I HATE CHRISTMAS.
There, I said it.
I know it’s supposed to be the most wonderful time of the year, but I am in that statistical minority that would like nothing more than to skip from Thanksgiving to New Year’s Day, leaving all the gift buying, tree trimming, gift wrapping, decorating, partying, gift giving, stressing, and exhaustion for someone else. In large part it’s the ridiculous commercialization of this holiday that has put it on my shit…er, naughty…list, such that consumers are encouraged, wheedled with, pushed and begged to make this the best Christmas ever by purchasing whatever hot item is currently on the must have list. I hate that we as customers are so easily manipulated by our desire for things. How many of us are willing to fight, scrap and maul each other over some spectacularly priced item that we
need want? Black Friday, the more or less official kick-off to the Christmas season, starts before we have even digested Thanksgiving dinner, and many of us are all but tipping chairs over in our rush out the door to fill our cars with Black Friday sales.
And then there is the war on Christmas. Sure, we live in a country where we are free to celebrate Christmas as we choose (or indeed, any holiday we choose), where Christmas is a FEDERAL HOLIDAY, and yet there is a (seemingly) growing movement to excise Christ from Christmas. It’s fine if we celebrate Christ’s birth (the real reason for the season) as long as we do it privately, and not in the public square. Never mind that the public is us, never mind that we who celebrate Christ are not requiring that every other faith (or non-faith) restrict their own holiday celebrations, and certainly never mind that turning Christmas into the more inclusive (bland) holiday season is still referencing something holy. Perhaps most of all on this particular issue, I hate that no entity seems to have a backbone to stand up to these Grinches until their selfish, misplaced, faux offense is exposed on the news.
Psychologists will tell you that there are many who find Christmas to be the most difficult, most stressful, most anxiety-inducing, most depressing time of the year. It does not surprise me. There is enough commercial and political ridiculousness to tarnish the most ardent Christmas spirit. I used to think these psych statistics referred to (a relatively small number of) people with no family, no friends, no money, no home, or no reason to celebrate. (As if any of those conditions constitutes a reason not to celebrate the birth of Christ, but I digress…). I now know that it can be anyone, and I know that because I am one of them. There have been countless Christmases that I have dreaded, that have been wrought with devastating disappointment for me, and though some of those disappointments were attached to a gift I received, they were never about not getting what I wanted, but rather about realizing beyond the shadow of a doubt how little I was valued by the gift giver. It was visceral, piercing pain. So many years I spent looking forward to Christmas, building up in my mind what a wonderful day it would be, and being done in by whatever it was that crushed out my joy for that day.
Thankfully it wasn’t every Christmas. Thankfully there were happy ones as a young kid, when the whole family would converge at our grandparents’ home for a few days of Christmas fun. Thankfully I remember those Christmases, enough so that I want to make absolutely sure my own children experience the complete, unfettered joy that comes from Christmas being all that it should be for them. And what I want most for my children is for them to wrap their hearts around the Christ child, the only reason for the season, to anchor their joy in Him, and to see intimately how and why “every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.” (James 1:17).
So maybe I don’t hate Christmas.
Maybe I hate that Christmas has become more about what it is not than what it is.
I abhor the crass commercialization that starts earlier every year.
I loathe the war on Christmas.
I despise how people can disappoint and hurt each other on the very holiday that they should be celebrating the joy of Christ’s birth.
I hate my own Grinchy attitude, legitimate though it may be, because it is not anchored in Christ.
On the other hand…
I love the real reason for the season…Jesus Christ!
I love the joy my child has in Christmas.
I love watching him get joy not only from getting gifts, but from giving them.
I love that we share that kind of joy.
And I love Christmas music. There is nothing better than listening to glorious music that expresses the joy of Christmas and celebrates the good and perfect gift of Jesus Christ! If only we celebrated those things with the same vigor all year long. A resolution, perhaps…but for now, at the (almost) beginning of this Christmas season, I leave you with one of my favorite Christmas carols.