by Jay O'Toole
This is chapter #13 of The Quest for Home, my NaNoWriMo novel for November 2017.
Red and green and lights ablaze,
Santa visits soon.
Celebrations all our days!
Gabriel knows his tune!
"So, are you ready to go to sleep, yet, Son?"
"Not quite, Dad. I have something else on my mind. Before we went to bed a few nights ago, I saw a strange sight down in the valley. Fort Worth was lit up with colorful lights. On the ground was the soft, fluffy stuff that now blocks the door of our den, but it was white, when I could see it. The white stuff covered the triangular trees that grew in most of the yards, but inside of the white and green limbs were lights, colored red, green, blue, yellow and orange."
"Christmas lights. They're beautiful, aren't they?"
"I thought so, but why do the humans light their trees at this time of the year only? Wouldn't the colored lights be beautiful all throughout the year?"
"No doubt they would, Son, but the colored lights have special meaning this time of the year for at least two reasons. First, the days are growing shorter, which means there are fewer hours of sunlight to brighten the lives of the humans. The humans do love to see light. They even have whole businesses centered around light bulbs and how to make the light bulbs fit into the decor of their homes. Secondly, the colored lights show that The Son of God (or D'Oso Reimi, whom I met,) is The Light of the World. As The Light of the World, He shines through every human, who receives Him into that human's heart, (which is The Big Choice you and I made,) shining through the differently colored skins to show that His Light is the same, regardless of the color of the package on the outside that shows His warm glow."
"WOW. That's amazing, Dad. How did Christmas come to be celebrated as it is today?"
"Hmmmm, do you remember the movie they showed after school a couple of weeks ago?"
"You mean, Why Do They Call It Christmas? by Phil Vischer?"
"That's the one."
"Yes, Sir. It was really interesting. The puppets were fun to watch."
"I agree. In the movie, Phil mentioned about the Winter Solstice, which is the shortest day of the year with regard to sunlight. He said that Julius, the First decreed that the Roman Empire would honor the birth of The Son of God on the shortest day of the year, December 25th, when the world was in the greatest need of light because He was (and IS) the greatest Light to fill that need."
"Christmas honors the birth of Jesus Christ, The Light of the world, on the annual day that needs the light the most."
"Is that when Jesus of Nazareth was really born in Bethlehem?"
"In all actuality, it is very unlikely that Jesus was born on December 25th."
"Why do you believe that, Dad?"
"From all of the material I have read by our greatest minds, who spent time on Reimi IV talking to the humans, I feel certain that the time of year that Jesus entered our world is probably a lot closer to the time of year when He went back to Heaven."
"When was that? I know about winter, spring, summer, and fall. Was it one of these?"
"Quest, I believe the major activities of Jesus' life on Earth happened between March and May. You mentioned it. It is the season, known as spring."
"See? I think the pretty colored lights would look pretty in the spring, too. Don't you?"
"Always with the lights, My Boy. Well, that's okay. I love the lights, too. Again, I think you're right. The lights would look beautiful any time of year at night, especially in the spring, when all of the beautiful colors decorate the yards during the daytime. Colored lights at night would be beautiful in the fall of the year because they would be in agreement with all the multi-colored leaves on the trees. Even summer would be a great time for the colored lights at night because even though the main colors of summer are shades of green in the meadows and blue in the sky, the sun takes a long time to go down in the evening, painting a more durable canvas of red, yellows and oranges in the sky before nightfall. At that point the beautiful colored lights could continue those very same hues into the night, keeping the light glowing after the sun has gone to bed."
"WOW, Dad. That's amazing."
"Let's get back to our subject. Why is it important that Jesus entered and exited HIStory in the spring of the year?"
"Okay, Dad, why do you believe He did that?"
"'Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.' (2 Corinthians 5:17, KJV) I believe Jesus came in the spring because 'He makes all things new'. New life comes in the spring. Jesus was born in this spring. Jesus died, was buried and was raised to new life in the spring. Jesus ascended back to Heaven in the late spring."
"I guess not a lot of people know about that. It's almost like a secret."
