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The Evolution of Christmas
Beliefs that Separate Us
Our diverse culture as Americans reveals a distinction, separated by a social dogma where personal connotations are archived in the various beliefs we have about the celebration of Christmas. Our national aspirations, along with the state of our economy, even our individual character are all in some way connected to December 25th. However, to associate religion, specifically Christianity with Christmas, has become optional.
Maybe unbelievers and the cynical are the ones who have it all figured out. Perhaps the meaning of Christmas should evolve. Maybe we should replace tradition with a politically correct format that excludes ‘Christ’ from Christmas. While we're at it we should all learn to say “Season Greetings” or “Happy Holidays” and in doing so we can all better accommodate the beliefs and lifestyles of the highly sensitive and enlightened progressives who feel that those who believe in God and prefer a traditional Christmas should all have no say in the matter. As far as they are concerned, we should all just fail to exist just like a Christmas that honors our Lord and Savior.
The arguments of the cynical vary, as some contend that the origins of Christmas come from 4th century paganism, while others claim that celebrating Christmas is pointless, basing their opinion on the belief that Jesus Christ is a fictional character or a used car salesman at best. These would be the people who picket and scream about equality at the state capitol in effort to have "In God We Trust" removed from every courthouse, claiming it unduly infringes upon their beliefs that we evolved from tiny microscopic organisms living in the ocean. Then there are those who for better or worse, now chain themselves to products, believing that consumerism should define Christmas. Their contentions may look to preserve the almighty dollar but their Christmas cheer doesn't equal a two lumps of coal in a stocking.
These are the same folks you see at the mall spending thousands of dollars on a bunch of stuff they don't need, just to carry it all back to house somewhere in suburbia that's been decorated with $2,000 worth of Christmas lawn ornaments. However, despite having an inflatable $800 Santa on the front lawn, a nativity scene is nowhere to be found. The really sad part is if you take that same family and send them back to 1974, I guarantee the Nativity scene would be on full display in their front yard.
It's very sad how people have forgotten the intended reasons we celebrate Christmas. It seems that over time, the more preoccupied we've become with money, the more we as American's have failed to remember the true meaning of December 25th. While everyone is entitled to their opinions, that doesn’t necessarily make what they suggest right, or the truth. Nor does it make it an argument with merit.
While many Americans still hold onto the last vestiges of a traditional Christmas, corporate voracity takes aim at children, mostly by using subliminal advertising to program them into cynical and materialistic consumers.
When you consider the high-growth global economy we live in that pressures corporations to begin plotting Christmas marketing strategies in July, maybe we should just give into the idea that Jesus no longer plays a role in what has obviously become a holiday more about money and products than anything else.
To base Christmas on a corporate objective that intends to out-perform the competition by selling the crap out of products from Black Friday to Christmas Eve is a perspective that seems to redefine Christmas into something more of us can make sense of. Christmas should be simply a boost to our economy. It should be celebrated as a holiday that boosts sales and launches our gross domestic product into the heavens. We should all bow our heads and give thanks that economists now have a sensible justification to predict prosperity for the coming new year. Yes, this sounds much better than Christmas being a celebration that brings families together so we can give thanks for all God’s blessings.
Economic Implications for the Wealthy
With billions in profits at stake for corporations, as they fight each other for your dollar simply so they can meet shareholder expectations, why not declare the spirit of Christmas as a holiday with no other significance than its economic implications for the wealthy. This argument may be practical and easy, but comes at the expense of human kindness.
The cynics may advocate materialism, but they sacrifice heart and spirit in the process while missing out on all the fun that Christmas begets each year. Through constant marketing instructing us we need to upgrade or that a product makes you happy or skinny, or somehow fulfills your deepest desires remains the corporate intent. We have become targeted for consumption by those who would have us believe that without the latest and greatest new thing our lives are incomplete.
Excessive purchasing is easily measured by the trash bins sitting on the curb the day after Christmas, as many will be filled with electronics that still work, clothes that still fit or food that was still edible before being thrown away. To be lured into a life of over-consumption while charity bins sit empty represents a complete disconnect from why we celebrate Christmas.
This is exactly what the incredibly wealthy want you to do. They want you to stand in front of a wardrobe crammed full of clothes and say to yourself that you have nothing to wear. Corporations don’t care about you, even though they try their hardest to make you think that they do by sponsoring so called “social responsibility” programs.
