Christmas time. The very mention of it conjures up images of a roaring hearth fire keeping the family warm against the outside chill as they sit together, singing and laughing and simply being grateful for the fact that they have each other. The lavishly decorated Christmas tree dominates the family room.
Delicious smells waft from the kitchen as delectable baked goods are prepared, to be enjoyed following a hot Christmas feast for dinner. And, of course, the presents, laid out in a different kind of feast under the tree. It’s the kids’ favorite part of the entire holiday, but even the grownups love both to give and to receive. Carolers roam the streets in merry bands, their festive voices spreading happiness and cheer. And those prescient enough to be thankful for all that God has blessed them with will take a moment to remember what the holiday is really about, and will spend some time in church or even simply saying a quiet prayer by themselves.
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Where has Christmas gone? Somehow, it isn’t the same anymore. The season comes and goes like always, the malls are still a mess in December and a nightmare to traverse, and the 25th inevitably turns into the 26th. But the magic just isn’t there, not the way it once was. The days and weeks leading up to Christmas have lost some of their festive mystique, and even the time meant to be set aside for spending time with family seems a little less sacred. What happened?
In a word, culture. Specifically, PC – Politically Correct – culture. The obsessive, somewhat neurotic preoccupation with sensitivity to all peoples and all faiths, at all times and at all costs, has made it unacceptable even to fully celebrate Christmas. There is less emphasis on the story of Jesus, less display of the classical nativity scene, less use of any religious symbolism at all. Many businesses now refuse to allow their employees to wish customers a “Merry Christmas”, ordering them instead to offer the more neutral “Happy Holidays”, lest someone be somehow offended by an expression of cheer. They very words themselves, “Merry Christmas”, have become something they never were before and never should have been: A political issue. Overt Christians and overtly Christian stores go out of their way to speak the words, putting an urgency and fervency behind them that feels awkward and out of place. It’s a good thing that someone somewhere still believes in Christmas and in keeping the Christmas spirit alive, but the Christmas spirit shouldn’t be on life support to begin with. Christmas shouldn’t be something we have to fight for.
But during this of all times of year, let us not lose hope. There is still much we can do, and it starts by remembering what Christmas is really about: Love and the company of family, and good will among all people. If it has become politically incorrect to have Christmas out in the open, then let’s have it where it belongs, at home amongst the people who share it with one another. Let’s remember to be with the ones we love, to cherish the time we have with them, to be grateful for all that we have in our lives. Let’s share our joy and good cheer, and let’s unforcefully but unashamedly wish each other a Merry Christmas. Let’s not treat this like a battle, but as what it really is: A wonderful time of year that we all love and enjoy, and a time to bring people together.
This includes people who, rather than Christmas, celebrate the wonderful holiday of Hanukkah around the same time. The themes of Hanukkah are virtually identical, as it too is a time for love and reflection.
So this holiday season, let’s let the magic live on. We don’t need to fight, we don’t need to squabble, and we don’t need to argue. That’s not what Christmas is about. Let’s just be together, let’s love that we are together, and let’s enjoy this time of year for the reasons it’s meant to be enjoyed.
I wish all of you a very Merry Christmas and Happy Hanukkah, and may you and your families be blessed.