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The modern Christmas story

Mike Marchand | Sunday, December 7, 2003

Once upon a time a man named Joseph was traveling to Bethlehem to be counted for the census; he was with his betrothed, Mary, who was with child. He was also with his donkey, who bayed with every step, for holiday travel is always a pain in the ass.And as they went, the cities were filled with light. Some were of many colors and blinking; others were attached to metal frames in the shape of animals, which moved their heads electronically. There were candy canes and men in red suits and giant balloons in the shapes of snowmen and Homer Simpson.When Joseph and Mary arrived at the inn, they found that the price to stay was higher than on all other nights, and they were not pleased. Just then, the time came for the child to be born. So the innkeeper took them to the barn, where she delivered a boy, who was to be named Jesus. She wrapped him in a plaid fleece jacket by Baby Gap, on sale for $22.99, and placed him in a manger.Now in this region there were many shepherds who lived in the fields and tended their flocks by night. An angel appeared to them, wearing the latest line from the Victoria’s Secret Angels Collection. The shepherds were very frightened, and the angel said, “Do not be afraid, for I bring joyful news for all the people: with a receipt, you can return merchandise tomorrow and get store credit or cash. Oh, and also, some kid was born who’s like, the Messiah or something. He’s away in a manger down there.”And also at this time, some men were traveling from the East, who were either kings or wise men, and their names were Gaspar, Melchior and Bob. They were following a star that preceded them, and it stopped over the place where the Christ child was. They entered and presented gifts.The first magi, Gaspar, presented the child with gold, to crown the one who was the newborn King Of The Jews.The second magi, Melchior, presented the child with a gift certificate for frankincense, for he was not sure which scent the child would prefer and did not want to get one He wouldn’t like.The third magi, Bob, presented the child with a Chia Pet from Walgreens because it said “Makes a great gift!” on the side and because he waited until the last minute to purchase his gift.And thus was the story of the birth of Jesus, the Son of God.None of the above was meant to be blasphemous in any way. Have a sense of humor, for crying out loud. Apologies to Charles Schulz, Edgar Cayce, gospel writers Matthew and Luke, and anyone else whose beautiful Christmas narratives I’ve butchered.I’m not nearly as heartless about the rampant cheap-ifying of the Christmas season as this small parable lets on. Christmas is meant to be a time of joy and celebration. While I might be more of a traditionalist in this area, preferring “O Holy Night” to “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer,” however one chooses to celebrate is fine – as long as everyone keeps in mind that the true meaning of Christmas lies beyond what you’ll find under the tree, be it real, pine-scented plastic or one of those colored-light curly-designed things.May Christ’s peace be with all of you this holiday season.

Mike Marchand, class of 2001, spent most of the week in the Twin Cities area, and will therefore never complain about South Bend weather again. His e-mail address is Marchand.3@alumni.nd.edu. “Undistinguished Alumnus” will return next semester.The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.