Sunday, December 13, 2009

As for Me and Bupkis We Believe

Okay I have a confession. I don’t decorate for Christmas. I don’t put up a tree; I don’t hang lights, heck I don’t even hang mistletoe. First of all let me just say that I am not a Grinch. I in fact love the Festivus for the rest of us season. I love looking at Christmas lights and Chanukah or Hanukah howeverah youah spellah itah lights. I love the idea of the holidays and for what they are supposed to stand. What is that you ask?

My ideal of the Holiday Season has to do with love, peace and tolerance, which I guess if you have either of the first two then that third thing comes all on its own. I don’t believe it should be about presents and who decorates more or better than someone else. I gave up being materialistic for lent and I’m not even cataholic nor is it lent. I remember when I was a wee child going to our beloved Bathtist church that our youth director would not let his children have a Christmas tree. He said it was sacrilegious. He was not a bad man or a mean dad he just didn’t think his children should have a pagan symbol to worship and instead insisted on a nativity scene. This is how my story happened.

Little Gladys no longer believed in Santa Clause but she did believe in presents. She felt sorry for Brother Bupkis’ children. They had never believed in Santa, they were never given the opportunity to believe. Brother Bupkis told her this in her junior youth Sunday school class. He explained that he would not let his children believe in Santa because that was unchristian.

Now Little Gladys was perplexed by the fact that Santa could be considered unchristian. She thought he was the epitome of Christian. He was considerate, fair, giving and selfless. Think about it, he worked all year to spend one night flying all over the world giving things away to people he didn’t know. How much more Christian like could he be? She listened to Brother Bupkis spout his opinions as to why Santa was more Satan. Little Gladys began to fume. She began to boil. She began forming her rebuttal in her mind not listening to the rest of the narrow minded rubbish Brother Bupkis was pontificating. She had her argument all mapped out. She knew just what to say and how to say it. She was ready for any untoward come-back he might have for her arguments. Little Gladys was going to close this case just like Perry Mason. She would have Brother Bupkis confessing to killing Santa by the time she finished. The more she thought about it, Perry Mason might in fact be Santa. He was built like him. Heck even his real name reminded you of the season...Burr.

Little Gladys had made up her mind she was going to research how the legend of Kris Kringle came to be then she would find a way to tie it in with the birth of the baby Jesus. She found out that Saint Nicholas of Myra was an actual saint as in canonized by the Pope.

 She knew this would do no good as she was a Bathtist and well let’s just say that Bathtist and Catoholics did not believe the same things. She then learned that the Germans celebrated the Yule which was based on Odin’s great hunting party in the sky. The children would leave straw and carrots in their boots for Odin’s horses and he would in turn leave them presents.

 No not horse apples, real presents like dolls and candy. This information again did her no good in her non-pagan Santa argument. The Netherlands and Belgium celebrated De Geode Sint or The Friendly Saint. Not to be confused with Casper the Friendly Ghost; they are two completely different holidays. She learned that the Christmas tree may have originated as a Druid symbol during the winter solstice. None of these facts were helping her in any way form an argument for Santa and a Christmas tree.

She again walked up to Mrs. Riley the librarian at her elementary school and asked for another reference for Christmas and the relating symbols. Mrs. Riley with her mini-skirt and go-go boots smiled at Little Gladys and walked with her to the reference section. “Gladys, why are you so interested in finding out about the origins of Christmas? Is this a project you are working on for class” she asked as she adjusted her glasses. Gladys looked at her Hush-puppies and shook her head “no ma’am. Our Sunday school teacher said his kids couldn’t have a tree or believe in Santa because it’s sack-religionous. I think its sack-relgionous to not let them believe.” Mrs. Riley corrected her and said “sacrilegious. I think it would be a shame to not believe in Santa. Gladys, do you still believe in Santa?” Gladys looked at Mrs. Riley and replied “I want to but I know it’s really your parents. I don’t care though; I still pretend that he exists. My mom still gives us presents from him.” Mrs. Riley smiled and placed her hand on Gladys’ shoulder “you can believe if you want to, it’s okay. I still believe in fact I just finished my letter to Santa would you like to read it?”

