Last year at about this time, I wrote a column about the status of Christmas these days, in which I ranted about the commercialism of the holiday, excessive spending, etc., etc.
Before I do a repeat in this space, let me just say up front: I am not a "Scrooge." Christmas is one of my favorite holidays. No, I take that back. Like many of you, it is my FAVORITE holiday.
But first a word about another holiday, the one we just celebrated on the 27th of November. This holiday is called "Thanksgiving" , NOT "Turkey Day." Though eating turkey and watching (ugh) the Detroit Lions play football are long established traditions on Thanksgiving Day, the holiday was established as an official day to GIVE THANKS (hence the name). No matter what your current situation may be, it really shouldn't be too hard for most of us to think of several of many people, places and things for which we can give "thanks." And not just on the 4th Thursday in November. We - especially Americans - should give thanks every day.
That's Rant Number One. Now on to the major purpose of this particular column. As usual, I have waited until halfway through he column to get to my point. Isn't it comforting to know that some things never change? But I digress (another frequent occurrence).
The origins of the Christmas holiday, like Thanksgiving, I fear, seem to have been lost to many people. Certainly not all, mind you, but many. Let me refresh your memory. More than 2000 years ago, in a stable in the town of Bethlehem (that's in "The Middle East" for you kids), a baby named Jesus was born, and with him was born an entire religion, called Christianity. Christianity separated into several different religions over the next few centuries, but the worship of Christ (Jesus) was always at the center of each. And so, Christianity established a religious holiday called Christmas (Christ's birth) to celebrate the birth of the Christ child. Not "Xmas" - that, after all, takes the "Christ out of Christmas," and that, trite as it may sound, is "the reason for the season."
Christmas is my favorite holiday because of that first Christmas, and the effect that the events in that stable have had on my life (and the lives of millions of other Christians) - one of the things I give thanks for on Thanksgiving (and other days).
My other Christmas season favorites include true Christmas (i.e., Christ-centered) music, and family gatherings. Though the three wise men did indeed bring gifts to the baby Jesus on that first Christmas, I personally don't believe that giving or receiving expensive presents you can't afford is really what Christmas is all about. One good thing about this belief is that during economic hard times, Christmas remains the same for me because neither "the reason for the season" nor the music have changed.
Speaking of music, one thing about Christmas that has always amused me is the issuing of "Christmas albums" by every celebrity under the sun. I mean, that's all well and good, but among those artists singing of the glorious birth of Christ are many performers who are not believers in Christ. I don't mean to sound exclusive about "our" holiday, but if you're gonna sing it, believe it.
In closing, let me say that one of my other favorite things about Christmas are the "classic" Christmas television shows and movies, which seem to be joined by a couple of dozen new programs each year. I only have two that I try to catch every year, though - "It's A Wonderful Life" and "Christmas Story."
So, with George and Mary Bailey and Ralphie and his family, I wish all of you a Merry Christmas, Joyeux Noel and Feliz Navidad.