December 3, 2013

Mark Millican: Advent can be an adventure

Black Friday.

Small Business Saturday.

Cyber Monday.

It’s hard to remember — did we take off last Thursday for an actual day of Thanks-giving?

I know, I know. A case could be made it’s hypocritical for someone in the newspaper business whose salary is partially paid by advertisers to take them to task for heralding that shopping season is underway. But it does seem we overlook — maybe not actually forget — the true meaning of Thanksgiving and Christmas in our rush to get those shopping days started sooner and sooner.

For example, we were hit with the dire news recently that not only would prime shopping days be fewer since Turkey Day came so late in the month, but the recent government shutdown would knock projected overall retail sales off by 2 percent.


The worst example of shopping fever happened in Long Island, N.Y., when a worker at a large retail store was trampled to death as the doors opened the day after Thanksgiving. Then shoppers became angry when other store employees and emergency personnel tried to establish a safe zone to help the man.

Black Friday, indeed.

As John Stonestreet pointed out last week in a BreakPoint.org commentary on Advent season, sometimes we get to feeling like Charlie Brown when he cried out to Linus in the TV classic, “A Charlie Brown Christmas,” “Can’t anyone tell me what Christmas is all about?”

And Linus’ response, reciting the story of the Baby Jesus from the Book of Luke, was classic — and extraordinary — television viewing. A documentary several years ago on the success of “Peanuts” told how Charles Schulz fought Hollywood producers to keep the biblical story in the cartoon special — and won. After all, he was the author of the comic strip and evidently believed the Author of the Bible.

Stonestreet opined that the diverse characters in the Advent story (from the Latin “adventus” for arrival, signaling the Christmas season is nigh) shared a common bond. Mary, Elizabeth, Zacharias, Joseph, the shepherds, the wise men, Anna and Simeon should all have been aware of the Old Testament prophecies of the coming Messiah, and realized God’s promises of old were coming true in their midst — in stunning detail.

If we can get that perspective, Stonestreet continued, that all this was happening as something God had planned and spoke through his prophets about for thousands of years, then we too can get excited. And why not? Just reading the angel Gabriel’s words  to Mary — “With God, nothing will be impossible” — broadens our horizons and fills us with hope and excitement for the future.

It’s really up to us, isn’t it? The wonder of Christmas, I mean. Aside from the TV specials — animated or otherwise — plus the decorations, caroling, Christmas dinners and parties, and gifts, surely it would behoove us to read the first two chapters in Luke and Matthew, share the passages with our families and seek out those who have much less than we do. In other words, live out the Christmas story ourselves.

Perhaps I’m a dreamer, but I envision Jesus saying to us all, “Share my love with someone this special season.” As Linus would conclude, “That’s what Christmas is all about, Charlie Brown.”


Text Only
  • Tax holiday weekend is perfect time to shop

    August means children across the state are headed back to school, and for parents that means it’s time to buy new shoes and clothes for children who have outgrown their old ones. It means it’s time to buy new school supplies, and it may even mean it’s time to get a child a new computer to do their school work.

    July 30, 2014

  • "We’ve had a great ride"

    For 60 years, the Green Spot has been a part of Dalton. It survived long after most other locally owned grocery stores in the area had folded to competition from big chain grocery stores and to big box super stores.

    July 29, 2014

  • Charles Oliver: Traveler from a district in Columbia?

    Jim Gray was traveling out of Orlando International Airport when a Transportation Security Administration officer tried to stop him from boarding his plane.

    July 29, 2014

  • Letter: Children are not the enemy

    We recently read somewhere that our country is at war, not with another nation but with one another.

    July 29, 2014

  • Ensuring the joy of reading

    They’re little, they’re libraries, and best of all, they’re free.

    July 28, 2014

  • Move carefully, but soon

    No one intended for it to happen. No one had any bad motives.
    But during a period of 40 years or more, quite a few people didn’t do enough planning, didn’t have enough foresight to see what all of the development in Dalton would do.

    July 27, 2014

  • Local school systems must bear costs of federal immigration failure

    No word. No warning. Little help.
    That’s what Dalton Public Schools officials received from the federal government when it dropped 30 Central American students into local classrooms last school year.

    July 26, 2014

  • Sacrifices worth honoring

    Members of the Dalton City Council were recently approached by representatives of the local chapter of the Military Order of the Purple Heart with a request to declare Dalton a Purple Heart City. Council members indicated they will approve the request.

    July 24, 2014

  • We must do better

    The numbers tell a sad tale.
    Registered voters: 36,843.
    Cards cast: 5,307.
    That means the turnout for Tuesday’s runoffs in Whitfield County was a measly 14.4 percent, according to unofficial results from the Whitfield County elections office.

    July 23, 2014

  • Letter: Control immigration

    Thousands are starting to pour into our country, and things are getting personal. Why would we end up the bad guys if we turn away children who aren’t ours? How does it make us better people to let one man steal from our children and stand by and do nothing?

    July 23, 2014