Christmas is my favorite holiday, bar none. My grandmother always told me that giving gifts to others at Christmas was our way of giving gifts to Jesus to honor his birthday. I loved that idea. After Thanksgiving, I always sit down with the list of people I want to gift and then shop to get the best gifts for my loved ones that I can. For those I don’t get actual gifts we give flocks of chickens, or complete bee hives, or save acres of tropical forest. I want Jesus to be pleased with my gifts in his name.
House and tree decorating occurs shortly before Christmas. A little grog, a little tinsel on the tree, a little grog, an ornament or two carefully placed on the most beautiful tree we could find in the forest (or more recently in the storage unit). And, if a little snow drifts down as we decorate, it only adds to the mystery and enchantment of the event. The stocking gifts are put out the night before Christmas for we know that we are playing Saint Nicholas.
And, on Christmas morning all is magical and the living room glows with the tiny lights on the tree as sleepy children (okay, grown up children now) wander in wide-eyed at the mystical sight of gifts, and lights, and tree, and fairy dust, anxiously waiting to find their own gifts and see what St. Nick has left for them. Us grown-ups sip coffee and watch the birthday celebration. Then off to church to give thanks and celebrate a holy feast day. Later, food and wine and friends come for the feast and by the end of the day everyone knows that Jesus has been honored and feted on his birthday!
But today? Christmas starts in September in stores and ads and circulars. Some stores and homes put out the Christmas trees and lights before Hallow’een or Thanksgiving. Stores have “Christmas Sales” in the beginning of October and favorite items are sold out in a few weeks. Black Friday (the day after Thanksgiving) is one horrendous mess of manic people camping out in front of stores at 4:00 a.m. to grab the best merchandise for the lowest price. The commercialism is an abortion of a Christian holy day. It makes my heart ache.
And, so, I say, Christmas as it exists today has to end. Jesus is not pleased. People are not pleased. Non-Christians are making a laughing stock of Christmas by making it something it isn’t. Let them call it “Splurgemas,” or “Shopping Spree Months,” or “Spend more than I make,” or anything but “Christmas.” Actually, in ancient times the non-Christians celebrated the winter solstice which occurred anytime between December 17th and the 23rd and it was called “Saturnalia” and “Dies Natalis Solis Invicti.” Good idea.
I think we have mixed up and confused the two festivals. We should separate them. It wouldn’t be a new concept since we already recognize Hanukkah and Kwanzaa. It works for me. Christmas is a Christian holy day and Christians should go back to the simplicity of yesteryear, to treat it with the holiness it deserves.