Well, it’s here. I have friends who have been playing the tunes of winter festiveness since two seconds after trick-or-treating… the slew of red and green, blue and white, (and what have you) shiny and lighted things are blinking and glowing everywhere… in fact, the batteries are starting to die and the electricity bills are sky-rocketing. Everyone is especially grumpy and frustrated – that’s how you know it’s especially close. Yes, two days ’til Christmas and you can definitely grasp the spirit of it.
The perversion of Christmas extends beyond the the gross over-commercialism in this wildly-capitalistic society. This year, all of my favorite shows (a string of fantastic comedies on NBC) all poked fun at the religion of Christmas. Now, I am definitely capable of taking a joke and a realize there is MUCH about pop-American Christianity that more than deserves to be roasted, but this year the “joking” seems trite and intentionally caustic. It seemed that the theme was that people who find the birth of Christ to be important are simpletons, hypocrites, and incapable of celebrating the “goodness of mankind” to the fullest.
I know, I know, I know, that I should expect the world to hate God, and therefore Christ and his bumbling followers. Jesus was very clear that he was hated and his true followers, therefore will be hated also. But this doesn’t mean that I can’t be a bit annoyed that in a place as “tolerant” as America, it is actually becoming offensive to say “Merry Christmas”. Christmas, after all, is the actual holiday. I don’t get annoyed that Muslims celebrate the month of Ramadan. I certainly am not offended that the Jewish population celebrates Hanukkah. If I were with or near a group of either who were celebrating, I would not be offended is someone wished me good tidings related to the respective holiday.
I suppose we deserve it though. I don’t like Christians who get their panties in a bunch (a favorite expression of mine) and demand that the government, or someone important, enforce our “right” to say “Merry Christmas”. Yes, it is bothersome that it has become offensive to wish a happy holiday by the name of the actual holiday, but we have so embraced the American noise that has been layered on top of the true purpose of Christmas that we don’t really deserve to demand others to respect “our” holiday. We love Santa Day, and Goodwill to Mankind Day, and What Did You Get ME Day as much as those who don’t have a reason to cherish the birth of Christ. In fact, I almost wish that we would just surrender Dec. 25 altogether and let it be Consumerism Day, and celebrate Christ’s birth at a time closer to when he was possibly actually born. Afterall, the Christ’s Mass was proposed by the Roman Catholic Church, not by Christ himself!
I’ve been mentally swirling around all these competing thoughts and feeling a bit at a loss for explanation this year, mostly because my oldest son is 2 and I now feel the responsibility to begin the conversation about why we have Christmas. It’s hard to explain that we are celebrating Jesus’ birthday, who is God’s son… these are very intangible (albeit important!!!!!) beings! It’s much easier for him to grasp the Santa idea. After all, he sat on his lap at Disneyland and will probably get the toy he asked him for. So weird. I think after this year I will be over the Santa thing and will explain Santa as a sort of game most kids like to play, in honor of the kind, historical St. Nicholas. But then there’s the fact that we do have a Christmas tree… do I can that too or just explain that it’s just a weird American tradition and it’s pretty and festive? I can’t make sense of it all.
I personally love all of my childhood Christmas memories. However, I can’t decide if my desire to impart a similar experience to my children will be benign and fun or detrimental to their spiritual health. I suppose that no matter what we make of Christmas, it is most important that I teach my kids that at some point, God, the creator of all that is, who is justly wrathful toward mankind who spurns his sovereignty, did send his son, Jesus, who being God, humbled himself to live as a human, to show us how to live, and to ultimately die as a substitutionary death for those who will believe, and conquered death and sin with might and finality. The coming of Jesus is the incarnation of a most holy, priceless, and mighty grace and I beg God that my kids will one day understand that. It’s going to take more than one short season of the year to explain all that… and I plan to make a habit of it… so I guess Santa, trees, lights, family dinners, etc. will eventually fade into the background when compared to the daily pursuit of knowing God.
Ok, I feel better about it now.