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The Search for the Meaning of Christmas
What is your favorite Christmas Movie?
Where is Christmas?
There are people out there that just don’t get it.
I have heard more bellyaching this year from people who apparently can’t get into the holiday spirit than any other.
I’m not talking about non-Christians who don’t celebrate, either. That’s a different thing altogether. It’s one thing to not have the Christmas spirit and say, “Well, I’m (fill in the blank for appropriate religion).” It’s okay. I really don’t care. If you practice a religion that dictates a strong celebration of doing a fish slapping dance, just be sure to watch out for the large albacore at the end of it.
I’m talking about people who have traditionally celebrated the Yuletide.
I grew up Catholic. Christmas has always been near and dear to my heart for many different reasons. I have great nostalgic feelings of family and friends. I remember going to Catholic masses at midnight and celebrating with my parents and friends a great breakfast in the wee hours of the morning. I also have childhood memories of opening presents while my bleary eyed parents watched me open my toys.
Jack Frost has nipped at my nose on many a silent night, holy night and they have passed with a warm Yuletide glow in my soul. It’s Christmastime and people rejoice.
Now there are new complaints and I’m here to remind you that those people are lost and need a bit of a beacon to find their way home.
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The Supposed War on Christmas
If there was ever a stinking pile of rotting baloney slices made for the holiday, the “War on Christmas” is it. You hear it every year. I envision some pious old woman who is sending out these hackneyed old timey memes and waiting until some Archie Bunker wannabe to get outraged and make them viral. Tell me if the following sound familiar:
- No one’s going to take away my Jesus!
- Why can’t I say Merry Christmas to anyone?
- I don’t want to say “Happy Holidays!” It’s Merry Christmas!
- Christmas is Jesus’ birthday! Why can’t we set up a nativity in front of city hall?
If these issues are real to you and annoy you, I hate to tell you, but you’re just part of the problem. I find a deep irony that people who let these issues ruin their lives are missing the joy and feelings of peace that they’re supposed to have during the season.
Let me address these issues in turn.
No one is going to take away your Jesus – unless you’re my unfortunate friend who had her baby Jesus stolen off her lawn nativity scene. Someone took her Jesus and that person really needs to bring it back. She feels quite violated. Other than that, no one is interested in keeping you from worshipping Jesus during the holidays. If you want to set up a nativity scene in front of your home or decorate it with statues of the angel Gabriel, go crazy. We really have no interest in stopping you.
Why can’t I say “Merry Christmas” to anyone? Say “Merry Christmas” to Christians. I wouldn’t wish a “Happy Kwanzaa” to a Christian nor would I say “Happy Chanukah” to a Muslim. Do you get it now? Some people aren’t Christian. I know it’s hard for some Christians to believe but there are other belief systems out there. “Happy Holidays” just fits better. In that, you get the entire season. You get Christmas, Chanukah, Kwanzaa, the winter solstice, and National Fish Slapping Day.
In case you haven’t noticed we live in a multicultural world filled with many different types of people who live here. We are primarily a secular culture since we used “We the People” in our constitution instead of “In the name of Holy God we declare”. Church and state are separate.
I don’t want to say “Happy Holidays!” It’s “Merry Christmas!” Technically, it isn’t. If we actually went by the astronomy of the Bible, the Christmas Star shined in the spring and not in December. The early church simply hijacked the winter solstice from the Pagans along with almost everything else that people associate with Christmas. Santa Claus, snowmen, Christmas Trees, mistletoe, reindeer, nutcrackers, elves, and stockings all have Pagan, Yuletide, and Heathen origins. It is only the nativity and the angel Gabriel that are biblical and of Christian origin. And angels belong to other faiths as well.
Christmas is Jesus’ birthday! Why can’t we set up a nativity in front of city hall? It is exactly because Christmas is Jesus’ birthday that it is not set up in front of city hall. Muslims pay taxes, too. So do Jews. So do Pagans. So do Atheists. When a body represents an impartial group representing the Law, it must not bow to one specific group. A safe decoration is a winter solstice that simply says, “Season’s Greetings”.
