I actually REALLY sympathize with this guy because family + Christmas = Satan, and I have a mental age of 12, but “Polly” asks this “atheist” a) why (like so many damned atheists) he has Jesus on the brain this much anyhow, and b) why he can’t get over himself:
But, is the birth of Christ really so precious to you? Can you not fuck like cute, secular, unmarried adults every other night of the year? You need cuddle-time on this one magical night, or the suffering is immense—even though you don’t remotely care about the holiday’s significance?
As a mature adult, there are those rare, important moments when you are asked to show up, and pretend. You are asked to play an elaborate game of make-believe, for the sake of someone from another planet who nonetheless is a good person and made more than a few sacrifices on your behalf. (…)
Sometimes love is about showing another human being every single part of you, and having that person accept and understand you completely. Other times, though, love is about caring enough about some insane, twisted, aggravating creature from another planet that you’re willing to show up and play along with their insane, twisted, aggravating alien games. Sometimes love is about getting in the car with your partner, and, as you drive for seven hours, saying to each other, “We are about to eat a steaming platter of shit. We are going to eat it and eat it and we’re going to act like it’s delicious.”
I was reminded of this:
It happened at Christmastime in 1886.
In France, young children left their shoes by the hearth at Christmas, for their parents to fill them with gifts. Thérèse should have outgrown this tradition by the age of 14, but she was the spoiled baby of a family who had lost their mother to cancer. Her elder sisters continued to leave presents in Thérèse’s shoes at Christmas, and she was still looking forward to the Christmas event.
As she climbed the stairs with her older sister Celine, Thérèse heard her beloved father say about the ceremony of shoes and gifts, “Thank goodness that’s the last time we shall have this kind of thing!”
Thérèse was hypersensitive, and had suffered from a terrible nervous illness only a few years before. She froze, for a moment, with horrified hurt feelings. Celine looked at her helplessly, and knew that Thérèse would probably be heartbroken over her father’s comments.
Thérèse remained calm. Something had happened. She said Jesus had come into her heart and converted her, taking her selfish immaturity and banishing it forever. She forgot the crying, walked downstairs, and exclaimed over the gifts in the shoes, as if she had never heard a word her father said.
Despite great opposition, Thérèse entered the convent the next year, and began the rapid spiritual growth for which she is famous.
Thérèse always referred to this as her “Christmas Conversion.” To one unfamiliar with Thérèse, it may seem an insignificant event. “So, a 14-year-old girl finally realized she was being a baby and ‘got over it.’ What’s the big deal?”
Thérèse would probably have agreed that the whole incident seemed small. For her that was the big deal. All the events recounted in her life were small. They were middle class, and seemingly insignificant. They were a “big deal” because Thérèse realized God himself was working his miracle of grace through the little everyday events of a very ordinary life. Thérèse recognized that in the midst of a 14-year-old girl making a step toward maturity, God’s grace was thundering through.