anne_mikolay_120When my sons volunteered to decorate the outside of our home for Christmas this year, I happily agreed. They set the traditional lighted reindeer in place, hung the lights from the roof...and then haphazardly tossed strands of lights across a bush in the center of the lawn and jokingly highlighted their efforts with a lit archway. While passersby might gawk and wonder “what's up with that?” I rather like the creation my kids happily refer to as their “Christmas bush.”

I have a few “What's up with that?” inquiries of my own.

What's up with the seasonal flying pigs? Yes. Flying pigs. This year, I have seen several pink, winged pigs standing among outdoor holiday displays, and would very much like to know what a pig, especially a flying one, has to do with Christmas. Is it a belated show of support for 101.5 Radio's Flying Pig Coalition in protest of Governor Corzine? If not, please explain what's up with the flying holiday pigs?

What's up with the inflatable lawn Santas that bob in the wind during the night? Why not stick with outdoor décor that doesn't resemble deflated blobs of bubble gum in the morning?

What's up with a “Cherry Cherry Christmas?” Neil Diamond's new Christmas song confused me. A “cherry cherry Christmas?” What? A holiday tune that doesn't make sense without an explanatory internet search definitely misses its mark. (It seems Mr. Diamond has mixed holiday cheer with self-promotion; cherry cherry Christmas is meant to remind his fans of his 1960s hit, “Cherry Cherry.”)

What's up with President and Mrs. Obama conducting the annual White House Christmas tour with Oprah Winfrey instead of HGTV? Historically, HGTV has premiered the tour. Why is HGTV not good enough to do so this year? 

What's up with the traffic on Route 35 and the crowds in the stores? At 10:00 in the morning, the check-out line in the craft store was already at least ten people deep, and the traffic on Route 35 lately rivals summer shore traffic. Where's the monetary surge to support all this shopping coming from? Was a holiday stimulus issued, and nobody told me?

What's up with Kohls “Biggest Sale Event of the Year” campaign? It seems as though the biggest sale event takes place every single week. (Ah, that's why there's so much traffic!)

What's up with the “Keep Christ in Christmas” bumper stickers? Without initiative, these are nothing more than holiday trimmings. Tell me: how does one keep Christ in Christmas? Does triumphantly clutching your 20% Kohls discount coupon, or greedily collecting monetary gifts, put Christ in Christmas? Does buying the biggest, fanciest technological gadget you can find this season spread Christmas spirit? Does racing another driver to the last open parking space demonstrate good will?  Does slapping a bumper sticker on your car promote Jesus as the reason for the season? 

Absolutely not. It's nonsense; there's no peace and good will in any of it.

There is, however, good will in the ER nurse who recently allowed my elderly father to keep his treasured baseball cap on his head as he was wheeled to ex-ray. There is seasonal generosity in the customer who let me check out in front of them at the grocery store, and in the teenage guest in my home who crawled beneath my Christmas tree to adjust the tree skirt so I wouldn't have to. There is good will in my disabled, elderly mother-in-law who willingly struggles to bake Christmas cookies for family and friends, as well as in two young men who happily adorned a “Christmas bush” with lights.

Why don't more people realize that simplicity and purity of heart put Christ in Christmas?

What's up with that?