Think & Write #136

Solving for X-mas

David entered the office of the math department of Devonport College.  On his desk was a stack of Christmas cards, all addressed to him.

“Nice,” David quietly said, as he began opening them.

All of the ones that he read were very thoughtful.  The last one, though, really caught his eye.  The message read “Merry X-mas, David!”

At this, David smiled.  This card was from Patrick Murphy, head of the math department.  Looking at the card again, David nodded.  Something clearly wasn’t right about the card.

“He forgot to solve for x….” David quietly said.

As David was looking at the card, Mr. Murphy looked down at David.  “Did you like my card?”

David nodded, and gave him a jovial smile.  “Yes, Mr. Murphy,” David told his boss.  “There is, however, one problem.  And we all know this in standard algebra.  You forgot to solve for x.”

Mr. Murphy frowned.  “What do you mean, David?”

David pointed at Mr. Murphy’s message  “Merry X-mas, David!”.  “You did not solve for x.  You left it without a variable.  And I’m pretty sure that you know what that variable is.”

Mr. Murphy nodded.  “Yes David.  I do.  But you see, I am not a Christian, so I don’t feel that we even need to worry about that message.”

David nodded, looking slightly troubled.  “I am very sorry to hear that, Mr. Murphy.  I just found it strange that you would write an ‘x’ where ‘Christ’ should be.”

“Well, religion is for the weak,” Mr. Murphy told him.  “A man like me don’t need religion.  Now if you would excuse me, I have a class to get to, and so do you.  This is the last day before the break, Mr. Silverman.  Let’s not begin it on a bitter note.  You have a good day.”

“Merry Christmas!” David shouted, as he left the room.

David, still having another 15 minutes, looked at the card again.  If Mr. Murphy insisted on keeping it as “X-mas”, he was going to change that.  He decided that he was going to solve for “X-mas”.  David wrote on the card, showing his work.  X = Christ.  After writing that, he wrote “Christmas” underneath “X-mas”.  Putting the card away, David sighed.  “You can’t spell Christmas without Christ,” he quietly muttered.

With that, David left the room, towards his first classroom.   This would be the last day that he would be teaching before Christmas break.  Just a few short days before Christmas.

______

©2012  K. L. Walker

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2 thoughts on “Think & Write #136

  1. “Xmas” is not a secular plan to “take the Christ out of Christmas.” “The usual suggestion is that ‘Xmas’ is … an attempt by the ungodly to x-out Jesus and banish religion from the holiday.” However, X stands for the Greek letter Chi, the starting letter of Χριστός, or “Christ” in Greek.

  2. After writing this, I looked up “X-mas”, and that’s exactly what it said.

    While “X-mas” can refer to Χριστός, I’m pretty sure that most people don’t know this.

    For those who don’t know that, it can mean the first thing that you suggested, as indicated in the story.

    But yes. I do see that there is more than one way to “solve for x”, considering that “x” can also mean “chi”….

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