There is a common thread that runs through the holiday season like a draw string on a purse bringing us all together for a common good. Belief in Christ or worshiping Him have never been a prerequisites for participating in Christmas. There is no 10 question interview that pre-qualifies you to light a tree, send Christmas cards or buy presents. If you don’t believe in Christ or have friends who don’t believe you can even buy Christmas cards that say “Happy Holidays” and avoid the whole religious aspect to it. No one will ask you if you believe that Jesus was the son of God. Do you believe in God? Do you believe Jesus healed the sick and performed all manner of miracles? Do you believe he died for your sins? When was the last time you entered a church to worship him?
There are pockets of people who get upset at the nonbelievers who piggy back on the holiday celebration. Heaven forbid an atheist donate time or money to feed the hungry or provide warm clothing and gifts to total strangers at Christmas time. And what could the atheist possibly be thinking helping the economy by giving gifts during a holiday they don’t believe in? Fortunately believing in Christ has never been a prerequisite for “Peace on earth, good will toward men”.
For the believing crowd there are aspects to the holiday that simply get ignored. The fact that we are celebrating the birth of Christ at the wrong time of year doesn’t matter. So what if he is the Son of God, a matter which if true demands our respect and reverence, but we’ll decide when to celebrate his birthday. The fact that Christ wrote nothing down as far as giving us firsthand accounts of what actually happened during his life we look away from, it’s easier to believe it’s all in God’s hands than to question the accuracy of stories recorded decades after the subject has died. It can be easy to ignore the fact that while we huddle around a fire with family looking at a tree full of gifts underneath it, others are going without, hating the day for reminding them of what they don’t have. I guess you could echo the sentiment that “Some things that are true are not very useful” when it comes to Christmas.
The fact is this is one flawed holiday if our focus is to be on birth of the son of God. And yet I think that is one of the most endearing aspects of it. We are all flawed, Christian, atheist, wiccan, deist, doesn’t matter, we all come to the holiday table with issues, and whether he was the Son of God or not, no one acknowledged mans ability to perpetually miss the mark more than Jesus Christ.
Pepper spraying your “neighbor” in order to get the gift you want from Wal-Mart is a great example of one overzealous birthday party-goer not only missing the mark but not even having her eye on the mark. Where else is the spirit of forgiveness and acceptance needed more than during the holidays?
For whatever reason young adults decide that Christmas is a great time to drop a bombshell over dinner. Mom and dad, I’m gay. Mom and dad, I flunked out of school. Yes I know it was only a community college but look at the money I saved you flunking out of there rather than Harvard. Mom, dad, I won’t be going on a mission for the church I have been having sex with my girlfriend for the past year and I love her. And she is pregnant.
And it’s not just the youth; parents have dropped a few of their own bombshells over the years. Kids your mother and I have decided to divorce. Kids, your father has moved out and he will tell you why. Kids, we have lost everything and need to move in with one of you. All of this sounds like a horrible Christmas but what better way to celebrate the birth of Christ; flawed, and in need of Christ like qualities such as acceptance and forgiveness and above all the charitable act of offering someone unconditional love.
The holiday is all about whatever we decide as individuals it’s about. The spirit of selflessness, charitable giving, introspection, forgiveness, compassion… may all be Christ like qualities but they don’t require a belief in Christ. And if the season brings out those qualities in believers as well as nonbelievers than we all win. Even the woman with the pepper spray would probably find a place at the table after being asked to leave her weapons at the door. The question is, who would Christ exclude from this party? I believe there are chairs for the believers the non believers and for all of those who really don’t give the significance of the event much thought at all they just showed up because they heard there was a party.