I want to begin this post by warning you that I’m rather passionate about this topic. You might say I have an axe to grind on the subject. What subject? Well, as the title alludes, it has a little something to do with Christmas. Really, at this point, I find it more appropriate to refer to the holiday as Xmas. It has nothing more to do with the birth of the Savior Jesus Christ than does Flag Day. This is horribly depressing to me to the point that I really am finding it hard to get excited for a season that only seems to revolve around consumerism and self-absorption.
First of all, Jesus was born in the late summer/early fall time frame. If you recall, Joseph and Mary were in Bethlehem to be counted for the census, but those were taken right after the harvest. This makes sense as the only time the people as a whole had anything to spare to the crown was right after they had sold their crops. The only reason the holiday is celebrated on this day was to make it more palatable to fourth century pagans who celebrated the winter solstice with drinking, orgies, etc. This was just a way to draw some of them to a less abominable form of celebration at the same time.
I understand that Valentine’s Day is a holiday nearly invented by Hallmark, but how did Christmas get to be the day where consumerism is at its ugliest? Where down the line did we miss the point of this day? Jesus was given gold, frankincense and myrrh (all very valuable, yes) that each were an allegory for a different role of the Savior, the God-Man come to obey the very law that no mere man could ever conceive of doing. How did we go from this to buying countless meaningless gifts for those around us because of what our calendar says December 25 is?
I am not considering myself above reproach on this issue as I have to confront my own issues with consumerism and the idol worship that is beneath it. Regardless, I find it hard celebrating the holiday the way we do now and calling myself a Christian. Sure, some of us read the nativity story in the Bible during the season and sing spiritual Christmas carols, but what is the difference that I am looking to achieve from the very pagans the holiday was meant to attract 1800 years ago? I think of 1 Corinthians 13:3 where Paul wrote, “If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing.” Sure, some of us sacrifice and spend a lot of money so the recipients of our gifts appreciate them. Where is our value system?! Oh how far we have fallen.
Christmas is the birth of our Savior. It was the coming of the greatest gift the earth and mankind has ever and will ever receive. Immanuel, God with us, descended from His seat at the right hand of the Father, so that we would not all be condemned to eternal separation from the Giver of Life (i.e., death), but have life to the fullest!
Even on the surface, I feel it rather obvious that this holiday needs to be a time of rejoicing and praise for all the blessings that God has given and who He is. Going slightly deeper, I think this is a time where I should be praying to see the blessings which I take for granted. That means cherishing family, friends as well as trials and struggles. They are all gifts rained down from heaven to work for the benefit of those who He knew and continues with in relationship (Romans 8:28–29).
How can I do this when everywhere I look all I see is “buy, buy buy”? I think this question has to come down to what do I value most? If I value my time, then the greatest gift I can give to my loved ones is just that. God gave us His Son in the first Christmas, so why should I not give something of comparable value to show my own love? Let’s wash our hands and shake the dust from our feet of this poisonous consumerism.
As a necessary post-publishing note, I love Christmas. I love being with my family, the music, ornaments, lights, smells and all the tradition in which the holiday is steeped.