he did it list-in-hand. Not a good sign. His need for special requests warranted a list?? I wished for some sort of Subway police that would blow a silver whistle and declare, “Hey, you! Buddy! If you’re gonna order three sandwiches they all have to be the same! What? Ya think you can have it your way??! Ludicrous.”
Patience. A fruit of the Spirit. I can do this. I’m halfway through enduring the construction of the three footlongs when Mr. Three Sandwiches Guy, loudly announces to the growing line of ravenous patrons, “Everyone, everyone! Don’t you think Jane is doing a great job building all of these sandwiches all by herself with no one to help her here on this front line? Jane, you didn’t even break one health code and you kept your calm with everything in a good linear working order.”
Mr. Three Sandwich Shy Guy begins to address the crowd again.
“Everyone, I would just like to personally commend Jane on the job she is doing. I have trained people like her in my profession throughout the greater Southeast and finding an employee like Jane is virtually impossible. Good job, Jane!”
Jane is steadily soaking in the compliments and building the footlongs.
I’m feeling as rotten as a stinky old piece of cheese sandwiched in the middle of two Subway line etiquette breakers when the girl behind me chimes in, “I wish you would come and tell this to my boss. I work at the convenience store next door and he is a real jerk!” Convenience Store Girl and Three Sandwiches Shy Guy have created the I Love Jane Club right before my eyes. I’m just here for the sandwich. And…I’m in a rush!
Realizing that I may be showing some signs of Grinchism, I decide to spur Jane to do good work and also tell her good job when just before the words can escape, Mr. Three Sandwiches Shy Guy takes over.
“Jane, you are just working too fast. Slow down. Take your time. Everyone, isn’t Jane doing a great job?!”
Instead of saying good job Jane out loud, I am now saying this in my head:
I will not say anything.
I will not say anything.
I will not say anything.
Just keep smiling.
You can do it.
The Grinch in me briefly considers that I may actually either be in the twilight zone or on candid camera when the worst fake Santa I’ve ever seen enters from the parking lot and I can hear him telling the boys and girls that they’d better be good so he can put something nice under their tree.
I wouldn’t be surprised at all to know that he had just tossed his half-smoked cigarette into the bushes and gestured to the kids some kind of souped up arm-fart that he has likely perfected since grade school.
I drifted off into the place of my deepest thoughts with the fee-fi-fo-fum of Mr. Three Sandwich Shy Guy still naming his vegetables one by one.
Bell peppers, Banana peppers, Jalapenos…..um, wait, no jalapenos. That was supposed to be on the new Sriracha chicken melt. Did you get that, Jane?
I wondered about so many things. Like how the central figure of Christmas has become an overly-nourished white guy with the same shiny curly hair in his beard and underneath his funny looking cap.
Not to dwell in further Grinchism, but what’s worse is that the self-proclaimed engineers of commercialized Christmas have officially indoctrinated some sort of false merit system of what Christmas is into the American fiber. You’d better be good for goodness sake! Bah Humbug!
Isn’t the whole point of Christmas the need of a savior for a people who cannot be good enough so the God of Heaven sends His One and Only Begotten Son in the form of the most innocent human baby to save the world? Right here in the middle of Subway while Three Sandwiches Shy Guy is still naming vegetables, I remembered God’s original intention of Christmas and how it has been clearly overlooked. We are all Grinches with Scroogian tendencies. Each and every one!
We’ve made Christmas the total opposite of why love came down. We’ve made it about expensive gifts that don’t truly fill a need, when all along Christmas is about a free gift that fills every need, all that is required is an open heart to receive it.
So, as I wrapped my thoughts and concluded that I’m nothing other than a hungry old Scrooge who needs Jesus RIGHT NOW, Three Sandwiches Shy Guy finally vacates the building with his three footlongs. I try to relinquish my annoyance at him by the time Jane asks, “Ma’am, ma’am. May I help you?? Ma’am??”
As efficiently as possible, I tell her, “I’ll have a six inch on wheat. Black forest ham and turkey. No cheese.”
After Jane prepared my masterpiece, I, myself, exited the building in the same fashion as Three Sandwich Guy. There stands Fake Santa in front of a Salvation Army kettle.
Ring, Ring, Ring. The bell echoed in the cold night air. I threw some change in the kettle.
“God bless you Ma’am,” said Fake Santa.
I buckled my seatbelt and scurried off with my sandwich while Bing Crosby gave his best rendition of Silver Bells. Driving over the damp roadways, I noticed how the city was glowing with Christmas lights everywhere. Some beautiful. Some tacky. It didn’t matter though. That old wave of Christmas blue rushed over me and reminded me that fallen though this world may be, Jesus is still the Christ of Christmas who reigns in good times and bad.
Born into deplorable conditions, the baby in the manger was God’s statement of love to a people He calls His own. There is no one good enough to deserve such a gift, yet, He calls us to be like little children and follow Him. As we all become like little children at Christmas, let us remember that while the manger is important, it was the cross where He met His destiny for our sake. Today, we are freely offered the gift of forgiveness. Jesus is the Savior of the world!
Wherever the Christmas bells resound, all around the world, let God’s people declare peace on Earth and good will toward all men. Including Three Sandwich Guy, Fake Santa, Jane the Subway Engineer, and Convenience Store Girl. Jesus Christ is born!
Merry Christmas, Dear Reader. From my desk to yours.
Read Brandi’s column each month in The Cross Timbers Gazette newspaper. Follow Brandi on Twitter @BrandiChambless