The Meaning of Christmas

by Brandon

A Miracle on 34th Street.
It’s a Wonderful Life.
A Christmas Carol.
A Christmas Story.
The Santa Clause.
Fred Claus.
The Polar Express.
Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.
Frosty the Snowman.
A Charlie Brown Christmas.

All these movies (and the many, many other Christmas movies out there) have two things in common. The first thing is obvious: they’re Christmas movies. The second thing, however, is far more significant…

The second thing is this: they all attempt to leave the audience with a good feeling. A warm feeling. A hopeful feeling.

A happy feeling.

I’m gonna just let you know up front that some of my more religious readers might get a touch offended by (or at the very least, disagree with) my views on Christmas, but I make no apologies. I’m making no claim of absolute knowledge here. It’s just how I see it.

Okay, where was I? Oh yeah… the potentially offending part…

I don’t think Christmas is a religious holiday. Not exclusively, anyway. Yes, yes, I realize the word “Christ” is in the name. And yes, I realize that many people in the world see it as a celebration of the birth of Jesus.

And that’s fantastic. There’s certainly nothing wrong with that. I’m just saying it’s not exclusively religious.

Christmas is bigger than any one religion.

Christmas isn’t religious.

It’s spiritual.

I know it’s very easy to become jaded about Christmas. Yeah, it’s commercialized. Yeah, it’s a topic of hot debate on political discussion shows.

“Happy Holidays? Why are you trying to take the Christ out of Christmas!”

“Merry Christmas? Gee, thanks for pushing your religion on me!”

“It’s a WAR! It’s a WAR ON CHRISTMAS!”

“Don’t go shopping! You’re just contributing to the commercialization of Christmas! It’s not about money, people!”

“I like turtles!”

It goes on and on, and these arguments detract from the meaning of Christmas. Maybe it’s time we took the advice of this Jesus fella’ and stopped fighting over these immeasurably trivial things. Whether someone says, “Happy Holidays!” or “Merry Christmas!” they’re wishing you well. How about instead of focusing on the second words of those phrases, we just focus on the first words and reply with a heartfelt “Thank you.”

And yeah, I agree that Christmas is extremely commercialized, but honestly… when hasn’t it been? Any person who says they remember a time when Christmas wasn’t commercialized is either 150 years old or is letting nostalgia alter their view of the past. A Christmas Story is one of the most beloved Christmas movies out there. It takes place in the 40′s. And it’s totally about a kid wanting a particular toy from a department store. The commercialization of Christmas is older than any of us. The only thing that has changed is the scale.

And really… you know why people are flocking to these stores? They’re doing it to buy gifts for other people. How often does that happen? How often do we literally see thousands of people lining up to spend money on other people? Overly commercialized or not, surely we can agree that’s a good thing, right?

Just look at Santa. If you think kids are fans of Santa Claus because of the presents, you’ve obviously never had a lengthy Santa-related conversation with a kid. Kids aren’t stupid. They know they’ll get presents with or without Mr. Claus. Kids are fascinated with Santa because of the magic he brings to their lives. I don’t know about you, but when I was a kid, the presents were the least awesome thing about Santa. The reindeer, the elves, the workshop, the delivery magic. When kids ask their parents about Santa, it’s almost never about presents. It’s usually, “But how does he get all over the world in time?” or “We don’t have a chimney. How does he get inside?’ Santa sparks their imaginations.

So yeah… we’ve got a man who devotes his entire life to giving. He spends the entire year working his old ass off, just so he can bring joy to other people. And this giving, caring magical man is a hero to millions. That’s pretty cool, right?

I’m sure that last bit has some Christian folks saying, “But it distracts from Jesus.”

Well, I disagree. I think Jesus would love to see millions of kids loving a character who represents everything he taught.

That’s why I say Christmas isn’t a religious holiday. It’s not exclusively about any one thing. It has Christian roots and pagan roots. It has religious aspects and secular aspects.

And that’s fan-freaking-tastic. Christmas is completely inclusive. We’re the ones who make it otherwise.

Christmas is a holiday that welcomes everybody. It’s a holiday that is absolutely saturated in love. And giving. And hugs. And smiles. It’s the one time a year when we’re expected to wish someone well. Who cares if it’s “Happy Holidays” or “Merry Christmas”?

I don’t think using the letter X to spell Christmas “takes the Christ out” of it. I do, however, think that arguing over the word “holiday” does.

So what is the meaning of Christmas?

For me, the meaning can be summed up in three words:

Love each other.

It’s that simple. And when we bicker over the details of Christmas, we’re pissing on the true meaning of the holiday.

So let me just say Happy Holidays to you all. That goes out to Christians, Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, Jedi, atheists, and everybody else.

I hope you all have a wonderful holiday season, no matter what holiday you observe. And if you don’t observe any holiday, well, I hope you have a wonderful time not observing them.

As for me, I have the most kick-ass family on the entire planet, so I’ll be pretty busy counting my blessings over the next few days.

Merry Christmas, folks. Go spread some love.

– Brandon

p.s. Bill Murray says this much better. Here ya’ go…

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