"Nicely put, Quest. I have learned to call it 'Secret Christmas.' According to The Jesus Trail website, '...the approximately 100-mile trip would have taken them 8-10 long days of walking.' That is why I believe it would have been difficult for his earthly parents to take the trip in the winter time of the year. The weather is less predictable, though the temperature only ranges down to the 40s and 50s Fahrenheit. Still, that would be a bit challenging for people, who wear thin cloth coverings for the desert climes."
"You think Jesus' family traveled 100 miles on foot in the spring of the year."
"I really do, Buddy. Think of it this way. Jesus came in the cool of the spring and was laid in a manger, which was used for feeding the livestock. No matter how clean the owners kept the livestock, it would remain a fact of nature that livestock would eat their grain and straw products in a rather messy way. They grab a bunch of the food, but some invariably would drop out of their mouths as they chewed. That would mean that there would have been partially-eaten grain and straw on the ground around the trough-manger. There was probably partially-eaten grain and straw in the trough-manger itself. Farmers rarely wash out and scrub clean the food bins or troughs between usages. The farmers typically just pour on new provender over the old used food. That means the manger was potentially pretty smelly when Jesus was laid there for the first time. The cool time of the year was ideal since the smelliness didn't have the heat of summer adding to the smell. I'm not sure what the colder temperature of the winter would have done to the used provender, but I doubt that it was very good."
"There is another reason why I believe that all of the important events of Jesus' life happened in the spring of the year," Casa continued. "Ultimately, it is the Resurrection of Jesus to which I refer as Secret Christmas. It's like this. The humans all look forward to giving and receiving presents on Christmas. It's rather funny if you think about it. The humans are 'perfect little angels' from their Thanksgiving Day all the way through to their Christmas Day. However, as soon as they receive their presents on Christmas morning, they go back to being whatever level of self-centered humans they were before Thanksgiving came to start the charade."
"You mean the humans have an ulterior motive in their 'goodness'?"
"Not to sound cynical, but often they do, My Boy. It really is sad, if you think about it to any degree of depth. They appear to be following the script of that old, familiar Christmas song. 'He sees you when you're sleeping. He knows when you're awake. He knows when you've bad or good. So, be good for goodness sake.' It's almost like a one-to-one computer input-output. Input goodness and on Christmas Day the output will be lots of Christmas presents. Once they get the stash, they figure they've got at least the next ten or eleven months to live however they wish, before they have to put on their 'game face' for the annual Christmas transaction. Bribe the jolly, old fat man in the red suit and gain your end-of-year 'goodness' loot."
"WOW, Dad. You really do sound very cynical about humans and the way they celebrate Christmas. Don't you think that anything that creates peace and joy for even one month out of the year is worthy of some respect?"
"I apologize, Son. You're right. The humans have created such a dangerous world through selfishness, desire for more, the struggle for power and the demand to be noticed and famous that one month of kindness out of the year is certainly worth a greater level of notice and praise than I have been giving it. I suppose the humans are not that different from us bears. We take what we need to survive. We see something we can eat and we take it. We need a place to sleep and we evict whatever smaller creature may already be living there. The truth is that none of us ever pay rent like the humans do."
"You're doing okay, Dad. Don't be so hard on yourself. We all have faults and frailties. I think that is what D'Oso Reimi was saying to you. He came to Earth to fix the rift between Mankind and God, His Father. I don't think he expects us to be perfect. I think He just expects us to admit that by virtue of the Fall we can't be anything, but imperfect. We need D'Oso to save us from ourselves."
"That's right, Son. Thanks for reminding me. Secret Christmas is Resurrection Sunday morning because the Best Gift of Christmas opens itself from the inside on the morning of The Resurrection. The everlasting Giver of the greatest Gift ever is Jesus. He raised Himself from the dead. Let me reiterate, Jesus was no Hollywood-esque zombie. (Those humans in Hollywood always make me laugh because they try to create whatever they can't understand, and they get it wrong EVERY TIME.) When Jesus opened the largest Christmas present ever, the borrowed tomb, on Secret Christmas (Resurrection) morning, He demonstrated to the world and to Eternity itself that He is concurrently the Greatest Gift and the Greatest Giver of the Greatest Gift."
