If you know me, you know that I'm not much of a holiday or birthday kind of guy, though I semi-get up for Thanksgiving because of all the food. You can understand, then, why I'm not overly crazy about Christmas--a holiday based around a big birthday. Yes, I understand whose birthday it is. Let's forget for a moment that Christmas isn't even close to his actual birthday. I want to say that I don't hate Christmas. I'm not ca-razy about it either (see above). I'm pretty Christmas-neutral. I am neither Buddy the Elf nor Mr. Scrooge; I'm somewhere perfectly in the middle of the spectrum between those two. I would be the homeless guy on the street as Buddy or Scrooge passes by, smelling my fingernails and having no idea what day of the week or month it is.
I do like Christmas music. In small doses. I like seeing Christmas lights, but I miss the big, clunky multi-colored lights in an ever-increasing trend toward "classy" white-light Christmas decorations. I like the movie Elf. I like Christmas Blend. I like that people seem more cheery. I like ugly Christmas sweater parties. I like hanging out with close friends and family. I like getting stuff. I like giving away things. I like that my giving and getting monetarily cancel each other out but give me an excuse to spend money I wouldn't otherwise spend.
Oh, I'm sorry, did I not mention anything about a certain somebody?
I'm just being honest. And I wish more Christians would, too.
For all the griping Christians do about the slippery slope of society trying to remove Christ from Christmas, Christmas is mostly about a very similar list to the one above for most Christians. And Christmas has not been about Christ for a long time now. Think about some of your favorite, "classic" Christmas tunes. There's a good chunk of them that are about Santa, reindeer, sleigh bells, chestnuts, trees, shopping, family...and they weren't written last week, either. They go back a ways.
If each of us took an honest assessment of each moment after Thanksgiving--our thoughts, our time, our effort, our spending--I'm positive that beyond going to a special church service, maybe a visit to a homeless shelter or senior citizen home, some caroling or musical involvement, about 90% of the average Christian's thoughts, time, effort, and spending go toward the "secularized" portion of Christmas that they seem so adamant about preventing.
Does Christmas provide a great opportunity to reflect on a unique aspect of the Christian faith? Absolutely. Can it generate a call to focus on generosity and family? Sure. If you can honestly find me a handful people who truly make Christmas about Christ and Christ alone, though, then I ask, Why are we being offended for Christ with our mouths but showing we don't care through our actions? Christians are being more and more versed in the dangers of Christmas as a materially-focused, debt-inducing frenzy, yet they continue to participate just like everyone else.
I'm not going to sit here and profess with my lips that this day is all about Him when my actions say otherwise, although I think that being with family can be a great way to enjoy God's blessings (but that's no different than the atheist down the street who celebrates the holiday culturally rather than religiously). I would like to think that I'm trying to make my focus about Christ each and every day, instead of storing it up in some super-huge, kinda fake display of faith one time of the year. At the core, Christmas has become more about cultural traditions that we've become used to and really like, and we use Jesus as the reason to enjoy them.
The reason I don't care about the Christ in Christmas is because I don't see anyone that truly, really makes this season about the "real" reason. I also don't think that Jesus cares as much about his (fake) birthday as we try to make it seem like he does. I think that he cares more about what happens on the other 364 days of the year. Do we honor his life and death in July on a Tuesday at 10:34 in the morning before our boss is going to demand that project be on his desk and our coworkers are slacking off?
I would like to see someone who gripes about taking the Christ out of Christmas put their money where their mouth is and not spend money on a Christmas tree, or Christmas decorations, or any material presents, and go and give all the money they would have spent on the secularized, "un-Jesus" part of Christmas and give it to the poor and hungry. Then I'll listen to that person and care about this issue. Until then, we need to stop living in denial.