Putting Christ Back In Christmas
There it was, half constructed in the driveway ï¿½ a wooden manger box, built to exacting specs that my father had dug up through extensive research at some dumb library in Chicago.
In the back of the garage, a wooden loom for making woolen clothes ï¿½ another of Dadï¿½s projects. Mom was about halfway done making the bolts for this year and next week she planned on making the robes.
Itï¿½s August 2004 and Christmas ï¿½ my fatherï¿½s version. It’s ight around the corner. He is so into this Christmas thing – so embarrassing to neighbors and friends.
It started about three years ago. We were all in church on Christmas Eve and Dad had a revelation ï¿½ thatï¿½s what we call it around the house ï¿½ a revelation. He realized that Christmas, the current celebration of our Christmas holiday was being done wrong.
ï¿½December! December! No, No, Noï¿½ he shouted during the third verse of ï¿½O Holy Night.ï¿½
ï¿½We have to get home. Christmas in December! Itï¿½s for Pagans,ï¿½ he declared
We were whisked out of the church and Dad ran home in the old Saturn station wagon as fast as he could, ignoring intersections and stop lights along the way.
Leaving us all puzzled and a bit scared in the car ï¿½ he dashed from the car and into the house ï¿½ ambling the stairs two at a time. We sat in the car, still stunned.
Mother reached over and closed the driverï¿½s side door and we all made efforts to get out of the car ï¿½ me, my sister Annie and our little brother Jake ï¿½ 3 years old and still full of traditional Christmas wonderment, dressed in Christmas pajamas and wearing Santa Clause slippers.
We found Dad upstairs in his office, reading a deeply highlighted copy of ï¿½The Bible Code.ï¿½ The Code had become his tome, his book of books and rarely these days would he make a decision or settle on a plan of action for himself or the family without first checking it. Torn notepapers drooped from the edges of nearly every page and yellow Post-It notes were sticking out all over the top of the spine, providing him quick access to his new road map.
ï¿½The Bible is just part of Godï¿½s plan!ï¿½ he cried out. Itï¿½s all in HERE,ï¿½ he thrust his Code in the air. Tears were running down his face. He had a pencil and graph paper in his hand.
ï¿½We are celebrating the Messiahï¿½s birth on the wrong day! Canï¿½t you see, it is the wrong day! It is so simple. Why donï¿½t people take the time to study this tremendous book and get the REAL message of our savior!ï¿½
I looked at my older sister Annie. She was 14 and in all honesty it was a Christmas miracle just getting her off the cell phone and into church on Christmas Eve. If Jesus was born a 16-year-old beau-hunk, and she was afforded the chance to flirt with him, then perhaps she would be more eager to enjoy the holidays. But her idea of a good Christmas is a trip to the mall and congregating with her boy-crazy bunch of friends as they shop. Jesus was not part of her holiday plan.
I stared at Annie and she stared back. Dad, we were both thinking, had gone off the deep end.
He pulled us all by the hand and raced downstairs to the kitchen table. He had three bibles, his annotated Bible Code, a few notebooks with lots of scribbles and some graph paper and he began explaining how the Bible Code, when drafted onto a graph paper matrix, using the original Greek and Aramaic texts, meticulously detailed the exact date and time of the birth of Christ.
Mother was staring, jaw dropped and the rest of us didnï¿½t move. Dad had gone a bit mad. Worse this time than before when he realized a new Biblical source determined some iffy stock purchases that proved futile and expensive.
ï¿½Here we go again.ï¿½ I thought to myself ï¿½ giving Dad that old all-to-familiar smile of acceptance, tinged with some embarrassed regret.
ï¿½It all comes down to Rash Hashanah!.ï¿½ He shouted, using a telescoping pointer on a grease board full of statistical dates written in Hebrew and Aramaic.
Grease pen in hand he furiously flung dates, times, codes and cryptic markings across the board. Turning and staring each one of us down, I saw and excitement in his eyes that was just short of joyous and perhaps closer to maniacal.
ï¿½September, 11 the year BC! Jesus was born on 9/11!ï¿½
He was on fire now. Yellow highlighter in his mouth and three different colors of markers in his hands; the notes on the board were being applied furiously.
ï¿½Look, look, the matrix clearly illustrates that Joseph (Yosef) and Mary (Miriam or Miryam were in Bethlehem (Beit Lechem) and stayed in a succah, a stable.
Then Yeshua the Messiah came from heaven, to the earth, the manger or feeding trough is mentioned where Mary laid the baby after the birth. There is mention of Ruach Hakodesh (Holy Spirit) and the shepherds. It mentions the angels who announced the birth to the shepherds, and the star in the sky announcing His birth. All the details from the Gospels are present and there is probably much more in this matrix than I have shown, since it didn’t take me too long to develop it as is. ï¿½
ï¿½Dad, we know all that. If you had stayed in church just a few minutes more, Pastor Green would have covered it as well. It is the Christmas story.ï¿½ Annie said. She blew some more gum into a bubble and rolled her eyes.
