The season. Christmas. The holidays. Yuletide. Whatever it's called, it has rolled around again just as it does every year. And, too soon, it will be gone. What--if anything--will it leave behind? Dying trees, flickering lights, trash bags of wrapping paper, dissatisfaction with gifts received, relief, exhaustion...for many, yes, all the aforementioned are what they reap from the holiday season.
For those who have attacked it with the purpose of wiping it out, there is a modicum of success to be gloated over, I suppose. Not content to let the season pass by unnoticed because of their own beliefs, they have done everything possible to ruin it for those who celebrate it for what it is--the birth of Christ. The arguments they make--separation of church and state (which is not in the Constitution, actually), offensiveness to non-believers, ad naseum--are old and tired. The simple fact is, they want to impose their own agenda on everyone and will employ their bullying tactics wherever they can get away with it. Sometimes I feel angry--other times I just feel sorry for these people. And they are human beings and deserving of my compassion though they feel none for me.
My own approach to Christmas has changed over the years. I'm less focused on shopping, cooking, and decorating--and sometimes a little resentful if pressured into doing more than I want to do. I enjoy Christmas music playing throughout the house, the lights on my down-sized tree, the limited gift-buying I do for my grandchildren, and relaxing with old, well-loved movies such as "White Christmas" and "A Christmas Carol". I want to internalize the true meaning of the season and remember the coming of the Prince of Peace, the Savior of mankind.
The recent "flap" over replacing Santa Claus with a penguin in the name of racial diversity is ridiculously laughable. Santa Claus is the Spirit of Christmas giving. I've seen him portrayed as both black and white, and my feeling is, who cares? The historical St. Nicholas was indeed Caucasian, and one can't change history--but when we view him as a spirit, we can look at him however we wish, and it changes nothing. He is still representative of Christmas joy!
I was taught as a child in Sunday School that Jesus was less the fair-skinned image portrayed in our children's Bibles and in stained glass and more likely darker-complected due to living outdoors in the Middle East. I found that knowledge interesting and accepted it as more historically correct. I've even seen Him portrayed in art as black and oriental. If we believe the Genesis story that God created man in His own image (and I do), skin color is a moot point.
I wonder sometimes if God doesn't shake His head at the nit-picking. I personally am out of patience with it.
Finally, Christmas isn't a day in the month of December but rather a season of the heart. I heard a song once--a secular one to be sure but very true--that it's not about the things we do at Christmastime but "the Christmas things we do all year through".
Ebeneezer Scrooge learned to keep Christmas in his heart. So may we all.
I wish all of you a blessed season of joy, peace, and hope.