I Planned To Steal Christmas, But Learned About Humility Instead

The last time I visited my son and his family in Colorado, my five-year-old grandson and I were sitting at the kitchen table, pretending to be Grinches.

We were making elaborate plans to steal the Who’s Christmas, complete with a detailed map pinpointing the location of each house we planned to attack when I happened to glance out the window.

Quick, ” I told my grandson, “get your shoes on.

There was a huge skid loader rumbling up the street. It stopped two houses away from us. Watching heavy machinery trumps planning to steal Christmas any day.

We swiftly donned shoes and jackets and, with my husband in tow, raced to the site where the skid loader sat.

The neighbors were having a new roof installed, and the skid loader was lifting a large bundle of shingles and other roofing materials and placing them on the roof, where four men waited to unload it.

An older man, obviously the supervisor, watched from the yard.

We viewed the process with rapt attention as the roofers speedily transferred the materials from the outstretched tongs of the skid loader to the roof.

Then the man who was driving the skid loader, who might have been the supervisor’s son, got into a pickup truck with the older man and prepared to drive away, while the other four men set about installing the new roof.

Before I continue with this story, let me fill you in on some important details.

The two men in the pickup truck were white.

The four men on the roof were Hispanic. They were playing music while they worked – the lively, accordion-y Mexican kind of music that just makes you want to tap your toes.

As the men in the truck passed by the spot where my grandson, husband, and I were standing, the younger man stopped the truck and addressed us. “Enjoy the music,” he sneered sarcastically. He obviously thought that because he and I shared the same skin color, we would also share the joke disparaging the style of music coming from the roof.

I gave him my best I-am-not-amused stare that I learned from 30+ years of being a high school teacher, waited for the requisite four beats, then icily replied “Thank you. We will enjoy it.” He smirked and gunned the truck down the road in response.

Humility,” (my word for the year), I thought. “Servant’s heart,” I thought. “Reflect God’s love,” I thought.

What a jerk,” I thought.

Here is the thing about humility – it doesn’t mean you must accept unacceptable behavior. It doesn’t mean that you tolerate the intolerable, and racism is absolutely intolerable.

Photo by Kelly Lacy on Pexels.com

Christians look to the verses from Matthew “If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also” and Luke “Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you” for guidance about how to treat those who are unkind or even downright hostile.

These verses, however, do not tell us to be doormats.

It is true, we are supposed to love our enemies, to respect the humanity and the weakness we see in them, failings we all have in common. But, as Anne Lamott says, it doesn’t “mean unconditional acceptance of their crazy behavior.

Even though it may be easier to ignore offensive  behavior, allowing others to continue acting in a deplorable manner without pushing back gives them tacit permission to continue.

Standing up for ourselves and for others allows us to set realistic boundaries and promote justice.

When advocating decency, if we are forgiving rather than vengeful, and respectful rather than angry, we prevent  resentment from growing in our own heart.

Back at the roofing site, oblivious to any tension between the adults, my grandson began dancing to the music.

His dance consisted of first hopping on one foot then the other, followed by a series of cartwheels, and ended with him running around in circles, arms outstretched, until he collapsed on the grass. I clapped along with the music and enjoyed the show.

When he completed his dance we waved goodbye to the men working on the roof and went home to resume our Grinchy plotting.

This time, our hearts perhaps lightened by the music and dancing, the Grinches decided not to steal Christmas after all. They decided to help Santa deliver presents to the Whos instead.

Even Grinches, it turns out, can have behavior made better by love.

 

You can find the places I link up here.

 

86 comments

  1. Amen, Laurie! What a fantastic story you’ve told and lesson you’ve given here. We can all can use a big dose of love when it comes to our behaviors and outlooks. May we always treat others as we would like to be treated. Blessings!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Great story of how pervasive racism is in our society, and how our future generations haven’t learned to treat others as less. I love the joy your grandson displayed in his dance. We should all enjoy our differences with that much unbridled enthusiasm.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. This is such a wonderful story. What a great example for your grandson. What jerks those guys were, for their views and for assuming you shared them. I love how you’ve broken down the difference between being humble and being a doormat. Its easy to get walked all over when trying to keep the peace, but complacency against racism is too dangerous.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. That smirking, engine-gunning young man was displaying a feeble attempt to ward off the Teacher’s Look. But you and I know the TL gets past all such paltry defenses. Well done. And your grandson’s dancing was the grace note 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Sweet story with a great moral. I agree. I am humble, but I’m not a pushover. I stand up for what is right, so I like your teacher-y response to the morons in the truck. Give ’em heck, Teach!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Those are troubling scriptures to decipher when to turn that cheek, but your explanations are on point. I cannot understand how people can be so blantantly, rude and mean to others. I may pray for them because they are being evil, but still will call someone out for bad behavior and especially hatred of any kind.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Oh, thank you for sharing this story. Bless your grandson! I also love the point you made on humility. It is definitely not about being a doormat and it is a must that we all stand up for ourselves. Thanks for the inspiration.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Laurie,
    I love this! I can just see your grandson dancing to the festive music! I agree, the Bible does not tell us to be doormats, but a kind word CAN turn away wrath. I love how God gives us life lessons and “refreshers” amidst the most unusual circumstances. Thanks for sharing this beautiful story of humility winning the day!
    Blessings,
    Bev xx

    Liked by 1 person

  9. This takes SO MUCH PRACTICE for me, Laurie. Like…I know it in my BRAIN. And I believe I know it in my HEART. But the rest of me….like my mouth and my facial expressions and my grip and my jaw…they don’t get the memo as fast. I suppose that’s where the aforementioned Practice comes in.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. What a sweet story, Laurie! I could just imagine your grandson dancing and flipping around with childlike enthusiasm! And you bring up a very important point and contrast. How do we show humility when others act in arrogant and hateful ways? I try to keep Jesus’ example in mind, and He wasn’t always smiling and joking with those who were arrogant and hateful. Thanks for this thought-provoking post, my friend!

