Christmas in Merry Olde America
I have been thinking a lot lately about the assaults against Christmas present here in America, although these same assaults are also present to one extent or another in most "Christian" countries.
What exactly is Christmas? It is the day the Christian world celebrates the Virgin Birth of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, the Second Person of the Holy Trinity; God Himself came down from heaven and became a man to save us men. So how do we Christians celebrate this holy and venerable day? By forgetting every reason we started celebrating this day in the first place.
Christmas has become a day of scandalous consumerism. The day we celebrate our Lord's birth has become a day for our capitalist societies to figuratively rape our economies--with, I might add, our complete and express permission. Giving gifts in honor of God's greatest gift to mankind is a noble and honorable act, but this practice has reached such extremes that for children--those usually best able to love and have faith in a God we cannot see--think of Christmas in terms entirely dependent upon their gift reception; Christmas is all about "gimme, gimme, gimme." In order to give, millions of people spend exorbitant amounts--often going in debt to do so--to obtain these gifts.
Then there is Santa Claus. Our present day picture of Santa Claus was invented in the 19th century by the American political cartoonist Thomas Nast. Some of our present legends of Santa are in fact loosely based upon the real St. Nicholas, Bishop and Confessor of the Church (died 343), but the real St. Nicholas never flew a sleigh led by flying reindeer through the sky delivering presents to good little boys and girls. What we have is the perversion of the memory of a venerable saint into a way for our consumerist society to make a buck.
My family thinks I'm a horrible person by planning on raising my future children (God willing) without a belief in Santa Claus. My theory is that firstly, Santa is a lie. Within Catholic moral theology, a lie, no matter for what the reason, is always objectively sinful. It's not a very good way to raise children under the pretense of a lie and expect them (once they learn of this lie, as all children do given time and age) to refrain from telling lies themselves. Secondly, as I stated earlier, children far too often think of Christmas simply within terms of getting presents. The belief in a supernatural/mythical figure who gives them presents on Christmas perpetuates this gift-centered view of Christmas. It is my opinion that in order for children to have a proper view of the seriousness and holiness of the day, they must be raised without the burdensome and objectively false belief in Santa.
Christmas is not a day to give gifts, it is not a day for families, it is not a day to experience a break from our work or studies. It is a day to commemorate the birth of our Lord. While Christmas experiences many assaults in our modern day, the holiness and spiritual reality of the day cannot be drowned out. Let us hold fast to the real meaning of Christmas: the day that the God who "...so loved the world, as to give his only begotten Son; that whosoever believeth in Him, may not perish, but may have life everlasting" sent His Son into the world. May the peace of the Christ Child be with you and yours this Christmastide.