Iron Mountain ski jump

Iron Mountain ski jump

Monday, November 17, 2014

Happy Holidays

CHRIST IN WINTER: Reflections on Faith from a Place of Winter for the Years of Winter… ©

The holiday season is fast upon us. It starts with the annual Dead Antelope Festival Jubilee Celebration Days, which coincides with Deer Days, the opening of deer season in the UP, when schools have to be closed because teachers and students alike, along with everyone else, are out in the woods shooting Bambi’s mother. Since no one in our family hunts, we celebrate Dead Antelope Days, when all who come to the festival bring tribute—Monon rail cars and 1957 Desotos and the like—for the HO railroad grandson Joe and I run in our basement. He named it Dead Antelope, when he was about 7, for its general ambiance and mien. It has lived up nicely to its name.

Following quickly upon Dead Antelope Days are Thanksgiving, and Christmas, and Hanukah, and New Year’s, and Festivus [for the Rest of Us].

There is, of course, a great hubbub about “the war on Christmas,” because some folks greet others with “Happy Holidays” instead of “Merry Christmas,” both in person and with cards. The “war on Christmas” is a rather recent invention, although “Happy Holidays” is not. I first began paying attention to Christmas cards about sixty years ago, and “Happy Holidays” made frequent appearances, usually with symbols indicating both Christmas and New Year’s. It was simply an easy way of expressing good wishes for more than one festival occasion.

We once lived in a small town, about 2500 people, noted for its festivals, which attracted a lot of strangers to town so local organizations and merchants could extract money from them. They were fun, but also exhausting for the locals. When one of the banks in town was robbed, everyone sighed with exasperation, knowing that from then on there would be an annual Bank Robbery Festival, requiring yet more work.

The original intent of a festival, a jubilee, was for rest. It was an extended Sabbath. It gave people a chance to stop and think, a time to have fun together instead of work. Biblically, it was designed to give a respite to those in need of one. Jubilees were held every seven years, and at those occasions debts were wiped out. They were the original black Friday, when those most in need got out of the red. They were festivals of Sabbath, of rest instead of work, of grace instead of greed.

Let me be the first this year to wish for you: Happy Holidays! [And don’t forget to bring some HO track.]

John Robert McFarland

There is some debate about how often biblical jubilees were held. Some scholars think it was every 49 years, 7 times 7. At any rate, it would seem jubilees were the reason 7 became a “lucky” number.

The “place of winter” mentioned in the title line is Iron Mountain, in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, where life is defined by winter even in the summer! [This phrase is explained in the post for March 20, 2014.]

I have also started an author blog, about writing, in preparation for the publication, by Black Opal Books, of my novel, VETS, in 2015.

I tweet as yooper1721.

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