How a heathen can love Christmas
Christmas has always been one of my favorite holidays. In my opinion anytime it becomes acceptable to decorate your house like a glitter factory exploded is great with me. I love Christmas music, and the crowds and the shiny, shiny lights. 90% of the holiday season is great, until people start talking. There are many detractors to the Christmas cheer, and they all suck for various reasons.
The angry athiests
I am firmly in the NOT A CHRISTIAN camp. There are fundamental issues that I have with the religion that mean it’s not the home for me, but I do believe in God which makes me conventionally not an atheist. However as Ricky Gervais put it so well in a recent article, I am an atheist to a vast majority of the 2870 supernatural deities that have been recorded in man’s history. Ricky seems to be a happy atheist, he’s not being militant in attacking anyone about why they do believe in god, but there are those out there who replace their anger at, primarily the Christian church, with hateful rhetoric about how Christmas is stupid. They use Xmas and Xtian like swear words, they suck.
The angry Christians
These are the “war on Christmas” folk. Everywhere they turn people are suiting up for the final Christmas battle. The enemy is determined to wipe December 25th off the map. It is a horrible travesty that some people should say “happy holidays” as opposed to “Merry Christmas and Happy New Year”- personally I think it’s more about conservation of words than anything, but who am I? I don’t honestly understand why they are angry because they still seem to advocate for presents so I don’t know what they want, but they suck too.
The killers of Christmas magic
In my opinion these are the worst, because they seem to take glee in killing the magic of Santa Claus for other peoples children. They tend to fall into 2 subgroups- the “no fat white man brings presents” and the “Jesus is the reason for the season”- I think they both miss the point. Santa is, like Christmas is, about the lesson. For me the whole meaning of Christmas is “peace on Earth and goodwill toward mankind.” That is a message I can get behind. Santa is also part of the social contract, like vaccines and washing your hands. If you choose to not participate in the magic of Santa, that is fine, but don’t send your kids out there to take the joy away from anyone’s child. The gradual shift from literal belief that he comes to a more figurative understanding is a good thing. I recall being crushed by the Easter bunny, but Santa never let me down.
They are generally grumpy and terse year round, so why should glitter and bells change that.
What Christmas really is- to me
In the literal sense, Christmas is supposed to be a celebration of Jesus’ birthday, except there is no real way of knowing if it is on December 25, or July 9th. Chances are, if people were traveling it wasn’t in December and biblical scholars can’t even reconcile how this narrative even makes sense. So why December? The early Christian marketing machine realized that if you want to convert people and keep them that way, you gotta put on some razzle-dazzle! Saturanlia, and probably a good number of other pagan holiday- are centered on the Solstice and everyone needs some light in the cold, gray days of winter. I imagine that the Church said “hey you godless heathens, Jesus happened to be born this time of year too! So put down that thing and come to church, there will be presents!” This doesn’t mean that Christmas isn’t a celebration of Jesus’ birth, it just means don’t be so literal in thinking we picked the exact right day.
Christmas is less about celebrating a real birthday and more about celebrating a man that a good portion of the world looks at as a savior. Jesus was all about giving of himself with no expectation of reciprocation. So is Santa. If you are going to go into the season with Jesus in your heart, you have room for Santa too. St. Nick, is not about greed or excess or an excuse to ask for ridiculous things (or the obligation to oblige your kids requests for ridiculous things) he is about giving of yourself, what you are able without expecting something in return. There is nothing more noble, or more Christian, than that. It irks me to no end when people focus on the material side, versus the lesson. Yes it is easy to get caught up in the buying of stuff- but no one is making anyone spend to excess, that is personal choice.
This year I learned a new fact, Xmas and Xian aren’t taking the Christ out of anything. They are, in fact, putting the Christ so far in there he’s reaching back to the old world. X, as any frat boy, prostatot er sorrority girl, or Greek student can tell you is pronounce Chi which is a big part of Christ. There is some speculation that the X looks like a cross, but I don’t buy that so much. The word “holiday” is literally a composite of “holy” and “day” so all the disrespect that the angries hurl at each other is really just nonsense.
Christmas is about the lesson that Jesus, was supposed to, teach us. Be a good person. Christmas is an excuse to fill your home and heart with internal and external symbols of joy, happiness and love. Sparkle, glitter, snowflakes and reindeer make it that much more enjoyable to give presents to the people I love. A Christmas carol in my heart makes it that much more rewarding to help a stranger in need. I don’t need presents and bows, or a building and a preacher to appreciate a near-global time of year to embrace good. That’s how a heathen can love Christmas.