The holidays are approaching. I’m not talking about decorating, partying and shopping. I was thinking of holidays as the “holy days” they once were. Which led to another thought: what if Jesus Christ lived in Forest Park?

I’m not sure which part of town Jesus would call home, but for sure he would live with his mother in a fixer-upper frame house. Being a carpenter, Jesus would have no problem replacing the front porch and adding a back deck. He would get great satisfaction from updating his home, when he wasn’t helping a neighbor hang drywall or strip woodwork. Jesus would be one of those handy neighbors you could call when the sink is stopped up.

Jesus wouldn’t attend just one church in Forest Park. He’d visit them all, including the nearby synagogues. He wouldn’t dress up for church; in fact he might have some oil on his hands from jumping someone’s car on Sunday morning. Jesus would have only a modest income but he’d never drop less than a twenty in the collection basket. He’d help church people behind-the-scenes, giving rides and bringing over meals, and he’d always be available to set up, or take down, folding chairs.

Jesus wouldn’t espouse a particular party but he’d be politically active. He’d help people register to vote and drive them to the polls if necessary. He’d attend village council meetings and probably run for the library board. He would even buy a vehicle sticker for his compact car. No gas guzzlers for Jesus, who prefers public transportation and walking.

If he wanted to perform a miracle to demonstrate his divinity, Jesus could simply walk across the Eisenhower Expressway. Parting that high-speed traffic would be more impressive than the Red Sea miracle.

Jesus would have at least 12 male friends. Chances are they’d all be on the same softball team. Jesus wouldn’t be much of a tavern guy, but he’d be everyone’s favorite designated driver.

If Jesus needed to be alone, he could stroll through the cemeteries. It would probably remind him of his 40 days in the desert, when the devil offered to turn the stones into bread.

Jesus would be well educated and would sometimes give talks on topics of social injustice, like about how the white men kicked all the Indians out of Forest Park. If you asked Jesus a question, he’d probably tell you a story. You’d be sitting there wondering what he was talking about but afterward you’d get the point.

Jesus would help out at the Community Center. He’d visit the elderly at Altenheim and the Forest Park Pavilion. He’d even bring McDonald’s to prisoners in the Forest Park lock-up. He’d hang with the homeless. And if he saw a bunch of kids lounging on a corner, he’d let them rake his leaves for a little walking around money.

Jesus would speak out against injustice and oppose overcrowding from too many condos. Some people would consider him a pain in the neck.

As for the holidays, Jesus would give out full-sized candy bars on Halloween. He’d host at least one stranger on Thanksgiving. And he wouldn’t go crazy on Christmas decorations: just a simple wooden crèche on his lawn, handmade by Forest Park’s finest carpenter.

John Rice

John Rice is a columnist/novelist who has seen his family thrive in Forest Park. He has published two books set in the village: The Ghost of Cleopatra and The Doll with the Sad Face.