Growing up in north St Louis in the 1950s, even if not the best of places, was the best of times to grow up, If you don't think so then you haven't seen any of those movies which make it seem so much better in retrospect than while going through it. That's probably true of most people growing up in most times.
We lived in a predominately Italian-Catholic neighborhood. Many of my grade school friends spoke Italian at home and acted as translators for their grandparents from "the old country." At one point I even went to catechism class required of all my friends who were so unfortunate as to not attend the local parochial school, Nativity.
I don't recall any resentment at not being able to be Catholic. Our parents were faithful Christians and we attended church every time the doors were open most of my growing up years. There was, however, one thing I envied about my Catholic friends -- they got to go to midnight Mass on Christmas Eve. All we got to do was stay home and wait for Santa (which got a little boring at about age 10).
If Christmas was about Jesus, why didn't we get to go to church? At the risk of putting words into my late parent's mouths, I think it was because they didn't want anyone to think we were Catholic.
In recent years it has become popular among what are called evangelical Christians to bemoan the politically correct term "the Holidays". Their argument seems to be that this is taking Christ out of Christmas. Maybe it is, and just maybe such a separation is a good thing.
The "Holidays" apparently now include Hanukah, Kwanza, and other things inconceivable to those of us reared in the 1950s. That's okay with me for one. These celebrations, along with the whole Santa thing, have nothing to do with Christmas, anyhow. Christmas, certainly originally, is about the birth of Jesus, called the Christ. Let those who do not accept Him have their holidays, let the Christians have Christmas. And, yes, before you ask, Christian includes my Catholic friends.
So, if you are willing to be identified as a Christian, here is your chance to make a statement. Several area churches will be celebrating the birth of Christ with special services Christmas Eve. You will not be less a Christian if you stay home; nor is it an absolute you will be a better one if you suspend family traditions to spend an hour at church. But, there it is -- is Christmas about Christ for a Christian?
Since we moved to Indiana in 1996 Christ Community Church has had a very special Christmas Eve service open to everyone (even Catholics, I presume). Although this has not always been easy for me (or even possible once or twice), I've attended most of these services. These times of honoring Jesus have always been worth the effort, and plan to be there this year. May never know how it compares with a midnight Mass.
Speaking of Mass, Annunciation Church of Brazil will be holding their traditional midnight Mass on Christmas Eve. I've been assured Father Harold will welcome all wanting to put Christ back in Christmas Eve -- even if you're the only Protestant on the block.
David L. Lewis is an observer of and sometimes commentator on life who may be reached via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.