anne mikolay 2012 120I've said it before, and I'll say it again. There's a bit of hypocrisy inherent in the holiday season. What's the point of Christmas cheer and good will if people treat one another abominably the rest of the year? If it's better to give than receive, why do people make lengthy “gimme” lists of expensive items they're certain they can't live without? And if Jesus is the reason for the season, why is it so commercial? Year after year, I push these Scrooge-like sentiments aside to make merry with family and friends, but sooner or later my seasonal doubt peeks through the garland and holiday hoopla. Little wonder people become depressed and disillusioned during the holidays; Christmas can be like a glittering, beautiful, very empty box.

Recently, while driving along glancing at the many Christmas decorations on front doors and lawns, I had a bit of an epiphany.

On a certain road in Middletown, a tall, inflatable Frosty the Snowman caught my eye – not because of its tremendous height, but because it had been positioned with its back toward the street. Passersby might think it odd that Frosty's face is hidden from view, but I instantly understood. I happen to know a little child lives in this particular house. As I looked at the backward snowman, I imagined a little voice pleading, “Daddy, I want to see Frosty's face when I look out the window!” Willing to do anything to ensure his child's joy, Daddy erected the inflatable decoration backward upon his lawn. While the public is mooned by Frosty, his cheery countenance is clearly visible to the little one that matters.

You can't experience Christmas, you see, without looking at it backward...through a child's eyes.

Yes, the same people who wish you “Merry Christmas” will cut you off in traffic and thoughtlessly push ahead of you in the supermarket line, but at least they exercise good will during the most important time of the year. Some people might prefer to receive gifts rather than give, but look at how joyous they are upon opening their treasures. And, if you so desire, all the lights and store displays that smack of commercialism could be construed as celebratory precursors to the arrival of the Christ Child. It all depends on how you look at it. Most definitely, innocent children see only joy.

Matthew 18:3: “And He said: I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.”

To the family who put a backward snowman on their front lawn, thank you for reminding me what truly counts in life. And to the rest of The Atlantic Highlands Herald readers, may you have a blessed, backward Christmas.