However, if this were true, why would a company knowingly sell a product that is made to break, sometimes within weeks after we buy it. Proof of this was apparent as flat screen televisions cornered the market, seemingly forcing consumers into buying one. The very sinister element to this monopoly was the design flaw that every flat screen manufacturer was aware of, yet never told consumers about, essentially making millions of dollars off their little omission.
What am I referring to? When people went out in search of the newest flat screen television, they were never told by the salesman at Best Buy that if they cleaned the screen with Windex and a paper towel that it would ruin the screen.
For 50 years, Americans used the combination of glass cleaner and a paper towel or a rag to wipe the dust off their television screens without incident. Then, flat screen TV’s take over the market, essentially forcing everyone to buy one, yet they have this huge flaw that they fail to tell consumers about. It wasn’t mentioned in the instructions. No warning in the owner’s manual or from the retailer. The result of course is that it made everyone who fell victim to this scam have to go out and buy another TV.
This is what corporations do. This is what they want and what they expect from consumers. They spend millions of dollars every year to design marketing strategies that are geared toward making you believe that their products are something you really need. Or in the case of Flat screen TV manufacturers, they simply force the need for the product upon you, leaving you no choice but to buy it. Then what do they do? They sit back and laugh at you as they sell you a product that they know will likely break, meanwhile they earn twice as much from each consumer because they are forced to go back and buy another TV. It’s a vicious cycle created by extremely wealthy individuals who care nothing about you except getting your hard earned dollar.
The Aspirations of the Materialistic
Consumerism has transformed Christmas into making people believe they need more stuff than they actually need. All one must do is simply observe the increase over the past 10 years of highly prolific storage unit facilities that graciously hold onto all the extra stuff we can no longer manage to fit into our homes.
For those who choose the materialistic aspirations of Christmas indulgence, I suppose the true intent of a traditional Christmas has lost any meaning it may have once had. For them, they have found content in spending the holidays absorbed in consumption. However, to assume that Christmas is only about consuming would be the same as believing Thanksgiving is simply about eating. If this were true, gluttony and materialism would be why we celebrate both.
In this aspect, we could all simply call ourselves repulsive and thankless. We could trudge our way through the last two months of the year without an ounce of generosity that encourages the basic human decency we all share.
Don’t get me wrong, this is not a rally cry against consumerism. I am a business major and an entrepreneur. I understand the importance of supply and demand and can’t imagine embracing a Christmas morning where a bare floor sat underneath a Christmas tree, but consuming just for the sake of consuming is as unrewarding as it is lackluster, and it only serves to fill the already deep pockets of corporate sponsored greed.
The American Christmas
Personally, I believe we need to remember the balanced mix we once had about 25 years ago where people still celebrated Christmas by recognizing the birth of Jesus while using practical sensibility to buy gifts that put a smile on the faces of those who received them.
I'm not suggesting we embrace the asceticism of Ebeneezer Scrooge, but by over-doing Christmas consumption we are making the merriment of the holidays something closely reminiscent of sacrilegious. For many, that wouldn't matter, in fact, it's a concept that they embrace with open arms. The unbelievers could then sigh in relief as we completely eradicate religion and all traces of Christianity from every facet of life in America. Finally, they could have the Utopian, new age world they have so longed for. A world without the pesky limitations that Gods commandments places on us, keeping society in moral compliance.
However, the great danger of such a pervasive ideology is the emptiness and anguish that comes from such a complacent and covetous society. Imagine a world where the heart beats in feverish pursuit of frivolous pleasure. Imagine an existence that was nothing more than a compound of self-serving gratification that never included regret for any of it.
To live without the rules of morality would create chaos, infecting our social evolution with a blunted, immoral and unjust conscience. Our lives would be grounded in self-interest where we wallowed in decadent and ignorant bliss without concern or consideration for ourselves or the needs of others.
While some may have already reached such an unattractive and meaningless existence, it’s Christianity that keeps the majority of people morally diligent as human-beings. The potential consequence of allowing consumerism to replace Christianity as the meaning of Christmas has become apparent by the shift in the question we once asked at Christmas which was “how can Christ help me serve my neighbor” to today's question which is "how can everyone else and the government serve me and my needs? Unfortunately, we are dangerously close to such a selfish disposition immortalizing the recurring theme that defines the spirit of an American Christmas.
