And Santa as a jolly old man with his elves?
But how did it ever get hold of the incarnation?
It’s been one of the most successful ploys that the evil one has ever attempted. The goal? Obviously to distract us from the real thing. After all, who doesn’t want to be jolly?
But forget the diversion and distraction issue…let’s consider “jolliness” for a moment (If there is such a word). I’m not sure how a Brit responds to such sayings as those above in which the word jolly appears. He uses the word in other contexts, on non-Christmas occasions—for us Americans, the term seems to be reserved almost exclusively for Christmas. For the Brits, the word plays an intensive role: like when they say, “Have a jolly good time.”
When this intensive use occurs, there seems to be little problem understanding it—it simply means, “Have a very good time.” But a jolly old man saying “Ho ho ho,” is another matter. To be jolly seems to be happy, with a kind of roly-poly happiness. There is an element of giddiness-under-control as Santa leans back, slaps his belly, and utters his triple “Hos.” Beyond that, is there much more to it?
At any rate, reader let me wish you a jolly Incarnation Day! We should rejoice over it with near giddiness when we recognize what happened back there in Bethlehem so many years ago. Why are we so silent about it? Does Phillips Brooks’ hymn with the words “How silently, how silently the wondrous gift is given,” wrongly influence us? Or Silent Night? Was it silent with all of those angels singing? With that troop of wise men from “afar” (probably, Persia) with their camels, and all the hoopla about their arrival going on? Come on. It was a noisy, joyous, dramatic, day! One that ought to make us nearly jump for joy whenever we recognize what it’s all about—Emmanuel! God with us, in the Person of His Son to save us. Let’s be jolly about this for all of the right reasons this year!