Yesterday I was walking past one of our conference rooms and I saw that a department holiday party was going on inside. I love to peek in when I see one of these happening…everyone is relaxed in their business casual clothing, someone is wearing a Santa hat, wrapping paper from the Secret Santa exchange is thrown about. From inside the room I heard about four seconds of conversation. “There is no Christ in Christmas anymore,” one person said. “It is such a commercial holiday,” another person said. And another: “The whole holiday just feels shallow.”
It’s not like these are new sentiments. Lord knows I’ve heard other people make these claims before. But for some reason it bothered me to hear these people say these things.
I wanted to walk in there and wax poetic about my feelings on Christmas. Wordy proclamations about religion are – it turns out – frowned upon at work but they are the very heartsblood of the blogosphere, which brings us here.
To me, Christmas exists so much in your heart. It’s a state of mind, it’s something that you create within you. If you choose to make this holiday about consumerism and knick knacks and seasonal annoyances, then of course the season will feel hollow to you. You say there is no Christ in Christmas? That only tells me that there is no Christ in Christmas to you. If Christ is important to you, you will make Him the peg that the spokes of this season revolve around. No amount of pressure to buy Things this season will change what’s in your heart or the hearts of those closest to you. No amount of made-for-TV movies are going to convince your children that The Puppy Who Saved Christmas is really what this holiday is about. They cannot supplant the ideas that you foster in your heart and your family, the things you believe are important. Those things come from you.
This applies even if you aren't devoutly religious (a category which I fall into). Those feelings of warmth and appreciation that surround the holiday, the magic of Santa and the feeling of goodwill toward men exists only because we make the choice for them to exist.
Is this one of those things I'll understand in a few years, once June is old enough to whine about wanting an iPad because all of her friends have iPads? Is that when the consumerism really sinks in? Or are people saying that Christmas is a shallow holiday because they see others treating it that way?
One of the things I love so much about being a parent is that I can shape the way my children view the world, Christmastime included. I'm sure that, as June and our other children grow older, we'll face the same pressures to fit in, to have it all, to buy buy buy. But I feel that it is in our power to control the feeling behind the holiday. To have traditions and conversations and quality time and community service.
And that is the only thing I can control - what happens in my little family. I can't make the girl down the hall more reverent. I can't force anyone to really listen to the lyrics of Christmas songs. But I can control if I feel Christ in Christmas and if my family feels Christ in Christmas.