    Liked by 1 person

  11. It’s amazing the dumb things people say and the dumb attitudes they have. I agree, turning the other cheek doesn’t mean never speaking out about what someone is doing wrong, as Jesus demonstrated in His life on earth.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Hi Laurie, You title gave me pause. What is it about little boys and watching heavy machinery? Something in their DNA. 😊 I will not look at the word “Humility” in the same way after reading your post. Forgiveness…..dancing…….behaviour made better by love. I appreciate your new take on an age old message. A great post! ❤️

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Hi Laurie – it’s so sad to see people with such disdain in their hearts isn’t it? I love that your grandson could enjoy the beauty of the music and that acceptance and joy was the end result. I think delivering happiness instead of stealing it, wins every time. Modelling how Jesus would have responded is always the right way to go x

    Liked by 1 person

  14. The hatred and racism has to stop – the wink, wink … you’re one of us has to stop. I am not a citizen as you know, but I thought I learned this is a melting pot and that is what is supposed to be unique. The words written on the Statue of Liberty – oh, perhaps they don’t count anymore, or one day they will be covered over in graffiti. I like this type of music too – there is nothing nicer than a serenade by a mariachi band. For years in Downtown Detroit, they had a different ethnic festival every weekend. Hart Plaza was a place of joy – free music Friday through Sunday, you could try out different fare for whatever festival was that weekend. The good old days I guess.

    Liked by 1 person

    • That’s a good way to put it, Linda – “wink, wink – you’re one of us.” The whole “give us your tired, your poor” seems to have been replaced by “I’ve got mine, the heck with the rest of you.” Exactly what Jesus preached on the Sermon on the Mount, as my oldest son likes to say! Not!!! Those festivals sound wonderful. Too bad they don’t happen anymore.

      Liked by 1 person

  15. Ah racism ..it runs so deep ..I loved how you replied him back and I especially loved the part where he enjoyed the music ..may the coming generations be oblivious to caste, creed, colour, gender, religion nationality …these superficial boundaries which destroy humanity

    Liked by 1 person

  16. What a wonderful grandmother you are, and role model too. I love your thought process too, and the way you wrote this. “Humility, I thought…what a jerk, I thought” Your humanity and honesty. Sometimes the things we think are not attractive, but they are very human. I appreciate the way you brought scripture into this topic and engaged it. We are not to be doormats, and we are to be part of seeking justice. What you did in those moments made a difference to your grandson, though he may not know it yet, and for those roofers too.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Michele. There are many times when I should be thinking something humble but I can’t muster up humble thoughts. I am human and fallible. As we all are. I hope my grandson will seek justice. With a name like “Atticus”, it would seem likely! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      • You probably know that there was a time, in the early days of our country when children were given name to live up to. Wish I could say that I learned that in a history class. There was a movie starring Elizabeth Montgomery, a young EM, and she named her son Resolve. Understanding our humanity, even when we are not proud of our thoughts and attitudes, is an important part of the journey!

        Liked by 1 person

  17. Such a beautiful example of standing up for what’s right, Laurie. I often tell people who talk about turning the other cheek not to forget the Jesus who cleared out the temple! We’re called to stand up and speak out, not to sit down and be popular!

    Liked by 1 person

  18. I missed you on Life This Week but now caught up here with Lovin Life Linky. I get so annoyed inside when someone – by appearance/ skin colour – wants to lump me with them. Oh, no. Do not even go there but it can be very hard. We have taught in communities of Aboriginal Australians and they are delightful people who teach us about family! So, ignorant person, do not assume anything about me! Denyse.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I don’t know what happened to my Life This Week link-up. I thought I posted it there. I must be losing it! I will be there next week for sure! So true – I don’t like to be lumped in with the bigoted.

      Liked by 1 person

  19. Laurie, I loved this post! I enjoyed your exchange with the guy in the truck (he deserved every bit of it) and the description of your grandson’s dancing!! Best of all I loved the way you spoke about humility. It is wearisome to be preached at by some Christians who feel that to be humble you must take whatever is said, and suffer unkind treatment in the bargain, to “turn the other cheek”. You hit the nail on the head, and I appreciate that! Jesus should be our example for dealing with such individuals and I don’t recall being a doormat in His style.

    Liked by 1 person

  20. Amen, Laurie! I love your response. Sometimes it’s hard to know how to handle situations. Thanks for sharing Anne Lamott’s quote that it doesn’t “mean unconditional acceptance of their crazy behavior.“ We can set our boundaries and still be loving.

    Liked by 1 person

  21. What a wonderful story. I really enjoyed reading about your experience and could picture it all going down in my mind- even the teachers “look” on your face!!

    Liked by 1 person

  22. I loved reading that your grandson was dancing to the music. In his mind there was joy to be found and no worries about race or ethnicity. Thanks for linking up and stay well.

    Liked by 1 person

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