Friday, December 24, 2010

Meaning of Christmas

I received this text from one of my adult children recently, I'll clean up the text a bit as it was after all, texting:

My kid:
Capitalism pisses me off. And especially this new capitalist Christmas: buy buy buy. Unfortunately, its making me dislike Christmas.

Get (think) small(er). Its about showing to who you care for, by giving them something from you. Wall Street always abuses good things.

My kid:
Yeah, but most of the stuff in the stores is total crap. I dunno. things lost their meaning. Gifts should have meaning, I feel. Clothes clothes fashion fashion fashion...just time with my family is awesome and a gift as cheesy as it is (or may be). There are just so many little jerk kids running around going MOM MOM MOM WANT WANT....


My kid:
Live like you're poor, but feel like your rich.

I always felt that it was a way to feel rich for a while, in getting xmas gifts. When I was a kid anyway. Because we didn't have a lot. I didn't grow up vactationing on a boat like your mom did [we're divorced]. It was a week or two with no money worries. There was abundance one time a year. :)

That was pretty much the end of the texting on that topi for the day.

I understand what my kid was saying. I think we all do.

To explain what I was trying to get across....

When I was a kid we didn't have a lot. I knew there were money problems. It was obvious, even if never mentioned. Any poor kid understands that. Birthdays were great, once a year, I got attention, and gifts. Of course, my mom was born on my birthday so I had to share it with her, but she tried to be cool about it, by giving me the day and she took the night. So I got a party and that night she would go out for dinner with her husband (my step-father). But it wasn't like the entire day was my day. I just never saw it as cool.

But that was one day a year. Christmas, was an entirely different kind of thing. Of course, we were Catholic. So traditional Christmas, and high holidays. We focused on Jesus' birthday, and all of that. Then as I grew older I learned more about how the Catholic church took over a pagan holiday to assimilate the locals who wouldn't take on the Catholic holidays and maintained their ancient pagan holidays. So the church put Christmas on their pagan days, erasing them, mostly from history.

Back to the present....

What my chat above was trying to point out, was that for one time a year, we put aside our worries, our money problems, our lacking things, and we simply had things. We went shopping, for fun, we got gifts for fun. We gave, for fun.We explored the Christmas time spirit of things. That good feeling it gives you, the music, the sights, Santa, all of it.

Over they years, Christmas time grew to more than a Catholic, or Christian thing. They don't like that. Too bad. Christmas now, as much as people don't like it, has become a secular, a truly American Tradition. Wall Street has had a lot to do with that. And for the good side of it, thanks. For the bad side of it, you should be ashamed.

But Christmas is no longer about Jesus, who was not named Jesus, who was not born on December 25th. Its about feeling good for a while. Wall Street tries to drag that out to even before Thanksgiving now. Again, shame on you. Greedy bastards. And they have found out how to extend it beyond Christmas, with returns and refunds and buy buy buy more after you have that gift card or the money from the returns/refunds, etc.

But what I remember from childhood, was that for that couple of weeks leading up to Christmas, was feeling good, smiling a lot, getting to see Santa for yearly photo sessions which I both loved and hated. We got a tree, we thought about others, bought them presents, wrapped them (although only to the best of our abilities and pretty sad those are at times). The tree in the living room began to fill with presents beneath it. Nightly, the tree was lit. Daily too when we were around. I had to keep water in the pot at the bottom of the tree or it turned into something dead and sad before Christmas Even, traditionally the night we gave presents.

I remember as a young kid, getting up to opening presents Christmas morning, but at some point, we switched it to Christmas Eve. Then we would go to midnight mass which was beautiful, with all the candles lit in the churchgoers hands and the singing and all but then we'd get home exhausted and wake early exhausted. I can't imagine what I was like the next day, all ADHD as usually but now tired on top of it, with huge influxes of secreted candy from our stockings full of goodies and the exhilaration of having new toys and all.

My point in all this is this, Christmas isn't Christian anymore. Yes, Christians and Catholics celebrate it for the original reasons. But now plenty of others, even many Jewish people, celebrate the idea of Christmas giving. Santa plays a big part in it, replacing Jesus. But not really, because, he has just changed his shape and what and how he does things; how he bestows love, what he gives for love. And what difference does it make?

Of course, Christians and Catholics should continue to play out their Faith, but others, who have no belief in Jesus, should be able to enjoy it as it is. Should we change the name to something less denominational? Why? What does it matter? The term Christmas, has lost its original meaning, just like cities named for the same have as in Christ Church, or Christianville, or whatever you can think of. Do you have to be Christian to live in those places? Absolutely not. Should they change the name to Jonestown, or something with no meaning? Why?

What I remember as a child, was Christmas would come upon us and we would revel in it's arrival. It didn't have that much to do with me, as a child, with religion. It was all about community, love, acceptance (in most families), abundance (for a change) and fun. We had lots of food. We had friends and family over. Leftovers lasted for a week or two. After a while I did get sick of turkey, but not the potato salad or other things.

And so, for those few weeks each year, I had a feeling, as a child, of love, no worries, fun times and community. Why, would we muck it all up with religion? Espeically, when you aren't Christian, in any sense of the word. So, why cannot Jewish people, Muslims, Hindus and Buddhists and others, all enjoy, just for the sake of enjoyment. And why would Christians want to take that away from them, just because they are not celebrating Jesus in any sense of the word?

I really think we've lost sight of the whole thing, in pushing that Christmas is ONLY about Jesus, ONLY about CHRISTIANS. They started something good, and now they should just shut up about it. Thanks! But, do your own thing. Let everyone else enjoy the benefits of your contributions. Why try to ruin it for everybody? No, really. How can you possibly have issue with that? If you think so highly of Jesus, and his existence has contributed good to the world in a completely unforeseen way, where is the problem?

I know, you think you need to profess your religion to everyone and all that, but seriously, lighten up, will you? Some good, even in the wrong way, is better than no good. You would rather we call it Winter Holidays? Over Christmas? You've kind of shot yourself in the foot, don't you think? Because of your people demanding it all be about Jesus all these years, now no one wants it to have anything to do with Jesus and they are even offended by calling it, Christmas. Good job guys.

Sometimes, one needs to accept small wins and just let it go, rather than demand a big win and win nothing.

And I would argue that for any religion that has contributes something to the world, that they have lost control over, shut up. Be pleased that you have contributed to the world a little happiness where once there was none.

And you know what? I suspect, Jesus might just think even a secular Christmas, just isn't such a bad thing after all.

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