I’m posting this on Christmas Day so traditionally it should have something to do with Christmas and end with a big cheery “Merry Christmas” and “Happy New Year.” Or, at the minimum, I’m supposed to say “Happy Holidays to you all!” But I’m not a person who follows expectations. In fact my primary goal in this blog is to encourage each of you to NOT follow expectations and instead to march to the sound of different drummer and choose the path less followed.
So in fact what I am going to write about is why I do NOT celebrate Christmas. I’m not a Scrooge who hates Christmas; I just hate the harm it does. And I’m trying to choose a path of balance and moderation through the minefield of dangers it presents. Neither am I trying to discourage you from celebrating Christmas, but at the minimum I do hope to give you some food for thought about it and maybe even influence some of the actions you take during it. I certainly am not in a position to tell anyone what they should or should not do, but at the same time this blog exists so I can share about my life; and my attitude toward the Holidays reveals a lot about who I am and why I do the things I do.
At this point I’m no longer willing to blindly follow the crowd. The great majority of people who celebrate Christmas are not active Christians; they simply do it because that’s what they’ve always done and what everyone else is doing. If Christmas were a harmless tradition then I would say “So what? It makes people feel better so let’s do it!” But Christmas isn’t harmless! It’s horribly destructive in several ways. Let’s look at the terrible consequences of what Christmas has become.
1) It dilutes and destroys the message of Christianity.
You have to understand, I’m not a Christian, and I do not agree with or accept Christian theology. But neither am I anti-Christian, in fact I still find the most basic message of Christianity very admirable and worthy of following: 1) Devotion to God 2) Love of God and Man 3) Self-Sacrifice. And I’m sure at one time Christmas was truly all about that message, but what Christmas has become today is the exact opposite of that message: it’s all about putting on an extravagant display of selfishness, worldliness, greed and self-centeredness.
How can anybody miss the sickening irony of how we celebrate the birth and life of Christ? Think about his message: renunciation of the things of the world to follow a simple and minimal life of love and service to God and man. Now compare that with how we celebrate his birthday every year: an orgy of wasteful, excessive greed and worldliness greater than anything the world has ever seen!
I think the association of Christmas to Christianity is part of why nearly all mainline denominations report an overall decline in attendance in the last 30 years (their association with far right politics and the seeming greed and poor behavior of television evangelists and church leaders are probably the other main reasons). I think if churches came out and said Christmas has become something horrible and we should get back to its fundamental truths, they would be much better off.
2) It teaches our children Greed and Entitlement.
The one thing everybody says to justify Christmas is that it’s “For the children.” But what affect does modern Christmas have on children? In my opinion, a terrible one! It teaches them instant self-gratification and greed. Much worse, it creates a sense of Entitlement; that they deserve everything available and right now!! That sense of entitlement is destroying the fiber of our country.
John F. Kennedy has a famous quote: “Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.” Christmas teaches our children to not only ask for things for themselves, it teaches them that they deserve it, and they have every right to demand it! No country can survive without self-sacrifice by its people and has no future with a population that believes it is entitled to have every good thing being given to them.
Is it any surprise that nearly every vandweller struggles the most with getting rid of all the crap they own, and to keep from buying more? Our earliest and most treasured memories associate happiness with getting and owning things. Those early holidays lay a foundation of a lifetime of consumerism and looking for happiness in all the wrong places!
3) Christmas puts many people deeply into debt.
“…a recent poll reported by NBC News that claims a whopping 45 percent of all Americans would prefer to skip Christmas altogether, citing financial concerns as the primary reason. Not surprisingly, that same percentage anticipates that they won’t have the money to pay for Christmas without pulling out the plastic.” http://www.deseretnews.com/article/765616407/Christmas-credit-card-debt-a-tradition-we-could-do-without.html?pg=all
Even a minimal amount of Googling will show you a great many people can’t stand up to the pressure to buy the newest and latest for their family and so they put it on their credit cards. Many of them will be struggling to pay for it right up till the following Christmas next year when they just start over again. That means that year-after-year they are slowly piling up more debt that strangles them. Money worries and debt are one of the main causes of family fights and divorce so Christmas ends up harming or destroying the very thing we are out to promote.
4) Christmas physically destroys the Planet.
One of the things I remember most clearly about Christmas is the huge mess that is always left over after tearing open all those presents. There was always a giant pile of wrapping paper and boxes afterwards. Many times I thought how much the garbage men must hate Christmas because of all the extra work it creates for them! But’s it not just the landfills that suffer at Christmas. All that junk we buy has to be produced and transported around the globe and an amazing amount of it will be in the landfill in a very short time.
We are sacrificing the planet we depend on for worthless trinkets that’s we don’t really want and can’t afford. All that crap doesn’t really bring us satisfaction, in fact as soon as we get it we forget all about it and move on to the next thing we can’t live without. But by then the damage to the earth is done.
No matter how much we close our eyes and deny it, there will be a day of reckoning for our rape of the earth. But we don’t care; it will fall on our children or grandchildren and not on us.
5) Christmas is a source of deep division.
I think one of the main reasons religion is in a decline in America is its attitude of “I’m right and you’re wrong and you better do things my way!” There is nothing wrong with thinking you’re right and wanting others to know it, we all do it. But it’s the intolerance and seeming hatred that goes along with it that people find repulsive. There was a day when non-Christians would tolerate Christmas being shoved down their throat but those days are over—as they should be. I don’t want to be told every time I go to the grocery store that “unto me a savior is born.” I totally reject the fear and guilt that if I don’t accept Christ as my savior I am going to Hell. I think that is ridiculous and wrong. In my experience, anything based on fear and guilt makes for a miserable life in the long-run.
I think most people would agree with some of these ideas to some degree but say I’m carrying it too far. That’s a valid point. My goal isn’t to convince you, but to urge you to live deliberately, to give thought to what you’re doing and not just follow the herd.
Moderation and balance is generally a safe course of action so that is what I encourage you to seek. Each of us must decide what our own conscience tells us is the right balance for us. For me, I don’t give gifts or have any decorations but I do host a tribal meal at Christmas (if there are other people around). If someone says “Merry Christmas or Happy Holidays” to me, I say it back–and try to mean it. Sometimes people want to say a prayer before the meal, and I offer a moment of silence instead. I do that out of respect for those present who reject prayer and for those who believe in it. Neither are right or wrong, just different and both worthy of equal repsect.
So look into your heart and live your best possible life whatever path you choose.