A commentary about the early and extravagant celebration of Christmas.
MCKNOTES ON EARLY CHRISTMAS
Christmas seems to come earlier and earlier. This year, Thanksgiving fell on the earliest possible date, according to the way that holiday has etched its way into the American calendar. That means that between Christmas and Thanksgiving there is more time, so one might reason that the business world would be in less of a rush, but it just didn’t work that way.
These days people decorate houses for Halloween. When I was a kid, the only thing we decorated was ourselves. Oh sure, teachers adorned their bulletin boards with black cats and one dimensional cardboard jack-o-lanterns, but people didn’t decorate their homes. That was reserved for Christmas.
Thanksgiving gets a bit of a nod with the display of rich autumn colors and cornucopia filled with the yield of a good harvest. The bulletin boards give way to turkeys made of student’s hand prints with a few additions. Schools decorate for homecoming, making use of school colors aimed at stirring up interest in the “big game.” Then there are dances. Homecoming ends with a dance. Some schools, youth organizations and churches crown a snow princess and build another dance around that theme. All of a sudden, it’s Christmas.
There’s no limit to what people will do at Christmas. It’s a great holiday that is really fun for a lot of people, but more and more fails to recognize the “true meaning” of that holiday. I guess that’s O.K. Everybody likes getting gifts, and most enjoy buying gifts for the people they care about. Christians have really allowed their special day to be taken over by commercial concerns. Christmas movies are about Santa Claus, and that’s fine. A good many people in our country profess Christianity but fall short of seriously practicing the teachings of their religion. The most blatant omission is the forgiveness that is so central to the teachings of all Christian sects. Rather, there is a large focus on judgment. I don’t know where in the Bible men are called to judge other men. Of course, I’m talking about the New Testament, which is really more about the life of Christ, with the Old Testament serving as a history lesson of the Jewish people.
I do marvel at the amount of money people are willing to spend on Christmas décor, especially at a time when the economy is supposedly so difficult. But Christmas lights do bring pleasure and it’s fun to see the various artistic treatments of lights that trim eaves, roof lines, shrubbery an porch columns or banisters. There’s a lot of work that goes into this kind of decoration.
After Christmas, it doesn’t take long before Valentine hearts replace snowflakes, silver bells and various other holiday paraphernalia. After Valentine’s Day, comes Easter. I’ve seen trees adorned with Easter eggs.
I guess I think it would just be nice if people would take a bit of time to reflect on the spirit of Christmas. The gifts are fine, but I think Christmas is more about the gift we have received. I just don’t like to see people spending more than they can truly afford. Sadly, Christmas has become a bit like weddings. People spend from twenty thousand dollars to figures beyond my comprehension for a single day of that celebration. I think it would make so much more sense to put that large sum of money toward the marriage instead of the wedding. I guess we get caught up in traditions and forget to think about the true meaning of some of our cultural traditions.
In any event, I wish you all a very Merry Christmas, even if it’s a bit early.