Sunday May 19, 2013
Christmas in July? Bah Humbug!D. Marietta Williams for Salem-News.com
Christmas in July? Could it work? Of course it can. It can work in every month, in every day, in every hour.
(WASHINGTON DC) - July finds me in one of the biggest churches in Washington, D.C. during their First Annual Children’s Book Fair. All around me authors are selling books: some teaching children about business and saving money; others about self-esteem; another about a girl’s entrance into puberty; a few titles about bullying. Books were being grabbed up in eager little hands with the willing pockets of their parents. Everyone was selling books. Everyone except me. My novel was about the birth of Christ seen through the eyes of an eleven-year-old boy. Adults loved the story-line, loved the different point of view to a familiar story, but they put the book down and walked away. Here I was in a church and totally baffled. Why wasn’t Christ selling? Then it came to me. Maybe people aren’t ready for a story of the birth of Christ in the month of July. Maybe Christmas is only for December and December alone. Christmas in July, for some, may just be ‘Bah Humbug’.
I have to admit when I hear or see anything about Christmas before October, I cringe. It’s way too early to even begin thinking of the holiday and buying those gifts for the family. I remember relishing as a child the decorated shop windows with Santa’s elves wrapping gifts while a toy train ran under the branches of a Christmas tree decked with all the trimmings. In November, great. In July, no way! But apparently retailers believe July is the perfect time to sell Christmas—they had to come up with some excuse for holding a sale, any sale, between July 4th and Labor Day. This is the time consumer spending drops and stores find their income decline proportionately. Christmas in July sales can be found everywhere and cable stations are showing classic Christmas movies. Yes, in July. Bah Humbug indeed. Who started this mess in the first place!
Believe it or not a girl’s summer camp is to blame. In July of 1933, Camp Keystone decided to lift the spirits of the children following the end of their school season. They decided on the best spirit-boosting theme all children loved. They bought a Christmas tree, exchanged gifts with good-old Saint Nick looking on. Christmas in July was such a success it became their tradition. But Christmas in July didn’t become a national phrase until Hollywood’s 1940 movie aptly named Christmas in July about a young man who thinks he has won $25,000 and proceeds to buy presents for the whole town. Washington, D.C. was not to be left out. Calvary Baptist Church in 1945 held annual Christmas Presents in July for their worldwide missions to collect, package, and send gifts to children in time for Christmas. The nation’s capital has another feather in their cap. A non-profit group called Christmas in April…yes, April!...takes a group of volunteers of all ages and faiths to work on dilapidated homes of low income families and seniors as well as those persons with disabilities. I’ve seen members build ramps out back doors in impossible spaces, plaster and paint rooms in houses even giving a family a free shed for the backyard. Maybe Christmas in July is not so bad after all especially if the idea is to help others.
The spirit of Christmas was alive just yesterday. I was in line at the check-out counter when the clerk asked the lady in front of me if her items were for a party. She said it was a cook-out for abused children. With that, the clerk called over the manager and, lo and behold, the woman got all her goods free.
Christmas in July? Could it work? Of course it can. It can work in every month, in every day, in every hour. Christmas has no time boundaries because the spirit of Christmas lives in our very hearts. It’s truly not what we buy, what we see in store windows but what we do with what God has given us. Blessing others even if it is just a kind word is what Christmas in July, and always, is all about. How will you give someone a Merry Christmas this July?
As for me, I will be attending another book festival this July. I will set up my table with my novel about the birth of God’s son in full view for all to see. And wait. Because Christ will sell.
D. Marietta Williams’ passion is breathing new life into time-honored biblical stories by writing them through the back story, using different points of view. She is the artistic director of the Asbury Performing Arts Theatre in Washington, D.C. For more information about Williams and her new book, Andrews’ Gift and the Untold Miracles in Bethlehem, please visit her website: http://www.dmariettawilliams.
D. Marietta Williams is the artistic director of the Asbury Performing Arts Theatre in Washington, D.C. She has written, directed, and produced numerous plays including Judas: What Was He Thinking?, Joseph & Mary: A Love Story and The Honorable Josiah Henson, which toured the Washington, D.C. Metropolitan Area before ending its run at the Uncle Tom’s Cabin Historic Site in Ontario, Canada.
Williams’ passion is breathing new life into time-honored biblical stories by writing them through the backstory using different points of view. As an actor, she toured with the Negro Ensemble Company of New York City in their production of Ceremonies in Dark Old Men. Williams also serves on the board of directors of Beyond Mask Expressions, a division of the Art and Drama Institute,Inc., where therapy through the arts is provided for adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities. When she is not lounging on a beach in the Caribbean, Williams can be found walking her toy poodles through Rock Creek Park.
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