ï¿½But wait, that is just some statistical groundwork to show that the basic crypt of the code is valid,ï¿½ he added.
ï¿½Now, review the basics of the code transliteration, and factoring in the addition of the modern day Roman calendar and its dominance over both the traditional Jewish calendar and the Greek. Now, we cannot simply say Yeshua was born exactly on September 11, 3 BC. But what do we know of the birth and the virgin conception? A human conception last 270 days or so. Letï¿½s back up from September 11, 3 BC, remaining mindful that 4 BC is a statistical leap year and then we get 254 days. That means 18 days backwards in December 4 BC, should be the exact date of the conception, factoring a 31-day month for December. We can then target the conception to December 13, 4 BC based on a 271-day average human gestation period for male babies. I should mention that the Hebrew word for pregnancy is “herayonï¿½ So, talking the results of the Bible Code, we can easily postulate:
hey resh yud vav nun.
Translating the Hebrew to the corresponding numerical value:
hey=5, resh=200, yud=10, vav=6, nun=50; or total=5+200+10+6+50=271
ï¿½Certainly, by now this should all be making senseï¿½? Dad explained.
I was baffled. Jake was eating a Band-Aid. Annie had picked up her cell phone and was just seconds away from dialing out. Hopefully she was calling for help.
Mom reached over and patted Dadï¿½s shoulder and handed him a paper towel to wipe his sweating brow.
ï¿½No, dear. Most of us donï¿½t understand any of this at all,ï¿½ she added.
Oops, I thought. She is just encouraging him now. This could go on for years. My eyes began wondering over to the Christmas tree and the presents awaiting my full attention.
Dad turned around now and looked at us; leaping over to the tree and announced, ï¿½This Family would be a God-like Family as we have always been, and would celebrate Christmas in a true Christian manner.ï¿½
I didnï¿½t like where this was going.
He began gathering the presents and announced that Christmas, the birth of Christ would be celebrated on 9/11 from now on ï¿½ to do otherwise is not honoring the savior.
Well, that was Christmas, 2001. The terrible terrorist attacks of 9/11 were still very fresh on everyoneï¿½s mind and Dad seemed to have taken it particularly hard. But he was no longer reading every word about it in the paper and no longer sitting blankly in front of Fox News for another clue as to how this happened to our nation.
Instead he found his solace in the Biblical Code and worked hard to get Godï¿½s message out as detailed in the cryptic lore which he compared to a fifth book of the Gospel in its importance to mankind. He preached, taught, professed and spoke to everyone and anyone that would listen
Since that day, our family has seemed to regress into some form of archaic Christian clan. Dad began insisting we learn Greek and Aramaic and we were enrolled in a Rabbinical Torah School to help us learn the Talmud.
Each August we begin preparations for Christmas. Dad builds a new and realistic manger and stable and mom lovingly crafts traditional and accurate robes and cloth for the manger scene. And each night on 9/11, he lights a bright star on the house and we reenact the manager scene, acted out exactly as it was depicted in the Bible Code.
During the month of September, it is as if our traditional Presbyterian family went Jewish. We celebrate Rosh Hashanah (because Mary and Joseph did) and we live ï¿½among the Jewsï¿½ for the entire month in our little Ohio suburb of Middleton.
I got to the point, eventually, where I enjoyed the robes and homemade sandals. It was kind of fun. Out among the ï¿½civiliansï¿½ – roughing it. We didnï¿½t have to bath or wear underwear or brush out teeth and except for the nativity scene, staged nightly the first ten days of the month on the front lawn, the whole thing was kind of fun.
Annie on the other hand didnï¿½t take it so well. The fights were epic. She was mortified to the point of tears and her mood this year really changed right around the middle of July when she realized her joyous summer days at the pool, where she worked as a lifeguard and wore the skimpiest little bikini she could find , would be end soon. Her life as a civilian would be traded in a few short weeks for robes and head coverings and a strict Hassidic observance of the Sabbath. At 17, she swore this was her last year at home and she was counting the days to her 18th birthday and a chance to leave.
Jake, well, Jake didnï¿½t know no any better. Now 6 years old, he was still full of mystery. He still got Christmas presents and Christmas ï¿½ although Gold, Frankincense and Myrrh themed gifts had started to run their course; the gifts came, only in September. Jake would get some of the neighborhood kids to come over and help him each fall as he watered and fed the mules and the animals Dad rented each year for the manger scene.
Life had taken on a new rhythm all its own.
That is, until Easter – – – but that is a whole different issue.
— Merry Christmas, 2004, RW.
Special thanks to George Saunders and Roy A. Reinhold (whoever you are, you delightful scholarly wack job.)