At some point in your life, Christmas went from being a magical time of year full of excitement and joy to one of obligation and expense. Your mileage may vary, but many people that I’ve talked to around my age feel the exact same.
It’s hard to pinpoint the exact moment it happened, but at some point in my adult life the wonder and appreciation I had for the holiday dissipated. It would be inaccurate to say it was replaced with a feeling of nothingness. I don’t feel as if this is just any other day. To be accurate, I’d have to say there’s a hollow feeling that was once so full of goodness.
Some would say it’s because Christmas is a time of childlike wonder and with your childhood gone, the feeling of Christmas went with it. I’m not sure that’s accurate. I still felt the specialness of Christmas into my adulthood. In fact, most of the things that would make Christmas special are still present from my childhood.
I still decorate a Christmas tree, I still watch the old Christmas programs I grew up with, and I still listen to old Christmas songs from Frank Sinatra to Ella Fitzgerald. I still open presents on Christmas morning. I still give presents out to others. I still watch Ralphie nearly shoot his eye out with a Red Ryder lever-action BB gun with a compass in the stock. These are things I can’t wait to pass down to my son when he begins to understand what’s happening.
So what’s the deal? Why are so many people disconnecting from one of the most important days of the entire year?
Many of you already know the base part of the answer. Christmas is no longer about Christmas anymore, and by that, I mean the very reason for the season has taken a backseat if He hasn’t been kicked out of the car completely. Christ, the very reason for Christmas, is no longer the center of it. Even people who still understand that Christmas is a celebration of our Lord and Savior being born seem to be unable to pair the two days together, though. In your heart, this is about Christ. However, in the heart of mainstream culture, this is now about something horrendous.
For one, it’s about corporatism. That much has become obvious. Corporations love Christmas because it makes them more money than they tend to get the rest of the year. They’ve been pushing up Christmas time in their stores more and more to the point where my wife and I were walking through Target’s Christmas section in October. At the time, I felt an element of insult about it, and didn’t figure out why until I started listening to Christmas music. I kept wanting to pass by old favorites such as “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree” and “Home for the Holidays” in favor of Christmas songs that centered around Christ, or at least mentioned Him. They were the only songs that made me feel that spirit again.
It made me realize the frivolousness of Christmas has overtaken the reason for it. They’re using Christ to sell wares while doing their best to exclude Christ from the festivities. This has slowly made me disassociate myself from the Christmas festivities without my realizing it. I felt resentment where I should have felt joy.
Then there are the “jokes” from mainstream culture that I’m slowly realizing aren’t jokes.
According to mainstream culture, Christmas time means hanging out with your family, and hanging out with your family is apparently just horrendous. You’re supposed to dread seeing your Aunt and Uncle because your Aunt is annoying and your Uncle is racist. Your cousin is a weirdo, your grandparents are old-fashioned and won’t acclimate to modernity, and it’s all just the worst.
Except that’s not true. While families definitely have their tiffs, to say that hanging out with your family around the holidays is punishment is a lie. In terms of that becoming a popular, mainstream sentiment, it’s relatively recent. Listen to old Christmas songs and movies made before the 80s. Many of them center on gathering together joyfully and reconnecting with people you haven’t seen in some time. It was a big part of the magic. Apparently, that’s been stripped away and in its place is disdain for family.
Between the consumerism and anti-family attitude mainstream culture puts on Christmas, things began to get lost. Christ was kicked out, the family became a bother, and the spirit of goodwill that once inhabited people disappeared as Christmas became one more thing to fight about in the culture war.
My observations on our society make me fully believe that the war on Christmas is real, and while there are definitely elements that would directly wage war on it because of its connections to Christ, part of the blame resides with those who don’t even know they’re helping to sap Christmas of all its joy, love, and wonder. They fall into the nostalgia-baiting of it and forget what it’s all about in the first place.
Christmas may never come back to what it was in the mainstream parts of our culture. For all intents in purposes, it’s dead there, and hollow elements are wearing a mask of Christmas to prey and profit. If you want Christmas back, however, you have to separate yourself from it.
The spirit of giving, familial love, and the worship of Christ are what really bring Christmas home to the heart. You’re not going to find that feeling, or the encouragement of that feeling, anywhere that a corporation or activist group can profit off of it. It’s not at a Christmas store, and it’s not in “The Grinch.” These are fun in relation to Christmas, but they’re not Christmas.
I don’t want to dishearten you with this article. In fact, I hope this helps you make things a bit brighter. I wish you all a very merry Christmas.
May the Lord Jesus Christ bless you and your family as we celebrate the day of His birth, and I hope the light of Christmas comes back to you if you’ve lost it in all the minutia.