So, is there a war on Christmas? No. There is a war on religion in government. Maybe. I know that if we were to observe Muslim holidays in the same way we observe Christian ones, people would freak out completely. That’s just a fact. Remember when a mosque wanted to set up shop near Ground Zero in New York and all of the media lost their minds? Think about that the next time there’s a nativity scene on the courthouse grounds and a Muslim man needs to fight a traffic ticket.
People haven’t lost the Christmas Spirit – They’re just shallow
The latest lament I’ve heard is that people can’t seem to find the Christmas spirit this year. They have gone to the mall expecting to find the joyous tunes of “Silver Bells”, “Jingle Bells”, “Silent Night”, and “Santa Claus is Coming to Town”. When they get there and they fail to hear these tunes they say that they can’t find the Christmas Spirit.
How do I put this kindly?
Do you remember Raiders of the Lost Ark? The Nazis have a copy of the headpiece to the Staff of Rah that had markings on one side. Indiana Jones is talking to the Arabian translator and asks if the headpiece had the height written down on it. He said that the staff had to be six kaddams high and on the other side it was written to take back one kaddam to honor the Hebrew god whose ark this is. The Nazis’ staff was too long and they were digging in the wrong place.
It’s like that.
If Christmas means going to the mall and listening to electronic versions of Christmas songs piped in as you go shopping for gifts, I hate to break this to you but you’re shallow. Your staff is too long and you’re digging in the wrong place.
I strongly would suggest you go back and read “A Christmas Carol” by Charles Dickens. You don’t need to be Christian. As a matter of fact, Jesus is hardly mentioned within the story. What you need is a soul. You need to remember that it is specifically this time of year that we must remember to be kinder to other people and to reach out to the ones we love. It’s a matter of remembering that mankind should be your business – not the deal you got from Amazon.com.
This is not the time to work your people to death if you own a business, either. Show some compassion and let them get home to their families. Don’t be stingy with the yearly bonuses either. Remember the chains you forge in life are the ones that you will carry for eternity. When you labor long and hard and selfishly concern yourself with material things, those are all you will gain. Remember, you can’t take it with you into the next world.
Christmas is that special time when we need to step back and take stock of who we are. Who are you as a person? Are you someone who has sold your soul to spend more time at the office or are you the guy who can look at himself in the mirror without flinching? This is the opportunity we get to sip from the cup of human kindness and savor that giddy feeling that we do indeed love our friends and families.
Thanksgiving is about gratitude. Christmas is about love and compassion.
I want you to know that I’m not talking out of my rectum. This year has been hard for me.
I’ve been in a financial pit of despair for the last eight months. New York unemployment does not allow for extensions after six months of benefits and for the last month and a half I’ve had to scrape what I could to get by to heat my home and pay the necessary bills – electric, gas, cable, and phone. I need what I have to get a job that pays closer to what I was earning.
To make ends meet, I took a seasonal job as a UPS helper. That means I go on the truck and help the driver deliver his packages to other people. This has been a real test of my own character. I have to divorce myself from the fact that I have nothing and that I’m doing a job for just over minimum wage or approximately one fourth of my old salary. In the meantime, I’ve been tasked to go to the largest, most opulent homes in central New Jersey, while carrying heavy expensive gifts up to their well landscaped lawns.
I’ll be fifty years old within two months. The work is hard. By the time I’ve finished, I’ve walked eight miles with heavy packages. When I get home, I can hardly walk.
I am not bitter. Every check represents another day that I can heat my home, keep the lights on, and feed my pets. Plus I get to be like Santa Claus, bringing people their gifts and getting a warm smile from the ones that see me leave their packages on their front stoop. For an instant, I actually feel good about where I am and what I’m doing.
On the other hand, I’m not a happy man either. Each day is a trial. My entire body hurts. I’m taking ibuprofen like candy. When I can sleep, it’s with a prayer that I hope things will get better and that my family will be safe from the circumstances that I can’t get out of.
Remember, the Grinch needed to grow his heart three sizes. Once I did, I found the strength of ten Grinches plus two.
All I have left is the love that I carry in my heart. I love my friends and I love my family. I take time to enjoy the moments that I have with them and I try to make the most of what we have. Being kind costs nothing. Smiling and joking around are cheap. I know that I can’t solve all my problems but for a few weeks, I know that I can have a little peace on earth and I can have a little goodwill toward my fellow man.
© 2015 Christopher Peruzzi