Saturday, December 24, 2011

What is Christmas?

December 24, 2011

Well, here we are again, Christmas Eve. Inevitably it comes every year... December 24th. I know is coming (not that its easy to miss) and there is no way around it...

I have been asked 100,000 times... "Why do you hate Christmas?" When the truth is, I do not "hate" Christmas. I should probably explain myself. There are a few really "obvious" and easy to understand reasons, but there are a few reasons that run pretty deep.

First... lets talk commercialism. I am not sure when it happened, but all of a sudden "Christmas" started happening before Thanksgiving. Personally, Thanksgiving is my favorite time of year and my favorite holiday. The day I get to spend with my family, there is no stress, there is no pressure, and it seems (except for the people who are actually preparing the meal) that people dont even think about Thanksgiving until the day of, I am not one of them. Its a day of reflection and a day to give thanks for all that we have in life. For those who we are blessed to be with and for those who have lost. We sit around the table and see where we come from, build our own traditions and keep our past traditions alive. It makes me feel warm.

What really really burns my ass is the fact that in a lot of peoples eyes... Thanksgiving is not about all that. Its about having the time off from work and the gateway to Christmas. Black Friday has become this huge phenomenon that I just cant understand and before my Turkey is even digested people are counting down the days till Santa comes. You can tell me that I dont have to listen to any of those people, and you can tell me that I dont have to "practice" those beliefs... but its nearly impossible to avoid hearing about it and seeing the commercialism of Christmas broad casted from Black Friday on. Thus beginning my dislike for the "holidays."

So here is some more... did you know that "St Nicholas" did not start at "Santa Clause?" Did you know that "St Nicholas Day" is actually December 6th and some countries still celebrate on that day? Did you know that the only reason St Nicholas became Santa Clause is because the "people" needed someone to "deliver gifts" on Christmas, and because of the stories of St Nicholas they made it up...

Here is one of the stories of how St Nicholas became the "gift giver" but no one knows if its true...

"There was a poor man who had three daughters. He was so poor, he did not have enough money for a dowry, so his daughters couldn't get married. (A dowry is a sum of money paid to the bridegroom by the brides parents on the wedding day. This still happens in some countries, even today.) One night, Nicholas secretly dropped a bag of gold down the chimney and into the house (This meant that the oldest daughter was then able to be married.). The bag fell into a stocking that had been hung by the fire to dry! This was repeated later with the second daughter. Finally, determined to discover the person who had given him the money, the father secretly hid by the fire every evening until he caught Nicholas dropping in a bag of gold. Nicholas begged the man to not tell anyone what he had done, because he did not want to bring attention to himself. But soon the news got out and when anyone received a secret gift, it was thought that maybe it was from Nicholas."

He was named a Saint at that point. He died on December 6th... and to this day some countries still celebrate on that day.

If you are Christian (and usually those who arent) you know the story of the birth of Christ, and the actual reason for Christmas being December 25th. You probably know that Jesus was brought three gifts... thus the modern tradition of "gift giving" on Christmas. What you might not know is that St Nicholas (later becoming Santa Clause) was a tale that was made up because of the stories of St Nicholas... he took off from there...

What started as "Father Christmas" and other names... who delivered gifts to children on Christmas has developed into a commercial nightmare for most because of commercialism and media. What started as three gifts being delivered to Jesus has developed into getting the best new gadget or the most popular toy. In a lot of peoples eyes the actual meaning behind those gifts is lost. Santa has stepped in and taken over the actual real meaning behind giving gifts.

Wow... that was a pretty high soap box.. I think I am getting a bloody nose.

On a more personal note. Christmas wasnt always as horrible for me. My Papa was the BEST Santa Clause on the planet. He would dress up and visit and light up the room. He was "Father Christmas" and lived his life giving to others. Putting a smile on peoples faces made him keep going for as long as he did. As a matter of fact, his Santa Suit is in my parents attic.. and I truly think there is magic in that box. His voice filled the church on Christmas Eve belting out Christmas Carols like he was the only on in the church...

For me growing up, Christmas was all about being with my family. Yes, we got presents under the tree... but the best gift of all was not the physical gift... it was the time I got to spend with the most important people in my life. The games we played, the laughs we shared, just the physical moments... I can never get those back but they will forever be in my heart.

Thats the night I love Christmas. The dim lights, the soft sounds of Silent Night... my Dad and Mom standing by my side as we sing Hark the Herald Angels Sing with tears in our eyes remember every Christmas with my Brother Joshua and my Papa... Thinking of the true meaning of Christmas and what its all about....

Its not about the gifts...  and as Dr Seuss said it best...

"And the Grinch, with his Grinch feet ice cold in the snow, stood puzzling and puzzling, how could it be so? It came without ribbons. It came without tags. It came without packages, boxes or bags. And he puzzled and puzzled 'till his puzzler was sore. Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn't before. What if Christmas, he thought, doesn't come from a store. What if Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more."

MERRY CHRISTMAS everyone... and please... take a minute to remember what Christmas is all about...

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