"Why don't all of Earth's residents agree with Jesus and receive this Greatest Gift, gladly?"
"That is the nature of gifts, My Boy. Gifts are given to chosen loved ones, but gifts can only be enjoyed, when a loved one receives the gift with open arms. People don't always like the giver of gifts. Maybe they've been hurt by past experiences and their 'Truster' is broken. Maybe, they think that anything in life that is worthwhile must be earned, like respect and love and friendship. Maybe they're so filled with hate that they don't know how to love. They can't even seem to love themselves. Whatever the reason may be, the Gift remains under the Christmas tree waiting to be opened, enjoyed and used to the full, but the person is unable to participate, remaining separated from the beloved. And D'Oso Reimi cries for every one of these individuals."
"I feel like crying, too, Dad."
"Me, too, Quest, but let's refocus on the one thing that personally gives us hope. You and I have made The Big Choice for D'Oso. We have each received His Greatest Gift, Salvation. We belong to Him, forever. We will nevermore be 'separated from the beloved.' We live now and always in HOPE, that has been written in all capital letters."
"That is WONDERFUL, Dad. Thank you so much for telling me what D'oso Reimi shared with you. I am really glad to Him in a personal way."
"You're welcome, Buddy. I'm glad for both of us, too."
"Hey, Dad. Aren't we forgetting something? You told me that bears celebrate Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day back-to-back or two days in a row so we can feast in readiness for our 'winter-long nap.' What is this Thanksgiving Day you mentioned? Does it have anything to do with The Bible like Christmas Day does?"
"Though Thanksgiving Day is an extra-Biblical celebration, (which means it does not appear in The Bible,) the concept of Thanksgiving is a thread, which runs everywhere throughout The Bible. For instance, 'In everything give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.' (I Thessalonians 5:18, KJV) Paul, the Apostle wrote these words, and if anybody knows the truth of these words, then he surely should be willing to give thanks upon every possible occasion. Paul was originally named 'Saul.' As Saul the Pharisee he proved to be one nasty dude, especially to the early Christians of Palestine. Saul would go to faraway towns and cities to arrest Christians, to have them thrown in jail and when possible, he personally saw to it that they were killed. Saul HATED Christians because he considered them to be blasphemers of the Jewish religion, deviating from the Torah, the Talmud, and the Writings."
"WOW, Dad. What finally changed him into someone, who gave thanks in everything?"
"The humans have a wonderful expression. 'He got knocked off his high horse.' Saul was in a determined march to the city of Damascus, breathing smoke out of his nostrils, just like the terrible dragon that he was. Riding high on his horse on the Damascus Road in the middle of the day, Saul was confronted by God's Bright Light. He fell to the ground and heard these words, "Saul. Saul. Why are you persecuting me?' Saul responded the only way he could respond, 'Who are you, Lord?' He didn't yet know D'Oso Reimi, (who was also known as, Jesus,) but He knew he was in the presence of Someone, Who was able to stop him cold in his tracks. So, he called the unknown Voice, 'Lord,' (which means Boss, Superior, Master, President, Somebody Way Bigger than me.) In other words, Saul said, 'I don't know Who You are, Sir, but You have my full attention.' Let that be a lesson to you, Quest. When you are in the presence of a superior, always show the highest Respect."
"Yes, Sir. I will."
"The Voice continued, 'I am Jesus, Whom you are persecuting.'"
"That's really strange, Dad. I thought at this point Jesus had already returned to Heaven to live with His Father, again, forever."
"Great memory, Buddy. He had done that very thing. So, why did He tell, Saul, that He was being personally persecuted by Saul when Saul had never been to His Home?"
"Well, I guess it had something to do with the Christians that Saul had hurt and the ones he was on the way to hurt."
"Bulls Eye! Anytime someone harms the people Jesus has transformed by His Gift of Salvation, He identifies so intensely with these people that he considers Himself to be personally harmed. This stands to reason because at the very moment that somebody, like us, makes The Big Choice for D'Oso Reimi (or Jesus,) He personally takes up residence in that person's heart. Therefore, when a Christian is being persecuted, Jesus IS being persecuted Himself because He is living inside that Christian experiencing everything that the Christian is experiencing during every moment of his or her life."
