“I’m a bit of a Scrooge.”
That’s what I heard many times at work and throughout the day. Those who speak these words to me every year seem to not have heard the whole “A Christmas Carol” story, where by the end Scrooge becomes known as the man with the MOST Christmas spirit around.
This seems to be a common thread these days, like people grow up to find themselves adults and attach Christmas to childishness and don’t want to be affiliated. Cynicism and skepticism have been given such a push recently, and people tend to find it sort of cool to “see through” things. As if it’s some new thing that Christmas and many holidays have been reworked to make more money for big business, like it’s some amazing code to have broken and to understand and then, to dissent.
What was it that did this to us? Why do we forget how to balance? What is wrong with our hearts that we hate to be cheerful so much that when a season seems to demand this of us we say “Bah, humbug.”
The more cynical among us will tell a story of how the original Christmas celebration was a pagan holiday, wherein children were the ones given as gifts of sacrifice to pagan gods. But what happened next? Christians came along and decided that it was a major celebration, but they didn’t like the way it was being celebrated, they would like to give it a new purpose, a new meaning, that would undo it’s terrifying hideousness and celebrate the coming of – for the Christian – hope, peace, love, salvation, and restoration. The coming of a child who, coincidentally, would grow up and chose to be the sacrifice for all mankind.
How different is our situation? Yes, it is muted compared to the atrocities suffered way back when. But what is Christmas corporately now? Pumped up to be the release of the depravity of man, a get out of guilt free card to purchase, purchase, purchase. It has been used for financial gain and frivolity. What have we done. Are we sacrificing ourselves now to the Gods of obligation and self-righteousness?
But that is not the point of this. The point of this is, that no matter what Christmas has become to some, what it has been “manufactured’ into, that does not have to be what it is to you. Yes, you may have grown up with an idea of what this holiday would mean to you as a child and grown up to find that it wasn’t all about you anymore, that the point your parents and relatives were trying to give to you was that it was all about giving, giving what you couldn’t afford, what you couldn’t imagine, that friends and family and complete strangers would dedicate their time to one another unrequited and unapologetically.
For me, and now for my house, being a grown man figuring out what it means to build a new home, realizing that the place I felt home to be as a child now must necessarily be reborn in my own little family unit, I have decided to celebrate and love this time of year. I have decided that I will spread cheer and joy as much as I can, recognizing that it is not always joyful it’s true, but what do we sing? We sing we wish you a merry Christmas. We may not guarantee it, but all our hopes and dreams and wishes for you and those around you and those you love most is that it be a merry, joyful, happy, peaceful, loving, gracious, tender-hearted, unassuming, inclusive holiday, and at least that I think is something that I’m okay with being accused of. That’s what I’ve decided and declared Christmas to be, I have renamed it, and reclaimed it. I have re-purposed it, not to something new, but hopefully closer to to the core of what it was meant to be.