By Craig Funston
Believe it or not, I may be one of the greatest fans of Christmas in the country. Well, at least the county. On my street? My home? There is very little about Christmas that I dislike, apart from the crass materialism and nauseating sense of entitlement that is choking the life out of it.
Christmas delight for me can be summed in the following words: creed, need, read, and feed—and not necessarily in that order.
You name it, I like it: presents, trees, lights, board games, family, peace, snow, naps, good will, and so on. While I may not start as early as Wal-Mart (“Good afternoon, shoppers, and welcome to the start of the Christmas season. It is a balmy 25+ outside on this late August Monday. Snow suits are on aisle 15, beside the bathing suits”), I do get into the mood at about this time of year.
I have my own reasons for relishing the Christmas season, as I’m sure you have yours. They may not even be the same ones, but hey, it’s Christmas, so we’re all in a jolly mood, aren’t we? Christian people often speak of the “reason for the season,” so you may want to ask them what that means.
Anyways, your reasons for enjoying this season may fall into one or more of the following categories:
Financial I am a wannabe businessman, what with my responsibilities in education and teaching projects, plus the farm life, so I do think businessly (not a real word, Maurice). However, as I don’t have a retail outlet or online sales, whereby I sell actual products, the Christmas season doesn’t affect me as it would someone, say, in a brick and mortar building.
I understand that something like 20% of the year’s revenue comes in around the Christmas season, so it’s crucial to have a good sales around this time of year. More power to them. Many happy returns, you might say, just not the ones on Boxing Day
Their answer to “Why Christmas?” is likely the revenue it brings. Fair enough.
Traditional Then there are those traditional saps, like me, who love kittens, feel-good stories, and musicals—plus all the traditions that Christmas brings. I have alluded to them about three paragraphs north. Believe it not, I think I like the good will that is in the air the best: It gives people a chance to be nice for a while, and really mean it.
Your family has its traditions, we have ours. Traditions build memories, bring people closer, and smooth over the rough edges in many relationships. I don’t think anyone can say that some are “right” traditions, while others are “wrong.” “Good” and “better” would be a more accurate way to express it.
Some traditions may fly better than others; some may be suitable for a family with young children, others may work better for families with older kids. Try having a family, as we did, with younger and older at the same time. We had to get both creative and simple and do what was best for all.
So another answer to “Why Christmas?” is simply the memories it brings.
Historical This one seems harder to tackle, but only because history seems so open to misinterpretation these days. And more so if it’s so-called religious history. Ironically, the reason for Christmas on a historical basis may be its strongest argument.
When I investigate the Good Book, as well as other historical sources, I find secular people such as Herod, Caesar Augustus, and Quirinius—king, emperor, and governor, respectively—mentioned.. I read of real places such as Syria, Galilee, and Bethlehem—country, province, and city, respectively–mentioned. I see events such as a mass of moving magi (astrologer-kings from present-day Iraq), of an empire-wide census, and of a spectacular solar event (the moving star).
Not only history affirms the birth, so does geography and astronomy. The secular and biblical timeline mesh very nicely.
These people, places, and passages can be verified by “outside” secular historians. There is no religious element to them. It’s a fact a “Jesus” (aka “Immanuel”) was born in time over 2,000 years ago. What we do with the facts, of course, is up to the seeking historian in all of us.
So another answer to “Why Christmas?” is simply the confidence it brings.
Biblical Finally, for those of us who actually pick up the Good Book and read it for what it purports to be—an essential account of God speaking to man—we are convinced that there was a special birth, there were shepherds in the fields by night, with the result that humanity has never been the same since.
There’s no denying Christmas (and all the good that comes out of it). To deny it would be short-sighted and irrational. Excesses and greediness aside, make a point to celebrate the birthday of a King.
I’m sure I read that in a history book somewhere.