(10 Dec. Addition: WARINNG - a rant on consumerism and political correctness)
Christmas, that joyful time of year when rampant consumerism gets a thin veneer of religious tradition to encourage us to "give" some trinket to the ones we love. Christmas was once a religious holiday but it's hard to remember why you're celebrating when you struggle through the crowds at Toys-R-Us trying to find last-minute presents (under $20) for some distant nephew who unexpectedly sent presents to his cousin. When did buying gifts dictate the love you have for your family and friends?
These days, Christmas feels forced and way too commercial. i don't think they even make Christmas specials anymore, unless it has a product tie-in. They are basically half-hour commercials for over-priced and over-hyped pieces of plastic. There is no Christmas anymore, only X-mas or the Holiday Season.
Christmas is Dead, when people start calling Christmas trees "Holiday Trees" you have to admit that the Political Correctness of our day makes for a great justification for the dismantling of Christmas. We tried to be inclusive in our referral to "the holidays" or "the holiday season," implying more than one. That's OK. But in a variety of places, when the packaging, Santa and all, indicates a referral to one of those specific holidays, it is being referred to as just "Holiday." We have killed the meaning of Christmas and replaced it with the consumerist orgy of Holiday.
Yet there is a glimmer of hope through all this consumerist nonsense. Our society has not completely sacrificed baby Jesus to the god of commercialism and its mouthpiece political correctness. The other night i saw "a Charlie Brown Christmas" on the TV. It has been years since i've seen it. It is one of the few specials i can totally relate to.
In the 1965 classic "A Charlie Brown Christmas", Charlie Brown's Christmas is off to a slow start after he becomes overwhelmed by all the rampant commercialism of the season. Even his dog Snoopy gets caught up in it. The resolution to his dilemma comes in a scene in which Charlie Brown cries out in frustration, "Isn't there anyone who knows what Christmas is all about?" Then Linus walks onto that stage, dragging his blanket . . . the spotlight hits him . . . and he proceeds to quote from the Bible's account of the first Christmas.
i thought to myself, "They have not edited it out yet!"
If the animators wanted to begin creating that show now, and have Linus tell us what Christmas is all about, would the project ever get off the ground? If it did, would we have to endure yet another insipid tale with no anti-commercialist feelings where Linus gives us advice on how to buy the perfect gift for the person who has everything. They would call the show "A Charlie Brown Holiday"
While watching the show, i came to realize that i am a Charlie Brown when it comes to Christmas. We are both frustrated by the rampant consumerism that is obscuring what was once a great time of year. If you feel the same way then you probably are a Charlie Brown too. Christmas it is not about the gifts we get! It is about Jesus Christ, the embodiment of God's love given to us 2,000 years ago.
So what can we do? Give up Christmas? Give up that secularized shell of a holiday with its consumerist imagery of a coca cola inspired Santa, Rudolph, elves who want to be dentists, misfit toys and the rest? Do we chuck it out and abandon the whole edifice? NO! We need to eradicate the consumerist imagery and reclaim the imagery of the Christmas Season. To go back to its roots and re:image it for a better future. But how?
On my part, i am celebrating the Advent Season to distance myself from the consumerist Holiday that once was Christmas. The Advent focus helps me re:image the Christmas Season in light of historical Christian practice. This is my first Advent and i'm finding a depth of symbolism and Christian meaning in it that i have longed for.