As if by magic, annual Christmas party returns | The Latte Guy | Dec. 18

Man is the only animal that laughs and weeps, for he is the only animal that is struck with the difference between what things are and what they ought to be.

– William Hazlett

I survived Black Friday. I withstood Cyber Monday. I resisted the urge to wait in line at Wal-Mart to purchase this year’s equivalent of the Tickle Me Elmo doll.

Despite doing my best avoid the swirling vortex of mindless holiday consumption, I have found myself caught up in the holiday spirit. The signs of the season are everywhere.

Last week, PNC Wealth Management announced that purchasing all the items named in the carol “The Twelve Days of Christmas” would cost you $87,403 this year, up just 1 percent from last year.

The biggest single increase in any one item was the 43 percent jump in the cost of the Five Golden Rings.

Oddly enough, the single most expensive item on this year’s list is the Seven Swans-A-swimming.

They’ll set you back $5,250 this year even if you order them online. Shipping large birds remains a pricey proposition, just as propositioning pricey birds can also be expensive. Just ask Tiger Woods.

Another sign that something special is in the air is the fact that Susan Boyle’s debut record, “I Dreamed a Dream,” entered the British album charts in the top spot this month.

The album has sold more than 410,000 copies since its release at the end of November. In the United States, preorders for Ms. Boyle’s debut album were the largest in Amazon Music’s history. If you don’t know who Susan Boyle is, shame on you.

Finally, and perhaps most predictably, a Massachusetts woman named Mary Jo Coady recently discovered an image of Jesus Christ on her iron.

I’ve seen the image, and as far as I can tell, the brownish residue on the bottom of Ms. Coady’s iron is a dead ringer for the Son of God.

All of these omens and portents can mean only one thing: It’s Christmastime.

Christmas is a uniquely Christian holiday, much like Arbor Day is a uniquely Druid event and the Rose Bowl is a uniquely Trojan celebration. Or was.

To celebrate Christmas is to celebrate the birth of a man many people believe to be the Son of God. It may surprise you to know that many Christians have trouble with Jesus.

They want to believe in an all-powerful and all-knowing God, but are not quite sure what to make of a long-haired vagabond who was created through an act of immaculate conception, born in a barn, lived in obscurity for most of his life, did a little teaching and healing, was betrayed by one of his own, had his moment of fear and doubt, and was brutally murdered by one of the most powerful occupying forces the world has ever known.

All in all, that’s a pretty meager biography for someone referred to as the King of Kings and the Prince of Peace. No wonder some Christians have reservations about the divinity of Jesus.

Me, I’ve never had any problem with Jesus or the whole Son of God thing.

In fact, I never thought Jesus was all that complicated a historical or religious figure. He went where he was supposed to go, he stayed where he was needed, and he did what needed to be done.

He carried little with him except a rag-tag group of disciples, a pair of sandals and maybe a clean shirt or two, sort of like Gandhi, but with better hair.

He seemed to want desperately for the world to be a better place, and spent what little time he was allotted on Earth trying to convince people that one day the meek, the just, the generous and the merciful would inherit the earth, and that when they did, it would be lovely if the world was something that someone might actually want to inherit.

Although no one has actually seen him in over two millennia (excepting perhaps Ms. Coady’s iron), he still commands the allegiance of millions of people throughout the world.

Rome, the mighty empire that killed him? It’s been dissolved for more than 1,500 years. So whether you are celebrating the birth of a mythological figure, the doomed star of a charming but tragic folktale, or joyous evidence of God’s presence on Earth, I hope you find something to celebrate this season.

Merry Christmas.

Tom Tyner, an attorney for the Trust for Public Land, is author of “Skeletons From Our Closet,” writings on the island’s latte scene.

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