One thing stands out in my mind from breakfast with Survival Sam on that December Saturday. It started when our waitress, Tina, came to check up on us one more time and stayed a couple minutes longer than usual.
“You boys ready for Christmas?” asked Tina.
“As ready as I ever get,” Sam said.
“That’s because he doesn’t celebrate Christmas,” I said. “And neither do I.”
Tina looked shocked. “What? I never pictured you as a Scrooge, Sam.”
“Oh, he’s not,” I said. “He and Sally are some of the most generous people I know.”
“If you’ll recall,” said Sam, “at the end of Dickens’s story, he says Scrooge kept Christmas better than anyone.”
“I wish I didn’t have to,” Tina said. “Too much hassle, and it gets worse every year. It must be great not to have to buy presents for everybody.”
“I give gifts any time of the year I want,” Sam said. And you know there’s no law that says you have to do Christmas.”
“Yeah, I suppose you’re right, but everybody does it, and it’s traditional,” said Tina. “I do like the music, and the lights are awfully pretty.”
“That they are,” Sam said.
“Do you have some kind of religion that keeps you from—you know, from the Christmas thing?” Tina asked.
“I’m a born again believer in Jesus Christ. However, many of the customs we associate with Christmas have pagan origins that date back to before the time of Christ,” Sam said. “For example, the date for celebrating Christmas is based on worship of the S U N, not the S O N. To worship God with such unholy trappings would be inappropriate at the very least. Imagine yourself standing here this morning wearing a bikini. It would be out of place, wouldn’t it?”
Tina blushed. “I’ll say. Trust me, you wouldn’t want to see that. Too many bumps and bulges in all the wrong places. It would scare off all my customers.”
“Be that as it may,” Sam continued, getting past her remark, “you won’t find christmas anywhere in the Bible.”
“But the story of Jesus’ birth is there,” Tina said.
“True, and it’s a significant and marvelous historic event,” Sam said. “However, we’re not encouraged or commanded in Scripture to celebrate Christ’s birth. Instead, we’re told to commemorate His death, burial and resurrection.”
“Hmm, that’s something to think about,” Tina said. She started to turn away, but stopped in her tracks. Her expression softened. “I hope you don’t mind another question.”
“Not at all,” said Sam.
“Well, forgive me, but I’ve over heard you fellas in here a couple of times talking about preparedness and survival. Does your not doing Christmas have anything to do with that?” she asked.
“No, but the attitude a person has to have is similar,” Sam said. “You really have to be a nonconformist not to do Christmas. Likewise, practicing an attitude and lifestyle for survival means not conforming to what everybody else is doing.”
“That’s an interesting parallel,” I interjected.
“Our pastor at my church says Christ might not have been born on December 25th,” tina said, “but he puts up decorations and a Christmas tree. He says that he doesn’t worship it though.”
“Then why put one up at all if he knows better?” asked Sam. “There are all kinds of ways to rationalize why we should do Christmas. Knowing what I know about it, there’s no way I can do it with a clear conscience.”
“You’re not trying to stop anybody else from having their Christmas, are you?” tina asked.
“They can do whatever they want,” Sam said. “I would simply say this, whether it’s in regard to Christmas or preparedness. Do whatever you do with a clear head and a firm set of convictions. Bring others into the fold if you can, so to speak, but realize that most others will do what they want. You have to do what you know to be right.”
“Hmm…Well, you boys have a good one, whether you do Christmas or not,” said Tina, looking thoughtful as she turned to see about other customers.