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I Hate Christmas!
A True Story by Delores Baber

"I hate Christmas!"

This was a genuine feeling that had developed over the seven years I had worked as a cashier at a well-known chain discount store.

I had loved Christmas all my life, until. . . .now. What could have brought such a change that would have taken my favorite time of year and turned it into something I dreaded?

Every year the feelings had grown. It wasnít fun anymore. It was no longer a happy time.

Why?

Working in a discount store I had seen all the Christmas merchandise being put out, right up until Thanksgiving rolled around. Then thatís when things changed.

The customers came in droves, pushing and shoving, trying to get those limited sale items before anyone else could get them. Those that didnít make it in time became angry. Accusations were hurled, "Why did you advertise this item if you knew you only had a few?" (The child beside this angry person was crying and wiping their runny nose on their sleeve.)

By the time the customers reached the checkouts (where I was waiting to help them) they were tired and irritable. Crying was frequently heard from the children and angry tones and complaints from the parents. Out of boredom and curiosity the kids would start pulling merchandise off the checkout shelves, while mothers yelled, "Put that back, do you hear me! Leave that alone! Donít touch anything! Now youíve done it, your going to get it when I get you home!"

More crying. More yelling. No one in the lines was smiling. They were exhausted and frustrated.

They came with a mission Ė to obtain that unobtainable Toy of the Year for their child. How could they explain its absence on Christmas morning? After all, the child had sent their letter to Santa and it was his job to fulfill their every wish. But each parent knew that it was their job to see that "Santa" did just that.

Something was wrong. Something was missing. The customers werenít smiling and happy. Shopping for gifts for their loved ones was not a joy; not a labor of love. It was simply labor Ė and from the looks on their faces it was more like labor pains. For many it would mean going deeper in debt.

I looked at all the storeís decorations. Santa was everywhere. So was Rudolph and snowmen, snowflakes and Christmas balls, paper and ribbon. Something was definitely missing.

On one particularly taxing day, I clocked out at 9pm and went straight home, where I collapsed on the side of my bed. Thatís when I said it.

"I hate Christmas! I donít even see why we have to go through this every year."

The moment the words came out of my mouth I felt a sharp pain. Something was under me and had just jabbed a sharp point into my skin.

I jumped up, afraid to see what had attacked me. There lying on the bed, right where I had been sitting, was a pin Ė the kind women wear on their lapels. It lay there upside-down with the pin sticking up. I hadnít seen anything on the bed when I entered the room and nothing had stuck me when I plopped myself down. Only when I uttered those words had I felt this pain. I slowly picked up the pin and turned it over. The words on the pin were:

"Jesus is the Reason for the Season."


Now I knew what had been missing. How could I have forgotten the true meaning of Christmas?

"Forgive me, Lord...and thank You for making sure I got the point."
Delores Baber lives in Birmingham, Alabama, where she and her husband, Charles, have 3 children and 4 grandchildren. Delores is a licensed Christian Counselor who works mainly with high-risk youth and their families, but she is also available to anyone in pain. You can write to Delores through the Letters page of this magazine.