by Isabel Matos
Image of Sarah Palin supporters celebrating Christmas in California.
I finished Sarah’s book, Good Tidings and Great Joy, this weekend. It was a fast and pleasant read. I cannot recommend it enough. I’m not here to preach about or give a review of the book. There are a few out there already, and I loved it so much it would take until Christmas day to cite all of my favorite passages. I just wanted to share my thoughts and what the book did for me after I read it.
I went to Cracker Barrel for dinner on Saturday night. I thought they’d have some Christmas displays or whatnots to distract myself with before dining. They have the cutest doilies, crafts, quilts and “American” items I can enjoy, since I’m from South Florida. I wouldn’t live anywhere else (I love it here!), but America is a long way from here. (Those of you who been here or close-by know what I mean.) I just love browsing through their stuff even if I don’t buy anything.
As I grabbed the handle to swing the door open, a small wood sing hung with wire clacked against it. It read:
We will be closed Tuesday, December 10th, for a Holiday staff party.
Anyway, I was greeted by a friendly associate. I did not plan on it, but just out of curiosity I asked for anything with the words MERRY CHRISTMAS on it.. As I did, I looked all around me for T-shirts, signs, aprons, anything with the two little words. Nothing. I turned to her and just gave quick stare with a bit of a sarcastic frown (or smile), whichever way you may interpret it.
She was very understanding and said, “Sorry, there is nothing at all.” She shook her head a few times as she looked all around, too, and nervously sighed. I felt comfortable enough by then to say that it was disappointing and that I was surprised, when I said, “It’s about .. you know, Jesus’s birthday.” She nodded in agreement with me and smiled, but repeated, “No, we have nothing, sorry.” And that awkward silence followed. I thanked her and smiled, too.
As I was waiting to be seated, I asked the hostess if the manager was around that night. She said yes, he was; so I decided I would ask him AFTER dinner why there were no Christmas items in the store. She was a little aloof and there was no point in bothering her with more questions. I was just there to enjoy the meal, not have my dinner spoiled. (I’ve heard those horror stories about vindictive servers doing things to food for ornery customers and didn’t want to be a victim.)
After dinner (which was great) I asked for the manager. He was very tall and big, but friendly. I smiled and said rather softly, “I’m not here to preach, just to share my thoughts and concerns about the store not having anything with the words ‘Merry Christmas’ on them. Even the tree in the middle of the dining room has big round flat round wooden red and green ornaments all over it with the words ’Happy Holidays’ engraved on each one.” I asked, “Really, all its ornaments?” I continued.. “Did they have to rub it in by putting them all over the tree and remind us that Christ was not invited to his own party here?”
As we spoke a customer was walking out with a box. It had a ceramic “Christmas tree” label on the outside and it was about two feet tall inside I guessed. I pointed it out and continued, “Why is there just that one item? Your associate said there was nothing in the store.”
He listened respectfully. I reassured him I loved eating there and dug their gift shop. That is when he nodded and answered, “The policy is to NOT OFFEND anyone.” (Okay, those were red flag words, and I saw him roll his eyes as he said them, as if he wanted me to know about his own resentment of the silly policy.)
I was encouraged by this and immediately asked, ”What about the person who sacrificed His life for all this? Shouldn’t He be offended? Or those of us who worship Him? I’m offended. What about those who gave up their freedom and sacrificed their lives, too, so we could express ourselves at this time. THEY should be offended.” It was not time to stop while I was ahead. Not yet. I made sure he knew again how much I loved the food there and the store.. but expressed my dissatisfaction again:
“C’mon. No Christmas anywhere at all? in the whole store?”
He was as polite as can be.. so I asked if there was a board of decision-makers who made these calls. He wiped his brow (he was sweating a little – he was a big guy and a bit out of breath) and said, “Yes. There is one and you have my word I will let them know what you said.” He smiled again in agreement, just like the associate, and with that, I thanked him and left. That’s all I wanted, was to let them know someone noticed.
This is the Country Barrel in the last exit of the Florida Turnpike, my backyard, just before you go on the highway (US1) that takes you to Key West, the southernmost tip of the United States of America. It’s very easy to find, and I will check back with them next year to see if anything is done. Maybe they will follow the examples of the GAP or Wal-Mart.
God bless you, Palinistas. Don’t just fight on, do so with love in your heart. Even if it stings. That’s how we get things done. This didn’t sting, but it hurt a little after I left knowing that the whole world is celebrating what Todd told Sarah about her birthday being just like any other day, a holiday. It isn’t. It’s Christmas.
Ah, I almost forgot to mention why I posted the picture above which seems unrepresentative (but is not unrelated) to my story at Cracker Barrel. After I got back that night to check in to my accounts on Twitter and Facebook, (just to browse because I was not in the mood for politicking that night), I found a post by Gina Gentry Loudon: ”Going to a secret location for a Christmas party.” How intriguing. (She always is.) Then the picture appeared on my feed from, you guessed it, Thomas Schmitz of AGU who was at the same location with her. Bingo. How wonderful! He had already posted Merry Christmas several hours earlier and I was tickled pink to have guessed who the mystery guest next to her was, so I wrote it on his wall. I hope he didn’t mind my mentioning it here to emphasize that we may not be able to know for sure who has read Sarah’s book, but we can be sure who hasn’t! Scrooges, that’s who! Anyone who has not mentioned “Merry Christmas” yet, or smiled or cheered or shared a little love and good will. (I loved the hot pink tree in particular. It was festive and shiny.)
Thanks to Sarah Palin we can all do simple acts of activism like the two(from cost to coast) above, showing our love for Christ’s birth. Sarah did an admirable thing by writing her book and spreading the message the way it should be spread. (She has always been the right messenger with the right message for me no matter what she does.) And as her book rightly points out, the really brave act was by Jesus Himself who came to serve us with complete humility, and to save us. It is in His Name and Spirit that we should proudly and openly celebrate his day. She emphasizes throughout her book that Jesus was a Jew and that his family, which is at the center of the debate of nativity displays, was also Jewish. She does so because she embraces Judeo-Christian values we all share and should defend.
Let’s make the book number one, then, is all I have to say. This is my backyard and “small” town, Florida City, at dusk.