I went on leave today, and so I am officially gearing up for the festive season! Yay me!
I’m not one of those Christians that takes offence when I see a greeting card that says “Season’s Greetings” instead of “Merry Christmas”. And while the use of “X-Mas” in place of “Christmas” does indeed baffle me, I’m pretty indifferent to that too. If you want to celebrate “X”, whatever the heck that is, be my guest.
The debate sparks up every year, with atheists and other religions calling for the obliteration of the word “Christmas”, and Christians crying “Persecution, persecution!”
First of all, to fellow Christians, I say this: Jesus Christ foretold of this day, the day that we would be persecuted for His names’ sake. His instruction was to turn the other cheek, not to repay evil with evil, and hate with hate. Untie your nickers and live out what this season is really about: Love. Not ‘being right’. Love.
Secondly, fellow human beings: Whether you are Christian, Atheist, Buddhist, Islam, Jewish, New-age or believe in aliens… whoever we are, are we not of the same species and can we not just be mature about personal differences? It’s called tolerance, and is better described as Love.
Saying that, I’m actually here to complain – for the first time ever – about a Christmas greeting that accosted me on my Facebook page. All draped in green and gold and glitz, “Merry Shopping!” the advert proclaimed proudly.
Seriously?! Merry Shopping?!
Some of us, optimists at heart, have been desperately trying for decades to stick our head in the sand and adamantly deny the commercialization of this wonderful, sacred season.
As we adorn our Christmas trees in shiny baubles and glistening fairy lights, our hearts wonder if we have succumbed to it. ‘No,’ we assure ourselves. ‘This is still special. Christmas trees are special.’
As we wrap presents, inwardly cringing at the dent that they made in our already too-far-stretched bank accounts, we chide ourselves for being materialistic, but quickly shrug it off, magnanimously telling ourselves that we’re being generous and kind in the act of gift-giving.
We listen to silly carols about a moose with a red nose, and as we sit our children upon the lap of a fat Santa sweating profusely in a red suit, we console ourselves that we grew up this way and we turned out fine…
But did we…?
We live in a world where, for some, Christmas means a nicer meal on the soup-kitchen table, and for others it means a lavish holiday in Paris. Ok, maybe not Paris, not this year. Some spend Christmas begging at the same street corner that they do all year round, only this time they may trudge back to their shelter with a little more in their pockets, because people are ‘in the mood’ for giving. People have gone a little crazy with all that Christmas spirit!
How flippant. How utterly awful!
Ok, before you leave, I’m not here to rain on your parade. I’m not writing to decimate your Christmas spirit, but rather to reignite it. For Christians, we celebrate the coming of Jesus Christ into our dark world, bringing with Him hope, light and most of all, Love. And these are elements of humanity that can be embraced and celebrated by even those who are not of the Christian faith, which is what makes the Christmas season a universal miracle.
And that is why I find “Merry Shopping” so unequivocally repulsive, because it replaces the idea of love, togetherness, giving, family, thoughtfulness and kindness… with money, the accumulation of stuff, selfishness, and instant gratification. Cheap tricks to fill a human void.
So let me issue you with a challenge, a dare if you will, and it’s not about changing your choice of seasonal greeting: Enjoy Christmas – true Christmas (or whatever you want to call it).
Forgive. Love. Share. Be generous.
Then when the Christmas spirit dies down in January, hold it deep within your heart, because regardless of your belief, it is essentially the human spirit. Then continue to forgive… love…. share… and be generous… throughout the coming year.
Can you imagine what a different world this could be?
So Merry Christmas to you, now and all year long.