We have allowed consumerism to rule our lives. As a result, Christianity is quickly becoming just one more brand that might be included a festive Christmas display at some shopping mall or on front lawns of suburbia. Many who were raised in Christian households have forgotten what their parents taught them about the expectation of obedience that God has for us, and the importance of having an allegiance to Christ.
Instead, so many stress over a perpetual consumption of merchandise which strives to fulfill a fantasy experience for their eight-year old child. A child who saw a commercial for a toy, and then started to cry because they didn’t have the toy and can’t live unless they get one for Christmas. Instead of explaining the true meaning of Christmas to the child, parents simply say, “I bet Santa will bring it for you, but only if you stop crying”.
We have chosen to live without the values and ethics of God, trading our Christian beliefs for shared values based on our consumer culture. We’ve essentially taken on a new identity that has no reverence for Christ, or any concern for the day when we stare at death and realize we lived our entire lives without ever knowing Jesus.
Such a thought must make a person wonder if heaven and hell are both real places, and if so, when confronting the last minutes of life will you be comfortable knowing that heaven is where you’re going? I don’t know about you, but dying with the thought that I may possibly be headed for hell would be a worse death than being eaten by a shark or having the hood pulled over my eyes just before the needle goes into your arm. The sad thing is that if you wait until then to think about how you lived your life without ever knowing Jesus, by then it’s too late.
You see? That’s the truest and most profound reason why we celebrate Christmas. It's not so Christians can acknowledge that December 25th is actually the birth date of Christ. We all know that it isn’t. Furthermore, who cares that Christmas was originally conceived by pagans? That was over 1600 years ago. The importance of Christmas is what it became.
Over time it evolved into a holiday where families gathered together for one day out of the year, and blessings were counted while thankful prayers were delivered to God. It's the day we simply recognize that Christ was born, and that the miracle of His birth was that He gave us the Commandment of love. We see it as the day which praises His sacrifice on the cross, and by that sacrifice we all might be saved if we simply believe in Him.
I've never understood why people are so offended by this. Is it out of guilt? Disbelief? Or is it simply that don't want to live by the rules which keeps them from living a lifestyle that they know God would not approve of, so out of spite they condemn everything associated with Christianity?
Jesus laid down his life so that everyone else from then until now could share eternal paradise in heaven. Wow! This is without question the noblest sacrifice one can make for another and without a doubt represents the best gift anyone could ever hope to receive. So why all the discontent that raises such a fuss over those who accept the bible as fact? Unfortunately, many have forgotten what was once a given in this country. They would rather discount the truth, and reject the accuracy of the bible so they can go on about living a life of immorality and indulgence without ever having a need for regret or guilt.
Making The Case For Christ
There are many problems with the assertions which question the validity of the bible, especially when you look at it from a prophetic perspective. The fact is that its the only book ever written that includes prophecies that have never been wrong. It's the only book that has always guessed right. However, when it comes to Jesus we're all just supposed to believe that the scriptures somehow got muddled with lies and false accounts when those chapters were written. That they must have been written by four old delusional drunk guys who had no clue of what was going on around them. Ideas like these come from people who have never actually read the bible.
Christmas is the one day of the year when people, in some way or another, at the very least, should have the name ‘Jesus Christ’ cross their mind. It’s the one day that many may be reminded of the sacrifice that was paid for their salvation. Perhaps in some way this will inspire them to pick up a bible and begin to read, and if so, the purpose we celebrate Christmas and its true meaning becomes clear.
If just one person out of the hundreds of millions that happen to think of Jesus on Christmas, if just one picks up the bible and begins to read, then certainly the meaning of Christmas has served its purpose. If just one person has their eyes opened to see beyond what Christmas has become and then they make the life changing decision to seek God through Christ, they earn their salvation. By avoiding a lifestyle that moves through life as a materialistic consumer, then the miracle and true intent of Christmas has been recognized.
God is always pleased when one finds their way back to His grace. It’s this miracle that defines the true meaning of Christmas. Sometimes it simply takes removing the blinders of misguided social influence or getting past the corporate sponsored brainwashing that tells you happiness can only be found in the products you buy. If you can put such foolishness aside, then you can see the truth about Christmas. To know the truth is liberating. As is knowing that you have your salvation.