Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Whatever Happened to Christmas?

Dear Gentle Readers...

Christmas devotionals are difficult for me. That must sound strange coming from one of faith. I don't think I'm the only one, though. There are a number of us out here that struggle during the holidays.

I work a part-time retail job. Anyone who has done this can tell you we are on the front lines of the holiday humbug. It begins with militant christians, not unlike the Inquisitors, who are offended when I offer "happy holidays." I get the lecture on how people like me are removing Jesus from everything in this world including Christmas. These are the folks who should have the greatest joy, yet they are sour, frustrated, and unpleasant. And they really can affect your mood in great numbers. (I live in the south...there are great numbers.)

I offer "happy holidays" because I want to be sensitive to another's faith walk. Nothing says I have to agree with their spiritual choices. I simply want to respect them. There is nothing that turns people off more quickly than to have another's religion pushed down their throats. And if there's one thing about Christians down through the ages, we've been really good at pushing our beliefs down the throats of others! All of that hassle tends to leave me with a bit of a humbug problem.

And we all know those who are simply depressed during the holidays. Psychiatry always comes up with great names and acronyms for this stuff. What it all means is that you are yucky. It may relate to your childhood experiences. It may relate to experiences as an adult. You may just plain old fight depression and this is the season it's at its worst. Who knows? Either way, you get really good at the "happy holidays" fake smile. Inside you're wishing the world would go away and leave you alone.

But, when we take all of this and melt it down, what is left is our faith. For those of us who are Christian, we celebrate the birth of Jesus. For the Wiccan or Neo Pagan, they celebrate the solstice, the longest and darkest night of the winter season. Our Jewish brothers and sisters celebrate Hanukkah, a festival of lights showing God's protection for His chosen people.

None of the external matters. The depression. The nasty people in the checkout line at the store. The staunch fundamentalists who would insist you worship their way or else. None of it matters.

What matters is our worship. What matters is our love for our brothers and sisters in this world. What will you do this season? Will you give in to the humbug attitude? Or will you choose to worship and honor the Jesus we as Christians accept as our salvation?

I encourage you to take time. Take time Christmas Eve to think upon the impending birth of Jesus. What must Mary and Joseph have thought? How did God the Father feel when peering over Heaven's edge to see His Son enter the world in such a manner? And on Christmas Day, rejoice with Mary and Joseph as they hold the Savior, a little baby. Remember in your own heart of hearts what this season of celebration means to you personally.

I encourage you to take that joy and share it throughout next year. May your Christmas be filled with thoughts of helping those less fortunate, for it is in giving that we receive. Really, isn't that what Jesus did for us?


PS: Remember in prayer those on the Gulf Coast who have lost so much this year. Many will be sharing their Christmas huddled in tents and eating at soup kitchens. Many will have no Christmas at all. Let us not forget these our brothers and sisters during this holiday season.


Kathie FAC said...

Hey Cindi- I understand the humbug. I most often say "Merry Christmas", but I don't get upset anymore when I say "happy holidays" and someone gives me a look or comment - Christmas is a holiday (orginally a Holy Day) and we also celebrate New Year's as a holiday (once upon a time a Holy day as well)so it is not incorrect to say Happy Holidays. it seems there are too many people majoring inthe mionors, and minoring in the majors. Whether it's "Happy Holy-days" or "Merry Christmas", it is Jesus that is Reason for the Season.

Erny said...


Thank you for the timely message. I continue to wonder why people who are not to 'judge' continue to do so. As a Christian, it boggles my mind.