Dec 23, 2008

Tue: I would change Christmas

Oh yea, this sounds like a terrible idea, but hear me out. Christmas in the U.S. is without a doubt, the most popular holiday. And why shouldn’t it be? It combines some of the greatest elements from other holidays into a celebration that dominates the last 3 months of every year. You have the gift giving of Birthdays, the food of Thanksgiving, the significance of Easter, and at times the romance of Valentine’s Day. Even though Christmas has become an unparalled success as far as holidays go, I have a few things that I would like to see …….adjusted, to make the Christmas experience a little more potent and not such a mind blowing, scattered, extravaganza.

Ask 5 people what Christmas means to them and chances are you’ll get 6 different answers (there’s always that one person who can’t choose one answer and hedges the bet with a second). That tells me something, the idea of Christmas has somehow become unfocused. It’s easy to see why though; So many ideas have been shoe-horned into Christmas that people can no longer keep all the stories and traditions straight. So Christmas needs to cut some of the fat, starting with Santa and Co. I like Santa, and he’s welcome to set up his own holiday and you know what, he already has. It’s called St. Nicholas day and it's celebrated on December 6th. I’m all for that, celebrating the idea of charity and generosity with some gift giving early in December while keeping the Santa tradition alive. It would allow me to participate with fewer reservations in all the traditions that Santa is tied up in, as I wouldn’t have to worry about diverting my attention from the more important celebration of the birth of Christ.

Over the years some new holidays have also popped up in the same time frame as Christmas as alternatives. That’s fine with me, I can understand that not everyone has the same feelings about the birth of Christ and it would be unwise to make everyone act like they cared if they didn’t. The only problem I have with those alternative holidays is that they decided that one day was not good enough. To adequately celebrate Kwanzaa takes a full week, and Hanukkah takes 8 days! So I figure we bump Christmas up to a 9 day celebration, one day for every month that Mary carried the child. Every day could also focus on a different part of the lead up to His birth with some of the highlights being: the Angel telling Mary about the plan, Joseph marrying Mary, Mary visiting Elizabeth. There could also be a proper well thought out tradition to be practiced on each of these that corresponds with the story. It would take some time to settle on those and they need to be meaningful and appropriate, so I leave that to wiser folks then I.

Christmas also seems to have issues separating itself from Thanksgiving in some aspects. I’m not sure why exactly, but many Americans have decided that Thanksgiving is really just Christmas with no presents and more football. They eat the same foods, get together with the family, and really just create the same vibe. I think it’s really the food that needs to change. Thanksgiving has a valid claim on the Turkey that’s been established through years of Americana lore, so this new Christmas needs a traditional food also. I think that this should be solved on a family by family basis, with a universal avoidance of Turkey, and Ham to avoid infringing on the Pilgrims. My family, and I think most families with some portion of Hispanic heritage eat tamales and menudo at Christmas time. But like I said, discuss it with your family, decide what your flagship meal is and go with that, be it Lasagna, Sushi, Crepes, whatever. Just move away from the turkey, give Christmas a little more originality.

Finally if we’re being totally honest, the birth of Christ is a great thing to celebrate, but really should not eclipse the celebration of what he did on the cross. Good Friday, and Resurrection Sunday should really take precedent over Christmas. After all, the Bible only discusses the birth of Christ for 2 chapters but talks about his death and resurrection directly for at least 9, and indirectly for….well, the rest of the Bible really. I think we should put more effort into the celebration of those events, but the specifics of those changes will have to be saved for a future Tuesday.

Like I said earlier, I enjoy Christmas; I just think it’s become on some levels a mess of a holiday that tries to celebrate too many unrelated things. Those things are too important to be sharing the spotlight with each other, so it’s about time we gave them all a proper stage so they can impact us more effectively every year. Really isn’t that the point of holidays anyway? They are a time that is set aside to maximize the impact of an idea or event, not a time set aside cause we really enjoy setting it aside each year. Hopefully Christmas never becomes that, it’s too important to become that; you can’t let it become that.

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