"How did Saul finally become Paul, the Apostle?"
"Jesus told Saul to go into town and wait. D'Oso (Jesus) would send someone to instruct him as to how to proceed. That happened, then the newly named, Paul, received new eyesight and was sent out into the Arabian Desert to be personally taught by Jesus Himself for three years. You would think that all went well for Paul after that, but not exactly. Paul had to run from enemies. He was in a shipwreck. He was bitten by a poisonous snake and lived to tell about it. He caused riots and uproars, simply because he didn't try to hide his new beliefs. Finally, he was jailed and taken to the Caesar of that day. His life on Earth ended when he was killed as punishment for his 'wrong beliefs.'"
"How does all of this fit into 'In everything give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.' (I Thessalonians 5:18, KJV)"
"Seems really strange, doesn't it, Quest? The man, who did terrible things and had terrible things done to him was telling people, who had received the Gift of D'Oso Reimi to be thankful in all things. You mean I am supposed to be thankful when my enemies are chasing me? Apparently. Am I supposed to be thankful when the ship is going down? Yes. I am supposed to be thankful when a poisonous snake bites me? WOW, but Yes. I am supposed to be thankful, when people shout at me, take me to prison and ultimately kill me because of my beliefs. Apparently, but none of this is easy for me to grasp, Son. Paul lived a hard life, but he wrote more of The New Testament than any other writer. In all things he learned to see the hand of God, working things out for his good and for God's Glory."
"Is that how we have Thanksgiving Day as a holiday?"
"Not really. All of this history of the Apostle Paul is simply a Biblical basis for thanksgiving. The holiday was created over 1500 years later when a group of pilgrims from Europe set out in search of a new and hopefully pristine land, where they could worship God without any persecution. These dear souls had been receiving a great deal of grief (or abuse) when they exercised their faith in God in their homeland of Europe. Another part of the pilgrims was tired of receiving grief because they didn't want to believe in God at all. The believers and the nonbelievers boarded the same boat and due to the rigors of the trip to the New World, they were forced to work together despite their divergent belief systems, if they were going to survive the trip at all."
"I am assuming that they succeeded in reaching the New World."
"Yes, they did, Son, but then more challenges began. The first winter was harsh. Many of the pilgrims died. Many were very sick. But some survived by the Grace of God and with the help of the Native Americans that they met when they arrived. These natives, who looked a bit primitive by European standards could have killed the pilgrims for trespassing on their lands and because their languages and customs were strange to the Native Americans, but once again an alliance was forged in the middle of some very stressful times."
"I can see why they were thankful just to be alive."
"The pilgrims could all see 'the hand of Providence' (as they used to put it) in the survival of those, who remained after some died on the voyage over to The New World as well as the ones, who had died during that first harsh year in The New World. First and foremost, the Thanksgiving of the pilgrims was given to God Himself as The One, Who had preserved the lives of those, who had survived so many harsh events in search of freedom of conscience, freedom of worship, freedom of speech,...in a word freedom to live without harsh, dictatorial rulership of kings and the like."
"What about the Native Americans? Were the Pilgrims thankful to them for helping them to survive in the harsh environment?"
"My Boy, these pilgrims were over-the-moon grateful to the Native Americans for their kindness, for their support, for their provisions, for the welcome they gave the pilgrims as strangers in a very wild and unknown new land. The pilgrims saw the Native Americans as messengers of mercy and grace from the Loving God, Who had guided them and Who gave them a new home in a new land."
"But, Dad, I overheard some of the humans wishing each other, 'Happy Turkey Day' and 'Enjoy All the Football Games.' When did the humans forget the harsh conditions of the first Europeans, who came to this land?"
"Attrition happens over many years. Things improve, harshness is forgotten, people get lazy, and privilege becomes a 'right.' However, those who understand the Truth choose to remember and show thanksgiving for the same reason that their forebears did."