And so we have come once again to the time of year dreaded by doctors, nurses, police, fire, and rescue squads alike: the “holidays.” Colder weather brings the risk of fire from the various ways people use to get warm. It also brings ice and snow with those attendant risks of accident and injury. But the biggest problem for the holidays isn’t ice or snow or fire. It’s the emotions.
Depression, suicide, and domestic violence increase during between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day. In the fervor of creating dozens of Hallmark moments, we have created a level of expectations impossible for anyone to fulfill. People expect holidays to bring healing to troubled relationships, they unconsciously expect some sort of magic to happen to pull everyone together.
The Boomer generation was raised with more material “stuff” than any previous generation, and we think we have to give more “stuff” to others because it’s Christmas. We were raised on fantasy and fairy tales and thanks to the wonderful legacy of Disney, we believe in magic. Our parents were raised in the realities of World War 2 and their parents in the shadow of the Great Depression. They were determined that their children wouldn’t know the hardships they had known. But hardships develop character, and strength. We grew up thinking the tooth fairy would bring us money for lost teeth and Santa Claus would bring us lots of presents for Christmas if we’d just “be good.”
So we live in this half-reality, as though there is this vague alternate universe we might find, where fairy tales come true and magic really works, and at this time each year there’s some sort of harmonic convergence that might make it possible for us to be part of that other world. We keep trying to make the holidays something they never were, and something they were never intended to be. And so, between the trying and the realization that it never works, we are left with this sense of disappointment, year after year. We reach for what doesn’t exist. That ongoing cycle of hope and disappointment, added to this year’s economic worries, is a formula for explosive emotional problems. Why do we set ourselves up like this?
Don’t bore me with the Christian value of the holidays, with the “keep Christ in Christmas” because He was never there in the first place! Christmas is a pagan holiday baptized by well-meaning early Church founders who thought it would be a good way to get the pagans into the church. And it probably did get them into the church. But did it make them believers? This amalgamation of the sacred and the profane is something God has never approved or sanctioned. It’s another lie we’ve told ourselves until we half believe it. IF we want to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ we should do so in September or October, which is more likely when He was born. December 25th has no connection whatsoever and never did.
Mind you, I have no problem with observing a time to remember the events surrounding His first advent. His coming to earth is the only bright spot of hope we have in this dark world. My concern is that we’ve muddied the waters for so long with all the fables and fairy tales that the world is afraid to believe in Him, the one Reality we can have hope for!