First of all, above is my favorite Christmas song of all time, which will make more sense after you read this post. And also, I truly believe the Grinch was misunderstood. Poor guy. I’m sorry to say this, but I really don’t like the holiday season. I don’t know what it is about it. But, by and large, whereas most people succumb to the winter doldrums, I am very glad when the calendar flips over to January 1st.
I think what I don’t like about the holidays is the fakeness of it all. Lets be honest; we all have issues when it comes to family. There are strained relationships and wounds that can be difficult to deal with. Yet, at Thanksgiving and Christmas, we are supposed to forget all about that, and be a big, happy family like nothing ever happened. Advertising and media shoves images of the happy family at Christmas down our throat, and makes us feel bad when ours doesn’t match up.
Then, you have the religious aspect. There is a large segment of society that doesn’t identify with Christanity, and it is growing. Everything from Judaism to Spiritualism to Atheism to every kind of -ism you can think of. But, we expect them to sweep their beliefs under the rug, and go right along with Christmas. Then, we have the nerve to attack them for taking the “Christ out of Christmas” when they try to find ways to celebrate this holiday that they (of course) MUST celebrate, without compromising their beliefs. As if we somehow have the right to dictate what they do.
First of all, we have no idea when Jesus was born. Secondly, many historians believe the whole concept of Christmas on December 25th was an attempt by the church to “repurpose” a “pagan” holiday, the Winter Solstice. And thirdly, I can’t speak for him, but I’m pretty sure Jesus would be absolutely disgusted by our fervent consumerism, militant religiousity, and complete lack of focus on anything resembling his teachings. When we shout and stomp our feet at Non-Christians about “taking the Christ out of Christmas”, or “keeping the Christ in Christmas” as the case may be, and knocking people over in Walmart on Thanksgiving Day for video games and toys, are we really doing what we should?
My friend Ted had some great comments last night. He called attention to that familiar passage in Matthew, where Jesus laid out the ONLY two principles we are to live by. “Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”
Ted pointed out that we really tend to gloss over this, and asked a question. How many of us can say at the end of any given day, that we really loved God with all the love we can give, and that we extended as much grace to people in our lives as we extend to ourselves? I don’t know about you, but I fail at that every single day. You can argue the details all day long, but that simple, powerful statement sums it up. If you are not extending everyone you meet the same grace that you extend yourself…you aren’t really loving your neighbor as yourself.
Which brings me to this. For me personally, Christmas is a fundamental flaw in our belief system. For one month out of the year, we pretend that we don’t fall short of that goal. We get caught up in some shiny trimmings, say Merry Christmas to people that pass by in the mall, drop in some change at the Salvation Army kettle, and feel good about ourselves. We don’t do anything to mend those broken family relationships. We just put a bow on them, box them up, and stick them under a tree. We don’t do anything to solve poverty, or addiction, or homelessness. We dump our pocket change in a red bucket, and figure that’s good enough. We don’t take the time to love other people who don’t share our beliefs; we force them to celebrate our holiday, and then get angry with them if they try to make it their own. We spend large amounts on gifts, and then don’t give love the other 11 months of the year. Even if you think what occurs during the Christmas season is good, why do we only do it for one month?
If you like Christmas, I am happy for you. If you have found joy in it, that is terrific. I am not judging you, or telling you what to do, or trying to force my beliefs on anyone. But I think the Grinch was misunderstood, and I wanted to explain why you can count me amongst his sympathizers.