In two days Christians will celebrate Christmas. Tomorrow Jews will begin Chanukah. The holiday of Kwanza is not far off. There have been other holidays, mostly pagan that have been celebrated. The holiday season is in full swing. Just about everyone I know celebrates some holiday this tie of year. Whether that holiday is religious or secular.
The odd part is the evolution of Christmas in our country. It was not always celebrated as it is today. When the Puritans first landed on this continent, they did not celebrate Christmas. They actually passed laws that made it illegal to celebrate Christmas. That “tradition” lasted well into the 1700s in New England.
As the country grew, and different “Christian religions” began to grow the celebration began to become more traditional. We didn’t even see the Christmas Tree, especially in homes until the 1800s. That began with Prince Albert, Queen Victoria’s husband.
He was a German and brought the tradition of a decorated tree in the home to the castle. The news papers in England ate it up. It started to become a fad. If the Queen could decorate a tree for Christmas, everyone else should as well.
It didn’t take long before the “tradition” started on this continent as well. The Christmas “tradition” has evolved over the years. The Christmas Tree, Santa Claus, Kissing under the mistletoe, Decorations and many others were all adopted from different cultures.
Christmas became a holiday of “good cheer”. The religious values of “good will to men” became the calling card of the holiday. When I was a kid back in the 50s and early 60s, I kept hearing the complaint that Christmas was being too commercialized.
As I have written before, I grew up in a Catholic family. We always said Merry Christmas to each other. But, we never took offense to anyone who simply said “happy holidays”. People actually seemed happier at this time of year.
But, as everything else, Christmas became a political tool. The so-called fictitious “war on Christmas” became the battle cry. There were declarations that Santa Claus was a white man instead of the imaginary figure of happiness towards all children. The terrible political divisiveness began to creep into the holiday season.
That is extremely sad. This time of year is supposed to be a time of happiness. It is supposed to be a time when we are friendly to each other. We should be that way all of the time, but at least we pretended in the past during this holiday season.
The commercialization is still there. The day after Halloween the Christmas decorations begin to go up in the stores. The entire health of our economy seems to depend on the sales numbers during the Christmas season.
To me, it doesn’t really matter how you celebrate Christmas or what religion you belong to. The idea is that when you celebrate a holiday in which you share gifts with each other, and actually go out of your way to drop some spare change in the red kettles, how can there be any room for anything but love?
If there was ever a reason, or rather an excuse, to put aside our bitterness and hate, this is the season for it. This is the season we watch our kids open their presents and enjoy the smiles and laughter.
This is the season when we share with friends and family good cheer. This is the season we actually do smile more. This is the season when Christians celebrate the beginning of hope.
The Christmas holiday season means different things to different people. But whether or not you celebrate the religious holiday or the secular holiday, it really doesn’t matter. In essence they are both really kind of the same.
As you celebrate the holiday season, I hope you all have a wonderful time with family and friends. I hope the season finds that you are all warm, comfortable, and most of all happy.
But, please also remember, there will be millions of people who will not be home for Christmas. They include our military, police, fire, paramedics, nurses and other hospital workers, and many more “first responders” who will be working or deployed overseas. And, if not for their work and dedication, you might not be celebrating this holiday in peace.
So, Happy Holidays, Merry Christmas, Happy Chanukah, Happy Kwanza, Happy what every you celebrate during this holiday season. Wouldn’t it be nice if the Christmas Cheer lasted throughout the year? Here is to hoping.