Friday, December 23, 2016

42727 :: What is Christmas really all about?

Not to be snarky or Miss Grinchy britches, but this is what makes my head spin this time of year...

Now first, let me preface my rant by stating that I am a sucker for the Budweiser Clydesdales at any time of the year, and the snowmen feeding the Wells Fargo horses their carrot noses? I think that is an absolutely brilliant and timeless bit of marketing.

Snowy landscapes and houses lit up at night? Gorgeous!
But, "Does this say Christmas or what?" ... No
Grandparents reading a book to a child on their lap? Adorable!
But, "This is what Christmas is all about!" ...Still, No.
I have absolutely no problem whatsoever with enjoying the different seasons of the year. I don't think it's an abomination to decorate your house with snowflakes and snowmen to celebrate the cold weather, or even poinsettias to bring a contrast of color to brighten up the home any more than I think it's heresy to set out lawn chairs and eat watermelon in the summer, or hang out a flag to celebrate our country's independence.

But when someone says, "That just says 'Christmas' to me, I can't help but wonder why some of the very same people are the first to say "Let's Keep Christ in Christmas!" in response to all the over-the-top commercialism that abounds this time of year.

The word "Christmas" has somehow morphed to being synonymous with Winter. Or is it the other way around? Yes, I know all about the history of the church's subverting of pagan traditions and replacing them with religious meaning. Symbolism is a very powerful thing. There is symbolism all through Scripture. It is through the telling of stories and drawing pictures and correlations in our mind that truths take root and we remember the significance of a thing. That is why Aesop's Fables have lasted for centuries. That is why the morality tales that people have come to call "Fairy Tales" and "Nursery Rhymes" are still so popular. They paint a picture and leave the hearer or reader with a lasting lesson that they can relate to.

But, I seem to have drifted off-course a bit... so let me rein it in: I think we hold a double-standard when we cry "Foul!" at Christmas being subverted by commercialism, then turn around ourselves and equate any charming Winter-y or family scene with a "Christmas" vibe. If Christmas is supposed to be all about the Christ child coming, then tell me please: Where exactly is the Christ child in a snowy winter scene? And, yes, families are dear (or they were designed to be. I'm not suggesting everyone has fond memories of childhood or their family), but please don't misunderstand me when I say: I love traditions and family time as much as the next person. It's just that my mind does a distinct disconnect when it comes to calling something what it most definitely is not.

Call me a concrete literalist, if you will. Celebrate Christmas if that is your tradition. But can we at least be honest that Christmas is not about snowflakes and candy canes? Christ did not come to deliver a sleighful of presents. He is not found at the tip of a fir tree decked out in your picture window. Truth be told, he did not come in December at all, and that is another rant that has already been sung.

We are being dishonest with ourselves and each other when we say one thing yet act differently. Setting up a manger scene in the front yard, with Santa kneeling at the crĂȘche may be cute, but it's dishonest. When truth and tradition collide, I think it's very telling when we choose tradition over truth for the sake of not stepping on toes.