The little boy was padded and bundled so much he looked more like a blue Nylon starfish with a stocking cap than a child.
But this little starfish boy waddled and toddled at that freaky-weird speed 2 year olds can sometimes get and he ran right up to touch the pretty red light.
His father came after to scoop him up and make sure his nose was wiped, but for a second there was nothing but the beautiful smile of a child who has found something pretty to touch. The eyes were wide in joy as the little starfish boy touched and touched that sparkling red light from the atheist A at Daley Plaza.
The big red A stood outside the Christkindlmarket German festival held each year in Daley Plaza. A stone’s throw from the nativity scene and where had earlier stood a Hanukkah display, the light-festooned vowel had been placed by the Freedom From Religion Foundation.
“A is for Atheist,” a few passersby would read from the sign next to the A, often with a giggle as they kept moving.
A few would stop and read the two explanatory signs, one explaining the A, one talking about how Christmas is based on previous solstice celebrations. (A fact the FFRF treat as a smoking gun but one that gets a big “No shit” from any theologian with a brain and a knowledge of Israeli shepherding techniques. They moved the party to winter. Whatcha gonna do?)
But a few would linger that cold night a few days before Christmas. A few would have quiet strolling conversations, asking each other questions that should be asked. I liked them a lot.
I liked the glühwein more.
Glühwein is a hot mulled wine they serve each year at Christkindlmarket as people bustle among the faux German village. People shop and laugh and eat sausage. They spend time with families and friends. They wish tidings of comfort and joy as the mustard from their weisswurst dribbles down their chin.
And that’s my reason for the season.
I love the ornaments and the songs and the happy warm feeling of whatever festivals we made to ward off seasonal affective disorder. I enjoy eating sausages and drinking glühwein at Christkindlmarket and watching George Bailey and Charlie Brown have their sweet moral victories as yes, I think I will have another cookie shaped like a tree.
I tell my family I love them. I tell my friends how much they mean to me. I deck the hell out of those halls and fa la the la la la.
You probably do too. Whether you consider yourself saved or a lucky coil of DNA, we’re probably spending the day the same way.
We have a moment we have culturally decided should be spent being noble and sweet and good. Baby from above or societal conceit — I don’t care why as long as charity donations go up and I get to watch the Griswolds.
This Christmas, let’s be like the little blue nylon starfish boy. He doesn’t care what sign the red light is on. He only cares that it’s beautiful.