Keeping Christmas In Christmas
Well, Christmas has come and gone for 2013 and, for many of you, so too are your Christmas trees and decorations. As for us - my family and I - we’ll be taking down our tree and decorations and restoring our home back to normal after the Feast of the Three Kings. In the Christian calendar, at least the Catholic one, Christmas ends on a week later with the celebration of Jesus’ baptism and, while I do celebrate Christmas secularly and socially like everyone else, there is part of me that, thanks to my Catholic upbringing, celebrates Christmas for what it really is - the celebration of Jesus’ birth and the resulting hope and joy that a long-awaited messiah brought the then Jewish people who would eventually become the first Christians. I’m not a ‘holy roller’ by any means. You can ask any of my friends to verify this but, let’s face it, we wouldn't be exchanging gifts and saying “Merry Christmas!” or putting up trees if there was never that first Christmas with a manger, a donkey, Mary and Joseph, a star, three wise men, and shepherds over two thousand years ago.
I mentioned in the previous paragraph that Christmas ends on the feast of the baptism of Jesus. Some of you might be saying that it ended at 12:01am between December 25 and 26. That was Christmas Day. Christmas is a season that runs from Christmas Day to the Baptism of Jesus. And, it’s a season that fosters good will and kindness between people - although sometimes I’m hard pressed to see that at the malls and other shops during long checkout lines and around crowded display cases. I’m not perfect by any means. Don’t get me wrong. I get impatient and frustrated too but I’m proud to say it’s not because of long lines or crowds. One has to expect those things this time of year. What I get impatient and frustrated about are the fact that consumers and retailers are so quick to push the holiday season upon us for a buck - Christmas decorations have been popping up in stores earlier and earlier every year - and they are as equally quick to shut it down. A New York radio station, from about three weeks before Christmas Day, plays only Christmas music. Once Boxing Day comes around, it’s back to normal. Yes, the songs at the top of the charts help pay the station’s bills but there’s nothing wrong with playing occasional - more than occasional even - Christmas songs after Christmas Day.
And, there’s nothing wrong about saying “Merry Christmas.” Society has become so anemic and so politically correct I have to change what I say just to keep everyone happy! Christmas is (a) a religious celebration, (b) a social celebration, (c) a frame of mind (and, dare I say soul) and NOT exclusively a Christian frame of mind, and (d) a celebration of family. The phrase “Merry Christmas” isn’t always delivered from a religious perspective and it doesn’t need to be taken with one either. When I say it, how I mean it depends on whom I’m giving it to. And, in fitting in with the season, the receiver could just take it as a wish of general good will.
So, whether you’re a Christian or not, religious or not, don’t forget about Christmas 2013 just yet. ’Tis the season, as they say, and the season doesn’t end until January 12, 2014. When you greet someone, say “Merry Christmas” and mean it. Better still, keep “Merry Christmas” in your heart and mind even after January 12, 2014. Christmas might end religious on January 12, 2014 and socially it ended yesterday (Or, did it? There are ‘after Christmas’ sales going on everyone right now, after all.) but it doesn’t have to end inside you and how you greet and interact with your family, friends and coworkers.
To that end, I offer all of you a heartfelt thank you, for stopping by my blog, and a heart, mind and soul filled greeting - Merry Christmas!