The Christmas season is both one of my favorite and least favorite times of the year. On the one hand, I love spending time with my family, the mythos wrapped around the season, the spirituality of it in terms of my Catholic faith, and of course, eggnog. But I have grown quite weary, as the season has devolved into corporate tycoons attempting to get any penny they can out of the mass population, people battling about the meaning of Christmas, people getting offended for about a certain coffee cup, and other pedantic details. In this age of technology, it would appear that we have forgotten what the true meaning of Christmas is, why we celebrate the holiday, and what we can do to change it.
First, we must understand that the main word, Christmas, is derived from the word “Christ”. While Christmas did not truly originate from Christianity and instead borrowed several aspects of Pagan beliefs, the purpose of Christmas is to bare witness of Christ’s birth. And I am a firm believer that one does not need to be a Christian to understand the reverence behind it. Christ preached love of all God’s creations, forgiveness of all, and that we are all beings capable of redemption. So Christmas, while it signifies the birth of the Messiah for many, also signifies the birth of a teacher that has irreversibly changed the course of history and theology, regardless of faith. The days leading up to Christmas, Advent, are meant to be days of reflection and preparation. So while Christmas did not start as a Christian holiday, it has become a pinnacle of faith for many across the world.
This is not to say that I believe in the statement “put Christ back in Christmas”. If Christ taught the world one thing, it is that we must love each other without prejudice or false notions. And warring against how people view Christmas goes against what Christ taught us. Christmas has become more than just a day of faith, it is a day of gathering, of celebration of family and friends, that we may give rather than take. Those core tenants are the cornerstones of the holiday season. One of my favorite memories of the Christmas season is that my family would always host a large Christmas eve party. And people from all faiths would celebrate with us. I had friends who were Catholic, Protestand, Jewish, atheist, the list goes on. And it was never a sense of you needed to be Christian to celebrate, rather it was a gathering of loved ones to celebrate a season of giving and love.
Too long we have forgotten that Christmas is a season of giving, faith, and family. It is not about how expensive your gifts are, how much you give, or even what food you eat. It is about the actions of giving. Saint Francis of Assisi said “For in giving, we receive.”, words that truly live up to the purpose of Christmas. So if I can leave you with one thought, it is this: Christians of every clime, celebrate according to your faith. It is meant to be a time of reflection and celebration of the birth of Christ. But do not hold against those who may not share the same thoughts as you. The beauty of Christmas is about the love of family and friends. And non-Christians, understand that Christmas is a holy time for Christians. In the same way that I urge all to respect the customs of religious holidays such as Yom Kippur and Ramadan, I ask you to remember what Christmas means to so many people. God’s blessings on you all, wherever you may go this Christmas season.
Merry Christmas – J. Fuller