On taking a giant step backwards….

Christmas is kind of an absurd time of year. It gets incredibly busy; extraordinary amounts of money are spent…on gifts and baking and electricity; churches practically go in to upheaval when it comes to Christmas productions and Advent Sundays and the like.
For me, Christmas has always been marked by these things. I love buying gifts for those I love and wrapping them in lovely paper and bows. If I could “replicate the intensity of the sun” on my tree and house, you better believe I would (can you say “Griswold Family Christmas”?)! My love of baking comes out in full force whereby I typically bake somewhere in the neighborhood of 500 cookies in one fell swoop. I’ve watched my church friends agonize over scheduling and participation and yadda yadda yadda.
Then there’s the point at which I come unglued about the religiousity of it all. Christmas, after all, celebrates the birth of Christ. Or does it? Sure, advent celebrates all the reasons, big and small, that Christ came on down to our messed up world. But does Christmas, with all its spending and busyness and general insanity, really celebrate Christ? I’m not sure it does.
I read a blog recently about the entitlement of Christmas. I’ll be the first one to admit that I’ve complained before about being told “Happy Holidays” rather than “Merry Christmas!” I don’t like that Christmas plays and songs at most schools these days are now called “Holiday Plays/Songs.” I think it’s a little ridiculous. But it did make me think a little bit…why is it that I think I’m the only one entitled to have her religious holiday represented? What about Hanukkah? Or Kwanza? Or people who just aren’t religious and simply want to have a day to celebrate friends and family and give each other pretty things? I talk a big game about not forcing religion down other people’s throats, but isn’t that exactly what I’m doing when I demand that people say “Merry Christmas!” to me or that there be a manger scene in front of city hall?
If you ask me, Christmas as we know it has far less to do with Christ than many of us Christians would have you believe. I’m all for the gifts and the lights and the music and the food, but would it kill me to step back and reflect, even for a moment, on the reasons Christ came to Earth, the manner in which He arrived, and His ultimate purpose in coming?
It won’t be any time soon that I stop celebrating Christmas the way I always have, with all the insanity and lights. But maybe all of this is why I love Christmas Eve so much more than Christmas morning. The stress stops. The night calms down. Everything is finished. And I can go to midnight mass with nothing on my mind except the miracle of what happened so long ago. It’s in the silentest of nights that I’m then able to sing about and reflect on the most holy of nights…

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