You Can't Really Ruin Christmas

Last night during at our Senior High Youth Group, we had some fruitful discussion regarding Christmas and the celebration of the holiday itself.  I showed them the Advent Conspiracy video and Shane Claiborne’s “Buy Nothing Day” video.  We talked about Santa, presents, and the arguments surrounding nativities on public spaces.  Very fruitful discussion, especially enjoyed the nativities one where we agreed that they shouldn’t be tacky.  

In my local town, we have a nativity scene on some public space that also shares a Hanukkah display.  I, for one, have no problem with it. Both are appropriate and I like driving past it.  I shared last night that there’s a house I saw recently that had the worst nativity set that I remember seeing.  It was so bad that I questioned if the house belonged to a Christian or a mean-spirited, non-believer.  The Joseph looked like a giant lego and the Mary was unsightly and the whole scene was just terrible.  In fact, it made me reconsider my faith and I’m fairly certain that if I were not a follower of Christ, I would have driven past it and it would have re-confirmed my doubts in Christianity.  In fact, if any hope, peace, love and beliefs of transcendence had crept into my unbelieving life, I think I would have had to gone some place and repented of these holy thoughts because I would have been at risk of believing.  It was so awful, that I think the plastic baby Jesus is trying to crawl out of it as you read this.  

I feel that some have made the nativity scene the official symbol of Christmas.  Although I appreciate symbols and love a beautiful nativity scene, to me, it does not symbolize Christmas for it waters down it’s meaning (again, I write “to me”).   

Speaking of symbols, I like Santa Claus.  I think he’s a fantastic figure. Not more important than Jesus mind you, but fantastic nonetheless.  Though I do believe that he is far too exalted, I do enjoy the myth that surrounds him.  I like Rudolph and the other reindeer, the North Pole and the elves and the toy-making and all that goes on with it.  I like the legend of St. Nicholas and I like buying Coca-Cola with Santa on the label. Why?  Nothing spiritual about it, I just like it.

Most days, I like the idea of gift-buying.  There is goodness in such tangible expressions of blessings (like coming to the Lord’s table and celebrating the Eucharist). Though it is easily overblown, I confess that I do enjoy buying something “extravagant” for a loved one every so often. What I don’t enjoy (nor understand) is the need to buy a sweater or gadget or mug for every one you know and I have never been able to comprehend how fruitcake ever came to be a suitable gift for anyone (my personal theory is that it was meant as a prank but someone decided to make some money off of it).

If you’ve been able to read this far, here’s where I am going with this.  I don’t believe that Jesus can be taken out of Christmas.  I do not buy into this helpless feeling that you can lose the meaning of Christmas (just like you can’t ruin a trip to Jerusalem just because those guys keep trying to sell you the Bibles with the wooden covers on them.  If you’ve been there, you know what I mean).

Forget about “seasons greetings versus happy holidays versus Merry Christmas”, Christmas only loses its magic if you were focused on the wrong parts of it to begin with.  You can’t ruin Christmas and if it is then it was our own fault for that would mean our hearts were not focused on worshipping Christ or celebrating the Incarnation of our Lord.


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