23 December 2011

Some Thoughts From this "Holiday" Season

The term Holiday Season used to bother me. It seemed like another concession to the insanity of political correctness. I’ve gotten over it. I do think it’s pretty silly when people try to disguise their Christianity by saying Holiday when they very clearly mean Christmas, but I have also decided that Holiday season aptly describes the November to January festivities that I participate in. This year has seemed to me to be the year of complaining. I have encountered a number of grouchy Christians that, in their effort to preserve the piousness of their celebrations, I think have become quite Grinchish. In addition to bemoaning the atheistic title of the season and objecting to the commercialization of Christmas, they find fault in almost every aspect of traditional American Christmas celebration. I think they are missing out on what could be the “most wonderful time of the year.”

I know that Christ was not born in the winter. I am fully aware that Christmas is in December to coincide with the ancient pagan holidays celebrating the Winter Solstice. It doesn't bother me. I don’t think that makes me less Christian. The fact that pagans thousands of years ago thought that an evergreen tree had mystical properties because it did not die in the winter is interesting. The fact that I choose to think of the evergreen tree as a symbol of everlasting life made possible through the Son of God does not make me an uninformed purveyor of pagan traditions as I place a Christmas tree in my house.

I know that retailers push the beginning of their Christmas observance as early as possible in order to raise profits. I realize that the Thanksgiving holiday was moved a week earlier in order to lengthen the official Christmas shopping season. I have decided that I don’t care. I have been known to put a stocking or two up before Thanksgiving, and I have no rigid date set for the appropriate beginning of Christmas music. Despite the fact that I join the evil corporate monster in beginning Christmas before December, I don’t believe that this makes my own personal observance of Christmas any less spiritual. I like the idea of combining the two holidays. Certainly a day dedicated to gratitude is in no way diminished by remembering the birth of the Savior, for whom I am extremely thankful. And the celebration of Christmas is probably enhanced by adding an element of thanks. So instead of sighing at the lost soul of America as I see candy canes displayed the day after Halloween, I find some peppermint ice cream and start to wonder where my Nativity sets will be best displayed this year. I have spent the last ten Christmases in ten different residences, so it really is a legitimate question that often requires some extensive pondering.

On a much less defensive note: I have a small collection of nativity sets. My favorite one is magnetic. It is my favorite partly because I love all things magnetic, and partly because it goes on my refrigerator door in the kitchen where I spend a significant portion of my life. I like that I don’t have to find a place for it every year. It usually goes up first (before Thanksgiving) because I don’t have to think about where to put it. I also like that I can see it amid meal preparation and dishes. It’s a good reminder to me that I can seek the divine even among the mundane parts of life.