For years, I’ve refused to participate in the Christmas madness.
I gradually came to this decision. One evening, during my freshmen year of college, I overheard a young man proudly state, “I don’t celebrate Christmas. It’s a pagan holiday.”
After learning the definition of pagan, I wrote off this uninformed character as an idiot. Clearly, Christmas is a religious holiday. Therefore, it doesn’t qualify as pagan. Well, that’s what I initially thought.
My opinion of the defiant stranger began to shift during an uneventful workday in December of sophomore year.
As an administrative assistant, my job responsibilities included everything from making collection calls to getting my employer’s Jeep washed to wrapping Christmas gifts. The owner loved to lavish Christmas gifts–lots of them–on her family.
While wrapping what was probably the ninth present for her college aged son, I took a moment to evaluate whether the widely accepted ritual of Christmas gift giving made sense. See, my boss’s son had recently come out as an atheist. And from what I could tell, nothing changed about the way he celebrated the holiday.
For the record, I don’t judge the goodness of a person by their belief or non-belief in Jesus Christ or any other deity. But I gotta tell ya, I found the celebration of Christ’s birthday by a non-Christian perplexing. I never heard of such a thing.
So, I took a second look at the definition of pagan.
According to Merriam Webster a pagan is, “one who has little or no religion and who delights in sensual pleasures and material goods.”
Oooh. I finally got it. That’s Christmas, all right.
If atheists, agnostics, Hindus, and other non-Christians can celebrate Christmas alongside “believers”, then something is amiss about the way we commemorate the birth of Christ.
This year, several major retailers moved Black Friday up one day to Thursday, November 22nd. To Americans, that’s Thanksgiving. People who seemingly have it all now allow frivolous consumption to bleed into the one holiday designated for gratitude.
For many, Christmas represents a time to spend money on stuff they can’t afford to give to people who already own too much crap.
Don’t get me wrong. I don’t particularly care how you spend, save, invest, or squander your money. It’s yours, do with it as you please.
As for my money, I refuse to sacrifice it for those who enjoy so much abundance they habitually disregard the resources used to create and purchase their gifts. As an added bonus, I avoid hostile holiday shoppers and keep more of my hard earned cash.
Although I’m obviously disgusted by the commercialization of Christmas, a lot of good comes from retailers’ nonstop, in-your-face appeal to open your wallet between Thanksgiving and Christmas. (Who am I kidding? Try Halloween and Christmas).
Yes, corporations capitalize on this time of year for their own financial gain, but their advertisements during the holiday season remind us to give to the less fortunate. And fortunately, we don’t ask or care if our donations go to people with whom we share the same beliefs.
To Christians and non-Christians, how do you celebrate Christmas?