Christmas is upon us once more, and as we wait in humble anticipation for Christ to come into our world, it's important that we recognize just how much so many among us have come to hate this season.
Not because it's about Christ, mind you, but (I propose) because it isn't any more.
A recent survey revealed that the majority of American adults, something around 70%, would forego giving gifts at Christmas if they could get their family and friends to agree to it. And why? Because gift-giving has become an essentially meaningless task, a chore, an expected but inconvenient expense in a world where we've been told that Christmas is about giving and getting.
Christmas has become quite a pragmatic holiday, at least for adults. Each year, we give each other a list of things that we need or want, things that we don't want to buy for ourselves, and then we rush around to a bunch of different stores to find the best deals on the things that our friends and family don't want to buy for themselves, and we call it a gift.
The children in our lives are no better off. Sometime around mid-November, we shove catalogs of the latest and greatest toys under their noses and ask them to tell us what they want. Spoiler alert: they want everything. I asked one of my nephews just yesterday what he wanted for Christmas, and he said, plainly, "There's not a lot in the toy catalog that I don't want."
And then there was some kind of debate about one of the things he said that he really wanted because his dad didn't even recognize this as an actual thing and started to ask him if he was making it up and if it was something he was going to invent, and my nephew said plainly no. The whole matter trickled off, but this morning, I searched the interwebs for it and...it's an actual thing.
But that's just it - we don't even know what we're giving each other any more. It's a what? Okay, whatever. We're giving things we've never heard of to persons we'd rather not give presents to anyway because, you know, who has the time or the money or the energy for Christmas?
Ho, ho, ho.
It wasn't supposed to be like this. You get that, right? This is not what Christmas was supposed to be about. It wasn't supposed to be about stress and resentment. It wasn't supposed to get to the point where we despise the whole season. It wasn't supposed to make us think of one another as burdens. That's not Christmas.
I don't know what it is, but it's not Christmas.
So let's talk about Christmas a little bit this week. Can we? Can we talk about what this is really supposed to be, what God intended this season to be about? Can we acknowledge that so many of us are burned out on Christmas because we've lost our sense of what Christmas even is? Can we cut through some of the cultural hullabaloo and get back to the heart of it all?
Can we recapture what it is about Christmas that sets our hearts right...before we all lose our minds?