Headlines from First Thoughts

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Thursday, December 14-- Christmas Letters

When did the "Christmas letter" craze begin? Do you receive these? They're the annual state- of- the- family reports from people who send Christmas cards. I still receive a few cards with just a nice picture; but most of the time, the sender includes a highlight reel of the year's landmarks.

I've noticed something this year however. The older the writer, the more realistic the picture. Younger families usually write glowing reports: "Little Julie was born, Johnny can now ride his bike to France and back, Glenda is now a straight A student at Harvard." The info is nice, but you really want to ask, "Are these people real?!" Even I know there's more to the story. Where's the good stuff? Where are the failures and problems? Tell me about a few bad breaks.

Enter the senior adult letter. Few mature citizens send out the annual letter, but they are usually the most interesting. They not only include the snapshots of the year, but invariably they discuss surgeries, medications, pains, aches, test results. This is good stuff-- maybe a little too much-- but at least you get a realistic picture of life. "Why try to paint a rosy picture?" the senior adult asks, "Just tell 'em like it is."

Matthew had to be nearing the retirement home when he finally edited the pieces of Jesus' story into a cohesive Gospel. He didn't pull any punches. There are a few nice, glowing images. He includes a report of "righteous" Joseph and wealthy magi. Those fit well into the nativity pageant.

But then we also read the rest of the story. Jesus is related to Rahab, and Herod slaughtered most of the babies born at the same time out of fear. Joseph and Mary spend most of the time on the road, and the world ignored the birth of Jesus.

Matthew's Christmas letter wasn't rosy, but it was realistic. Maybe that's a story worth sending more than once a year.

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