Is Jesus Celebrated At Christmas?
It’s a question I often ask myself at this time of the year. I ask it because the madness begins next week. Yes, madness. It’s not March Madness where college basketball viewing and betting floods the American workplace. It’s when retailers of all sorts and sizes unveil their sales and lure holiday shoppers into the malls and stores across this wonderful country of ours.
People will be pitching tents, gathering like rock groupies waiting for a big ticket sale, all in anticipation of our economic Super Bowl –Black Friday. It’s a few hours of opportunity – to land an IPod, IPad, Iphone, laptop, digital camera, or HD television at an insane price. Crazy Eddie would be in heaven. I wonder if you remember Crazy Eddie. Anyway, I digress.
The retailers depend upon us to fill their coffers. It’s the time of the year where it’s just fine to keep “Christ” in Christmas for the sake of profit. Many Christians will remove obscene amount of dollars from their wallets and purses all in the name of “Christmas.” But how does this truly benefit the message of Christ’s birth?
Yes, Christmas, is now considered a symbol of what is good in our economy. It’s actually a time of year when all politicians can accept the name being used publicly as long as the green cha chings a merry tune. It’s the holiday that keeps on giving and taking. You give and the retailers take and make their profit. All in the name of Jesus being born.
I assume those shopping to celebrate Christmas feel spiritually connected in Jesus in some way and believe in his teachings of feeding the hungry, housing the homeless and clothing the poor. Or am I wrong?
You give me a gift, I give you one. Jimmy receives a gift from Aunt Martha, you need to return the favor to your niece. Bobby down the block is asking for a shiny red bike, so little Tina is asking for a pink one.
All in the name of Christmas.
The retailers have us trained well. “Only xx amount of days till Christmas!” they shout in their advertisements. You better rush to the store soon for those great sales or you’ll be caught short on the gift-giving bonanza.
Perhaps I am too much of an idealistic spirit within my soul. I’ve always hoped to celebrate Christmas in a proper fashion – without the exchange of meaningless piles of gifts.
I wondered would I survive on December 25th without receiving one gift? How would my children feel if I expressed myself to them without a gift card or a big wrapped present with a pretty red bow attached to the top? What would my aunt and uncle say? Would they pity me, believing I had hit hard times? Was my pride more important than my actual beliefs? What would my kids say to their friends when asked what they got for Christmas?
All of these thoughts and concerns have rattled around inside my head for the past several years. My children are young adults now and my love to celebrate Christmas in a more giving way has increased. As the years melt away, what is more meaningful has nothing to do with glitter and shiny objects.
This column isn’t about overwhelming anyone with guilt. I’m carrying enough of that for each of you right now as I think about the times I could have been more generous and compassionate. I’ve lived long enough, been given so much, had many more breaths than my sister and mother, and have made many wonderful family memories.
I’m grateful to have this day and live in freedom and write these words. But I kept coming back to the most important question — how does one give Jesus a gift today?
There are many ways. He taught me to share, help my neighbor, lend a hand to those in need, lift the distraught, feed the hungry, and support the homeless.
I remember how it was to be homeless. I understand what it means to ride a subway train overnight with nowhere to go. I can comprehend how it feels to be hungry and poor, wearing dirty clothes and gloves in the dead of winter, humiliated and embarrassed. So, clearly, there is NO excuse for me.
If you want to be political, you can give yourself a tax break. Your tax break can be to stay home on Black Friday and reach out to someone who truly needs your help.
I’ll tell my now young adults do not give me anything for Christmas. I already have my greatest gifts in my children and family. I’ll encourage them to instead to help a friend or lend a hand in the community or give to a charity. It’s not about getting the keys to heaven. It’s about celebrating my greatest role model by upholding the belief we are here to help one another.
I wish everyone a wonderful Thanksgiving and Merry Christmas. May you be fortunate to spend it with family and loved ones.