‘I hate Christmas!’ he said matter of fact. What?! How can anyone hate Christmas? Obviously not spoken by a holiday reveler or follower of Christ. On closer examination and prompted by my ‘how can you even say that?’ I get a quizzical look and an answer, though not the one I was looking for.
I get a modified response from my acquaintance – who shall remain nameless – a little less severe but just as powerful. ‘Well, I hate the Christmas season.’ And that sentiment is probably shared by more than just a few.
Hold it! Let’s back up just a bit. Christmas and all its trappings is easily swallowed up by the countless children who’ve been indoctrinated from an early age to look forward to the magical season. Unfortunately, the appeal stems from a mythical figure and not the divine Christ Child.
Although to be fair, it all started with the right motivation and good intentions, derived from St. Nicholas, a Greek Bishop, living during the Roman era, circa 280 A.D. He was known to be a patron of many groups and his generosity to the impoverished was well-known. Perhaps that is where folklore took over and morphed the good bishop into a saintly figure who eventually became a giver of gifts to all children.
Sadly, the giving of gifts has taken on a whole different meaning, one that I’m sure was never intended. A poem by Clement Moore in 1822, entitled, A Visit from St. Nicholas, was well received by family and friends. However, once it was published under a new title, The Night before Christmas, it was quickly propelled into something not intended by the original author. The generous and wise St. Nicholas had transformed into a jolly rotund man who had the ability to whisk through the night sky on a magical sled pulled by reindeer no less.
Now better known as Santa Claus, the mystical figure no longer stems from central Europe but apparently lives at the North Pole, surrounded by elves who seem to do all the work. I trust they have a generous compensation package.
And with that revelation, everything has changed. Sure, we still have the nativity scene depicting the manger and baby Jesus, but all too often, it’s an after-thought and the figurines are relegated to the side or occupy a corner of the fireplace. The prominent display now consists of a large (often fake) over-decorated Christmas tree, its base filed with brightly coloured wrapped presents.
Hence the dislike for the so called Yuletide season. It’s changed so much that some even dread going to the local shopping centre, afraid of being accosted by the frenzy that accompanies harried shoppers. I’m reminded of the line uttered by King Thoeden in the movie, The Lord of the Rings, ‘How did it come to this?’ He of course was referring to the coming onslaught of Orcs that were threatening to wipe out all of humanity in Middle Earth.
It’s not that much different today. All the hustle and bustle surrounding Christmas has changed our perception of the holiday season, turning from one of anticipation and joy to one of dread and resignation.
The good news, however, is that it doesn’t have to be this way. Like King Thoeden, we don’t have to give in to the current circumstances, but fight the ‘oppressing’ forces of commercialization and get back to what’s really important. Let’s put Christ back into Christmas and joyfully proclaim, ‘I love Christmas.’