I thought it might be appropriate to write about this: Christmas.
I’ve read plenty of greeting cards, I’ve seen plenty of ads on church reader boards crying, He’s the Reason for the Season, but that doesn’t mean I’m all that great at recognizing the Christian aspect of Christmas–I’d like to be, but I’m not. Like Easter, Christmas has become more a holiday about family, and good food, and traditions like baking cookies and picking out trees and so on, for me–I grew up with Nativity scenes, sure, and we read the Christmas Story, and went to church sometimes on Christmas Eve, but somehow all of that was eclipsed by the more tangible, less boring, facets of the holiday.
Like presents. No getting around that one.
And I don’t feel all that guilty about this. Christmas has become so commercialized anymore that it’s not really a religious holiday, or at least it doesn’t feel like one to me, no matter how many pictures of the Baby Jesus show up in ads for Christmas sales, or how many times I get “Hark the Herald Angels Sing” stuck in my head by January 1, and if I wanted to celebrate it as a religious holiday, well, I’d have to go pretty far out of my way to make it not about food and toys and money.
Bugorama wrote a letter to the editor of the Bellingham Herald (read it here) suggesting that Christians who get all worked up about the word “Christmas” being replaced by “Holiday” in the Wal-mart winter sales might be better off spending the weeks preceding Christmas in church, celebrating Advent, rather than at the mall, and I think she’s got a great point.
In the Holiday vs. Christmas battle, I think both sides are being a bit silly (and by this battle, I mean the purging of religious Christmas carols from schools, the renaming of Christmas Break to Winter Break, the Happy Holidays override of Merry Christmas and so on). While I agree that names are important, and that it does matter how we label things, I also think it quite sad that all this energy is wasted on such a silly point. If you celebrate Christmas, fine–go celebrate it. If you’re into the Holidays, fine. Go celebrate them.
Try not to worry quite so much what your neighbor’s up to, that’s all I’m sayin’.
As for me, I celebrate Christmas, even though sometimes the meaning gets a little washed out in my travels from family to family and in my last minute dash to buy presents. This is something I would like to change. I think Bug’s suggestion of Advent is a good one–it would definately do me some good to spend the weeks before Christmas reflecting on the story of Christmas and preparing myself, really, to celebrate the holiday with a joyful (not stressed-out) spirit.
Of course, as my dad and step-mom say, my family also celebrates the birth of Santa.