A Pink Pig – and Christmas
I grew up in Atlanta, GA. Every Thanksgiving night, my family and I would drive downtown to watch choirs perform on the Bridgeway of Rich’s Department Store which spanned Forsythe Street, just before the great tree was illuminated. This was all well and good, but not why I got excited. It meant for me that it was now possible to ride The Pink Pig.
In 1948, Rich’s Department Store began a quirky tradition of having a small “train” attached to the ceiling of its toy department that allowed children to ride above the store on a 10-minute adventure. When the trip was over, every child was given a sticker that read “I rode the Pink Pig at Rich’s”. I loved my sticker and kept it on until my mother would finally convince me it would no longer stick to my clothes.
The Pink Pig was, for me, an experience of what the incarnation means. It was joyful, it was invigorating and it made me feel fully alive. It helped me imagine what was possible. And the memories of the ride still stick with me.
This year, as we at Church Health celebrate our first Christmas in an old Sears retail and distribution center, I have imagined what it would be like for the Pink Pig to be alive here, riding along our 20-foot ceilings. While I do not intend to try to bring the pig back to life (it was retired years ago and moved to the Atlanta Historic Society), what I do hope is that we can embrace the spirit of being fully alive that the experience of riding the pig gave to me and thousands of other children.
While these days, Christmas in the secular world has taken on a deep sense of consumerism, those feelings soon fade. The money that may be saved from the Christmas tax cuts will not bring us true joy. That will only come from engaging in the experience of God with Us that the incarnation brings with it.
In the end, we must fully realize that John’s gospel is a true message of Christmas:
In the beginning was the Word…
God has always been with us, and our charge is to recognize God’s presence now and always. We do not need to hope that all will be well, nor do we need to rely on luck or our own might to make life meaningful; we just need to look within to recognize that God has always been in charge and that continues to be the case.
In our medical clinic, not a day goes by that we don’t see patients who feel despondent. We often don’t have the medicine that will cure their disease, but what we can offer is the hope that comes from knowing that God’s presence is the most powerful healing balm there is. That is the meaning of Christmas that is not just one day of the year but is with us at every turn.
It is a challenge for me to keep this thought forever present in my heart and mind. But I am certain that working to do so is what will bring us joy and peace, both this Christmas and for every day of our lives.