“You boys hurry up and get those things put away. When you're done come inside, I have warm cookies and cocoa for you.” The 50 Year member laughed. “Sometimes she talks to me like I’m one of her sons.” Pudge laughed. "I think it’s because she knows you are a big kid at heart.” The old man smiled, "I hope it’s that, and she isn’t slipping. By the way Pudge, I appreciate you spending your last holiday from work taking down my Christmas decorations. I know I haven’t added any new ones in years but it feels like it takes twice as long as it did a few decades ago.”
“You're welcome Brother. But I hate to see all these decorations and the holidays go away. It’s weird, it seems like they arrive one day and then, BOOM, they're gone. It’s like they were never even here.” Pudge continued to roll up the string of Christmas lights. “I have been giving this a lot of thought, maybe it’s your influence on me, but the holiday season has made me think about Masonry.”
The 50 Year member chuckled. “So it’s my influence that makes you see the symbolism in things. I guess I should consider that a big honor!”, the old man said with a hint of sarcasm mixed with humor. “I guess that means you are listening to me and actually learning. So tell me how the holidays mix with Masonry. Is it the giving? The spirituality of these season?”
Pudge took in a deep, nervous breath, “Well, I’ve been thinking how the season is a lot like joining Lodge for a lot of guys. They petition a lodge and it seems like forever waiting for the news, the petition to be accepted, then for the interview process and then the ballot, until the day finally arrives. Your excitement continues to build with each passing day until the first holiday, or, well the day the degree arrives.All in a sudden there are celebrations, decorations hanging everywhere. You enjoy yourself and begin to prepare for the next one, then that day arrives and you begin to look to the last one, this time with a bit of trepidation because you aren’t sure what the new year or in this case the Master Mason degree will bring. Then the holiday arrives and the next day it’s all over! It’s been done and it’s time to return to normal life.”
“For some fellas it’s just like today. All of the decorations are gone. Gifts are put away and it’s like nothing ever happened. Not one sign of the holiday season is left, like it was a dream. They continue to live their normal lives with Masonry only just another memory. No more of an effect on their lives as a Christmas from years ago did. Or worse yet, something bad happens to them like bad degree work or becoming disillusioned with the Craft, and that bad moment makes them turn their back on the holiday celebration, never to celebrate it again. Like Scrooge in the old Dickens book."
The old man sat down the box of ornaments he was holding in his hands. He smiled as he looked at his young Brother. “Wow, I guess some of what I have said has been trapped between those ears. You really have given this subject some thought.” The 50 Year member stood erect. “My first thought, off the top of my head is, I think everyone has had a disappointing Christmas. I mean, think about when you were a kid and you didn’t get the present you wrote about in your letter to Santa. Or worse yet you told him about while you were sitting on his lap at the department store and he promised you that it would be under your tree. I think every person who has wanted something for a gift, Christmas or otherwise has been disappointed in something they have received. But then you move on hoping next year you will get what you want.”
Pudges breathing grew quicker and a sharpness appeared in his voice, “See! That’s it! These guys are walking because they don’t like the gift they are given. They realize that Santa isn’t real and then they quit celebrating all together. It is just sad.”
“It sure is sad, but let me ask you two things; One, are they sad about what they received, or two, are they disgusted that what they were searching for took longer than three days to magically appear? There is a big difference in the two.”
The old man continued, “Let me ask you this. If I were to buy you one of those plastic model kits of a car, would you prefer to receive it un-assembled in kit form or should I paint the car, add the decals and assemble it first?” Pudges brow furrowed. I guess I would want to put it together myself. It’s more fun that way.” “Okay." Replied the 50 Year member. “Lets say I went out and bought you a fancy tool box and filled it with every hand tool I could find. Would you expect me to come over to your apartment and use those tools to fix your car for you?” Pudge laughed and said “Are you kidding? Heck no! I might ask you to help but I want to do my own work!”
The old man smiled. ”I think you have answered your own questions. Freemasonry provides you the tools and the materials but you have to take what you are given and put it together yourself. What does it always say on a box with a new toy; Some Assembly required? We can be there for these men we can assist them, like the example about fixing your car, but we can’t do it for them. If that is what they are really looking for, to have the truth poured over their head like it’s a baptism, then sadly they will never be happy because they will continue to search but never find what they are looking for.”
“Honestly Brother that’s the gift that keeps on giving for the entire year, or in your case youngster, a lifetime, or at least what is left of my lifetime.” The old man said with a laugh.
Pudge retorted, "If you keep working so slow that won’t be long, as cold as it is out here.” with a smile on his face, "Lets get done. I’m ready for those cookies and cocoa your wife mentioned.”