What is Christmas?
Posted: Friday, December 14, 2012 7:00 pm
By JEREMY M. THAYER
Special to the Press
I have a simple, yet profound, question for you: “What is Christmas?”
Everyone has an opinion, and most believe that they are right. After all, this is only a three worded question that should be easy, if not of child-like skill to answer. Yet, factually speaking, most Americans today either have a generic interjection to this question that has been drilled into their heads from childbirth or simply do not have a clear, intelligible answer.
Many would say that Christmas is all about “family.” But upon critical thought, it must be said that truly this is a lame answer. Shouldn’t it be about “family” the other 364 days of the year? To say that Christmas is all about “family” is to discount, if not neglect, all of the other special and worthy moments throughout the year. In this mixed-up world, because it is only about “family” in many people’s hearts a few days out of the year; sadly that is why prisons and divorce courts are filled daily.
Still others would say that Christmas is about “gifts” and “giving of one’s self.” This too, is of very cheap phrasing and prose. This is truly because very few people in this world today actually give anything, without the expectation of something in return. For example: Among many Christian believers it is found that they only “give of their selves” for the returned hope of heaven or some sort of blessing from on high. Not to interrupt anyone’s theology, but I never read where Jesus fought in the bazaar on Black Shabbat to snag a deal, or fought with his relatives for his presents, under a lighted fig tree. Jesus taught to “deny yourselves and take up your cross,” Not “give of yourselves to receive what I think I deserve.” (OUCH!)
To the more secular world, the common gift-giver expects some sort of token or acknowledgement for their generosity. If they do not receive such, they feel cheated and contemplate not giving them a gift next year. For example, have you ever played “dirty Santa” and then get the “ugly” gift? Did you feel blessed or grateful to even be receiving something, or was a gripe found upon your lips afterwards?
Exactly! I proved my point.
There are many more examples that I could use, and I know that this kind of thinking, if not accusation, is usually met with either extreme denial or rage. Most do not wish to think that they could be lacking in something, especially at Christmas time. People like to think of themselves as goodly, nice, and charitable, and to a great extent they usually are. But to truly gauge this question of “What is Christmas?” one must look at it in a different light.
What if this was your last Christmas, the last one you will ever celebrate or see?
How would you act?
What would you do?
If you knew you were going to die before the end of next year, how much more would you celebrate this Christmas? How many more carols would you sing? How many more parties and gatherings would you attend? How many more gifts would you give? How much more charitable would you be? I know that these questions seem like ones made by pushy insurance salesmen or funeral home directors, but seriously… what if?
Christmas takes on a much different importance and meaning upon the horrid thought that it could be taken away. Would it then actually matter if you didn’t get the gift you wanted? Would it then be of any real importance if you didn’t get the bonus check or vacation time that you feel that you deserve? Traditionally, this is known around the world as the “Time of giving” and the “Time of sharing,” yet in 2012 for far too many it is only the time of “ungratefulness and complaint.”
To answer the question, “What is Christmas?” Christmas is love. The love that a Savior would leave his throne in glory to ultimately degrade himself, first in a feeding trough called a manger; and then upon a bloody cross, so that people throughout the generations might know true love, peace, and joy through the gift of his sacrifice. Truly, that word “sacrifice” is seldom spoken in 2012.
People have lost their jobs throughout this land, yet where is your sacrifice of Christmas? Children are found starving, without proper clothing or shoes, without suitable shelter or warmth. Yet, where is your Christmas? You might live another 70 years, yet there are children as well as seniors, that will die this year without knowing the love of Christmas. The self-same Christmas Spirit that many boastfully claim they have in their hearts. It should truly be said of Christmas that actions speak louder than words and gifts.
Now wait a minute!
It factually must be said that there is plenty of help and benevolence throughout our land, especially this time of year. As Scrooge rightly observed, “Are there no workhouses? Are there no prisons?” However, Ebenezer’s true yet seemingly vile words in today’s world would sound more like, “Are there no fruit baskets? Are there no toy drives? Are there no charities? After all, why should it matter what happens to anyone else as long as I get my Ipad?” The true meaning of Christmas is seemingly always someone else’s responsibility in 2012.
In closing, simply put: Go love, show love, and give love: for this is the meaning of Christmas. Not just to your “family” and “that you might receive” but to the hurting and the thankless and to the stranger. Give, expecting nothing. Love, expecting miracles. Boxes and bows with tinsel and holly are nice, Trees all a glitter and lights shining at night are seemingly magical at Christmastime, but they are meaningless without showing the love of Christ.
Martin resident Jeremy M. Thayer may be contacted by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Published in The WCP 12.13.12