Perhaps today’s revelers are more politically correct about their holiday celebrations, but so many of the songs of the holiday season really do focus on Christmas and the birth of Jesus. While we’re out shopping, attending parties, and drinking way too much eggnog (among other things), the holiday songs echo from the store, lounge and elevator speakers without anyone giving it much thought. Most adults today in Western cultures have been singing these songs since childhood. It’s so prevalent and ingrained that many don’t really think about what they’re singing anymore – it’s just a tradition now.
'True meaning' of Christmas?
So how crazy would it be if the birthday boy showed up today?
Those in the Christian faith and spin-off religions have been foretelling His return since the foundation of Christianity. I wonder if He’d be on board with the entire hubbub, or would He be scratching His head in amazement at it all?
Here in America, the “holiday season” is big business for retailers. They make 40% of their annual revenue during the holiday season from Black Friday to the end of January. That’s a lot of commerce and commercialism hanging around the holidays like a particularly flashy wreath. Of course, according to the Bible, Jesus started his first birthday with gifts from Kings – so maybe he wouldn’t be surprised by the lavish gifts that seem to embody the Western cultures’ holiday celebration.
Even if He was a little put off by the crassness of the commercial engine that drives the holidays, I think he’d be warmed by the family togetherness that comes with most celebrations.
On the good side of things, family members who may not see each other at all throughout the rest of the year make time and travel plans to meet and celebrate the holiday together, giving gifts, exchanging stories and basking in the warm glow of family togetherness. Well, perhaps not all family get-togethers end that warmly, but most try to.
Now, maybe Jesus wouldn’t be surprised by it all, but can you imagine our reaction to Him showing up? Christmas carols are sung by all manner of people, and not all of them are Christian. Even some of the ones who are may not be incredibly devout or take it too seriously. “Away in a Manger” and “Oh Little Town of Bethlehem” were standard Christmas chorus fare back in the day even if today’s elementary school choirs have been sanitized and politically corrected.
Just picture a group of carolers wandering along a wintry night, stopping by each house and singing about His birth, drinking hot cocoa, bundled up against the cold night air; they would fall down in surprise when He came walking up and asked if His birthday celebration was going well! Or floated up…or glided…or whatever it is He might do. I suppose He could just appear and give David Copperfield a run for his money.
In all seriousness, the Christmas holiday is about His birth, not His return. This time of year is also when many other religions and ethnic groups celebrate their traditions as well. It’s a time of reverence and reflection. It’s a time when we miss our loved ones far from home, whether they’ve moved far away or are serving our country on duty in a foreign land. Charity compels many of us and we generously share the gifts of our good fortune with those less fortunate, even if they’re no relation whatsoever and just a person in need.
So whether it’s Christmas, Kwanzaa, Hanukkah or the Winter Solstice, I’m glad this merry season is upon us. I look forward to the time spent with family and friends in celebration of whatever it is we might be celebrating.