A little girl came home from Sunday school triumphantly waving a paper. "Mommy!" she said. "My teacher says I drew the most unusual Christmas picture she has ever seen!"
The Mother studies the picture for a moment and concluded it was indeed a very peculiar Christmas picture. "This is wonderfully drawn, but why have you made all these people riding on the back of an airplane?" The mother gently asked.
"It's the flight into Egypt," the little girl said, with a hint of disappointment that the picture's meaning was not immediately obvious.
"Oh," the mother said cautiously. "Well, who is this mean-looking man at the front?" "That's Pontius, the Pilot," the girl said, now visibly impatient.
"I see. And here you have Mary and Joseph and the baby," the mother volunteered. Studying the picture silently for a moment, she summoned the courage to ask, "But who is this fat man sitting behind Mary?"
The little girl sighed. "Can't you tell? That's Round John Virgin!"
We laugh, but the sad truth is that little girl’s mixed-up perspective of Christmas is not really much more muddled than the notions the average person carries around. Christmas has become an elaborate fabrication, and our celebrations reflect that. The cast of characters we bring out at Christmas is no less bizarre than the ensemble that the little girl put on her airplane. Our Christmases are the product of an odd mixture of pagan ideas, superstitions, fanciful legends, and plain ignorance. The real message of Christmas is all but lost in the chaos.
Let’s try to sort it out.