At some point, people are taught about what Christmas is. Depending upon birth order, how the perception of it comes together may vary: something about a cuddle, a pinched cheek by a grandmother, the stench of shrubbery in cold weather, hot chocolate and then wrapping paper with something one likes.
Christmas carols and how for some reason we have to be old enough to differentiate the baby Jesus and our more mature selves…but maybe not that mature….Next thing you know they tell us about Santa and a red-nosed flying reindeer and at our age of learning and mental stage it’s all equally believable.
Some year, when old enough to be urged to create or buy presents for other members of the family…especially if we’ve ‘busted’ the parent/s sneaking around the house in the middle of the night and setting out packages….Disillusionment….How much have we been lied to? Just the man who comes through the chimney or also that Jesus who’s mother never had sex stuff?
Adolescence and Early Adulthood
Either we figure out that the Jesus thing is for real but the reindeer that can fly and the fat guy in red who brings presents is more fiction than fact….Or else we lose our religion….or else we find that more of our friends think we are weird for still believing in Santa.
Once in a while, someone will do actual research and will be able to put the pieces together: St. Niklaus brought Christianity to the Arctic where there really are reindeer and travelling by sleigh through the snow was realistic rather than crazy.
In reaction to the sorry state of affairs for English workers during the Industrial Age, the British nobility and top level executives had a spiritual transformation: instead of letting (mostly adult male) workers to have Christmas Day as their only day off for the entire year so that they would get drunk and demand liquor from their managers….How about: buy presents and hang out at home guys, with the wife and the child/ren? Hence, the amazing development of Christmas as a family oriented religious and cultural celebration.
Meanwhile, it is also true that here and there the odd friar, sadly a fat one, really did go around with a bag full of toys …and would give the odd child a toy as a charitable act from the best kinds of motives: love of God as love of others…This was turned into “give to the poor at least at Christmas” and the wealthy families developing “boxing day” when rich kids would pick from amongst what they had received to give to someone else. Obviously, in some cases, kids would only give what they wanted to trash otherwise…and sometimes there would be some sincere act of generosity with a profound spiritual motive and some children would give away stuff they really wanted to keep …to grow beyond selfishness.
In some cases for early adults and teens it stays being about….Jesus and family and also presents….Or the presents and parents and God are both tolerated as a means to receiving presents. That varies a great deal from one person to another. Let’s say that there is a difference between the people who keep or delve even more deeply into the real meaning of Christmas than those who are only reluctant to give up liquor-eggnog and receiving presents.
Tables turn and people find themselves working “back stage” to create and present a Christmas celebration for their children. Parents include this as just another part of whether or not they are any kind of sincere Christian or if they just don’t want to give up Christmas trees and eggnog….Or that they notice they would feel they were depriving their own children if they did not celebrate Christmas.
Again, what the holiday and does not mean comes up yet again. Is it still about God or presents? For many it changes and while hopefully still about God it is more about being able to spend some time in person with relatives that aren’t that available most of the year.
Of course, for many people this is also the triumph of unions and of having good jobs in as much as these are “paid days off” rather than “unpaid days off” and here or there, someone is working the holiday: hopefully for “time and a half” or “double the wage”. Adult children are more likely to opt out of family gatherings by working the holiday.
People confront their “family issues”. Happy families are thrilled to meet up. People dealing with major tensions have to contend with whether they are hoping to avoid in-laws or hoping to win them over at long last.
This was written by me. I’ll turn 51 years old next month, so there’s only so many stages of life that I’ve lived through so far. This is the case with everyone ….Like all of you, I’ve reviewed what this holiday means to me and why again this year. For me, personally, God is the central cause, but I do also love to meet up with loved ones and I still like to receive presents….but I enjoy giving as well,….and my expectations aren’t the same……
Hope yours is good! Meanwhile, I heard a rumor that loads of Jews living in the USA are hoping for Chinese restaurants to be open: Buddhists feeding Jews while the Christians are busy celebrating.