Gladys looked at the librarian and cocked her eyebrow “you wrote a letter to Santa? Why?” Mrs. Riley adjusted her skirt and smoothed down her hair “because you never know. What if Santa is real and people just tell you he doesn’t exist. You know like that horrible woman that wants to take prayer out of our schools. She doesn’t believe Jesus exists. It is a matter of faith. If you have faith then it doesn’t matter what anyone says.”

Little Gladys looked at the book that Mrs. Riley had handed her it was titled “Bible Stories”. Gladys thought about faith and what it had to do with Santa. The light bulb went off over Gladys’ head and she hugged the librarian and ran back to the table where she was making notes.

She was ready. She was more than ready she was Perry Mason ready. She walked into her Sunday school class holding her white Bible that zipped all the way around and had her name engraved in gold in the leather cover. That bible had been a Christmas present from Santa the year before. She walked up to Brother Bupkis and cleared her throat. “Hey Gladys how are you this fine day” he queried. “Brother Bupkis, can I talk to you about something serious” Gladys asked. The minister agreed and took Gladys into the prayer room. He sat on one pew and she on the other.

Gladys unfolded her paper and took a deep breath. “Brother B, I know you think Santa is evil and that Christmas trees are pagan but I think you are wrong.” The man shook his head and replied “you don’t understand Gladys; you’re too young to understand.” Gladys hated it when grown-ups said that. They really didn’t know that sometimes she understood better than they did. She understood without having all those clouded grown-up opinions. She looked at her paper and said “I did a lot of research and I can certainly understand why you would feel that celebrating Christmas with a tree and Santa could be miscon… miscom… um not be right. I was getting pretty discouraged but then my librarian said something that made me think differently.” The young minister smiled and put his hand on Gladys shoulder “I’m sure you did a lot of studying on this but my mind is made up.” Gladys bit back her frustration and marched on “I did but that’s not important what is important is that it made me realize that it’s about faith. If you don’t have faith and believe then nothing is real. The baby Jesus being borned in a trough is just a story. The guy parting the sea is just a story. Jesus being dead as a doornail then coming back to life is just a story unless you have faith. Santa is just a story but if it teaches you to have faith then is it evil? If you equate the character of Santa with Jesus then is it evil? If you use the life of the tree as the life of Christ and the presents as the gifts he gives is it evil? Is it? If I can have faith in Santa bringing me the one thing I really want then I can have faith that Christ will forgive me of my sins”

Brother Bupkis wiped his face with his hands and then looked at Gladys. “Gladys you make a really good point but I think it is important for my kids to grow up knowing the truth.” Gladys lowered her head and thanked the man for his time. She took her seat in class and felt sorry for the Bupkis kids.

Christmas approached and she saw little four year old Katie Bupkis in the vestibule of church. The little girl ran up to Gladys and cried “guess what! You’ll never ever in a million hundred years guess.” Gladys smiled and said “you got a pony?” Katy giggled and said “No.” Gladys guessed again “you got a puppy?” Katy squealed “NO! We got a Christmas tree. Daddy took us and bought us a Christmas tree.” Gladys hugged the little girl and made her way to the front of the church. Sister Bupkis was standing waiting for Katie and saw Gladys and gave her a hug “I don’t know what you said to Mr. Bupkis, Gladys, but thank you.”

Gladys smiled and said “I just told him you got to have faith.”

I haven’t put a Christmas tree up for a couple of years now. I just want you to know it’s not because I think it’s pagan or evil. It is because I’m lazy. Happy Festivus oh and Santa if you are reading this I DO BELIEVE.


Kelly said...

I'm not religious nor am I a Christian but I agree: If you have faith and if you believe, then it's REAL and it's TRUE.

Brian Miller said...

really a beautiful tale changed a life that day...and i think that is the spirit of this holiday...

Gladys said...

Kelly that is what it's about, faith. I wouldn't describe me as overly religious either but I do have faith.

terri said...

You did a wonderful thing for the Bupkis family. Some might even describe it as a miracle; to change a heart that way! And you accomplished this as a kid! That's amazing!

Tracy said...

You have a way with words Gladys!

arlene said...

Gladys, thank you so much for that tale. That little girl is an awesome person. I know "I" would lose an argument to such an articulate, argumentative little girl. I bow to you and your gift of words.

Anonymous said...


Train Wreck said...

What a great story! You did a beautiful thing, and you were so young. That in itself is amazing. What a smart interested little girl you started out as. Now look at you...still going!