By Jessica Keye.
There’s something important I have to say and it may be confronting for some of you. I’m sorry if you are having to find out this way but… Santa? Yeah he isn’t real.
Wew! Ok, glad we got that one out of the way. Now, I’m just going to double check that we’re all on the same page in terms of what Christmas is really all about…
Christmas: beginning in early November (and sometimes mid-October for particularly eager stores), is characterised by the same three incessant carols being played over shopping centre speakers, people attaching plush reindeer antlers and a red Rudolf nose to their cars, advent calendars testing the willpower of our children, complaints of last minute gift shopping, and utterances of the phrase “what the heck do you get guys for Christmas?!”… plus, a spike in the employment rates of bearded old men and, immediately after Christmas, an increase in the number of people seeking psychological support (likely due to all the Christmas lunch engagements endured with the extended family…). Christmas is the celebration of tinsel, public holidays and having some decent leverage over our kids when they are misbehaving.
On a scale of 1 to the Grinch, how cynical did that sound? Around this holiday season I hear a lot of my friends, Christian and non-Christian alike, echoing the same old tune year after year… “Christmas is so consumeristic.” and they are certainly not wrong. But I’d like to suggest that there will always be people who seek to make a selfish profit by exploiting the celebration and cheer of others and I wonder how, in pointing out this fault in others and declaring that “the true meaning of Christmas has been lost” because of it, is any better. The true meaning of Christmas is just as easily lost when we begin to criticise one another and cast negative thoughts upon everything around us.
Perhaps there needs to be an embargo on the amount of Christmas related decorations allowed in each household? Do people think that the true meaning of Christmas is simply making sure there is a nativity scene visible in every home and public space available? Like Christmas is just a nod to the immaculate conception of God incarnate you know, just coming down from Heavenly heights to set a perfect example and standard for a life lived with the Spirit and yeah, the same Lord of all who sweat blood as He laid down His life as a sacrifice in place of our own? Yeah, thanks Jesus! Cheers mate… I bet you were a cute baby… Oooh good fruitcake this year Grandma! (Just kidding… I don’t like fruitcake… I’m more of a Pavlova person myself).
While you might be appalled by the Santa paraphernalia that litters our shopping centre shelves (especially now you know its all a lie!) and the obligation to buy gifts for friends and family, I might suggest that just like those big corporations pushing products, you are also missing the true meaning of Christmas by quite a distance. Just like every Sabbath is important time set apart as a reminder to rest in God and provide us with an opportunity the renew our relationship with Him, Christmas is a special time of the year when we are (or should be) reminded of love and joy, peacefulness and hope. You may complain all you like about this culture of consumerism but it will not change just because you don’t agree with it. But if you keep wasting your time being upset, annoyed, and aggravated or any other related adjectives, you risk becoming so bitter and Grinch-like that you no longer contain the essence of Christmas within you either. We have the truth in us because we have Jesus at the centre of our hearts – don’t shroud the glory of God under a heavy cloak of judgement and negativity. It’s in the simple joys and acts of love that we get to witness and share that carry the spirit of Christmas most of all.
This Christmas season let’s not get wrapped up (Christmas pun very much intended) in the disappointments and stresses of buying and organising and Christmas card writing. Whatever you do let it be because of all the things you know Christmas is truly about, untainted by consumerism. We don’t have to argue the deception of Santa or the mass production of baubles and fairy lights… We love, we praise, we are joyful and full of peace and we give just as God did. Let that be the Christmas that people buy into this season.
Welcome, Christmas, bring your cheer. Cheer to all Whos far and near. Christmas Day is in our grasp, so long as we have hands to clasp. Christmas Day will always be just as long as we have we. Welcome Christmas while we stand, heart to heart, and hand in hand. - Dr. Seuss