Christmas, it seems, is a little less merry than it used to be. Oh, not necessarily in absolute terms, but anecdotal evidence shows we’re sharing fewer greetings of “Merry Christmas” or even the more neutral “Happy Holidays.” Perhaps even fewer incidences of meeting “smile after smile.”
Maybe this can be blamed on political correctness: People are afraid to offend, so they say nothing. If that’s the case, we’re certainly taking the shine off a holiday like no other.
There’s the crux: Christmas is not just another day off from work or school. No other holiday even comes close in terms of the goodwill and anticipation engendered by what occurs each 25th of December. It transcends even religion, as witnessed by how we celebrate Easter, a more significant holiday on the Christian calendar, yet it doesn’t generate the same reaction.
Even if you’re not religiously inclined or of another faith, there’s still something delightful about Christmas – the one time of year where we live up to our potential as kind, considerate human beings. We like ourselves better for it, but seem unable to carry it through more than a few weeks.
Yes, those of the Christian faith celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ. And in recent years that has sparked a certain amount of controversy, as the unimaginative deem the holiday incompatible with a multicultural society. That is, of course, piffle supported by a few blowhards, including some of the majority culture who feel they must act as apologists for our traditions. None of these people realize the magic of the season extends far beyond the religious aspects.
Those who decry the commercialism of Christmas would say it’s just greed that makes us enjoy the season, but that’s too simplistic. Christmas shows us what we could be, if only we’d embrace our potential.
If asked to describe what they love about Christmas, even the most devout Christians would go beyond the religious to tell of the glow and warmth that comes with being near to family and friends at Christmastime, a feeling unrepeated at other gatherings throughout the year. There’s an indefinable charge in the air, as if something is compelling us to be more attuned to the world around us. We’re driven to be a little nicer (hopefully more than a residual desire to stay off of Santa’s naughty list) and to be a little more generous to others – at least in situations outside of the mall, where it can still be every man or woman for him/herself.
While some will argue Christmas is simply for children, they may be missing the point that it’s a chance for all of us to be kids again, to try to recapture some of the innocence and sense of wonder.
If the Christmas spirit is on the wane today, it’s because we let business, stress and political correctness intrude on the holiday – much as they do on our lives as we progress from childhood into adulthood.
The goal, then, is to recapture some of that zest, that anticipation and wonder that came with the Christmases of youth. At the same time, there is the need for an adult appreciation of what a timeout from the “real world” can mean for the soul.
That’s the real magic of Christmas.