Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Thank God for the Carmelite Gift Shop

Four years a convert, I am still getting used to being a Catholic in this culture. So it was a surprise yesterday to shop for Christmas cards to enclose with the gifts I plan to give. I went to the local card shop, 40 years in business with long, long racks of Hallmark cards, plus a wild variety of offbeat cards from smaller manufacturers. On all those walls of green and red and gold, I could not find a single picture of the Baby Jesus.

There were plenty of pictures of funny cats and dogs with Santa hats on. There were cartoon cards, glitter cards, and tasteful hand-calligraphed cards on the best deckled paper. There were hipster cards and retro cards. There were cards that said Christmas is about gift-giving, guilt over not giving gifts that are good enough, eating, drinking, bingeing, being hungover, playing tricks on a fat man in the chimney, romance, sex, children sleeping, penguins singing in red costumes, candy canes, fir trees, angels, snow, the words Yule, Joy, and ho, ho, ho. . . Not one card admitted that Christmas is about Christ.

I am proud of what I did next.

I have known the owners of the shop almost as long as it has been open. (I have lived in town for 37 years.) Ordinarily, I would feel guilty about not buying anything, and then I would make some trivial purchase.

Instead, with the owner standing hopefully at the cash register, I walked out empty-handed, got in my car, and drove to the gift shop next door to the St. Thérèse Carmelite Chapel at the North Shore Mall. Although they were nearly out of stock, five days before Christmas, the shop still had a selection of beautiful cards. I bought some decorated with the Nativity of Our Lord. The message inside is understated, but at least it mentions “the true meaning of Christmas.”

That’s really all I want, the true meaning of Christmas. As my dear daughter keeps saying,“I’m so excited! In just a few more days, the baby Jesus is going to be born.” She says it without irony.

1 comment:

  1. I agree completely.

    And, thank you for the link to the gift shop.


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