This comes up every year.
For one thing, how do I, as a practicing Catholic, greet people during the holiday season? I get the feeling that “Happy Holidays” sells Christmas short. So this year, I’ve been mainly wishing people a Merry Christmas, with the understanding that although they may not be celebrating the religious aspect of the holiday, odds are they’re celebrating the secular side. (Unless they are Jewish, which would mean they wouldn’t appreciate it at all.) For the most part the ‘experiment’ has gone well, but I think a few people have given pause or not wished me a Merry Christmas back. And that’s okay with me.
— I have to wonder if they have the same problems in other parts of the world. Like in the United Kingdom, specifically in England, I know they wish people a “Happy Christmas” —
Every year, I become increasingly aware of the dichotomy of Christmas. There’s the religious side as Christians everywhere are celebrating the birthday of their Savior’s birth to varying degrees of fervency. I notice that my church always feels the most packed during Christmas and Easter Masses, because of all the ‘Christmas and Easter’ Catholics come out of the woodwork.
Then there’s the secular side. Retailers want us to go into a shopping frenzy to buy gifts for EVERYONE we know. I usually am pretty broke come Christmas and most years I haven’t gotten my family anything. Sometimes I do though. This year and last year I’ve gotten my Parents and my brother clothing that they need, long sleeve shirts mostly. And I remember one year I got my mother and grandmother kitchen accessories
And I know Jesus wasn’t born on or around Decemb.er 25th. It doesn’t make sense for shepherds to be out in the fields tending to their flocks overnight in winter. I know that there was already several Pagan holidays and traditions revolving around the Winter Solstice and the Church moved the birthday to fit into those celebrations. The Yule Log, The Christmas Tree, all came from the Pagan side.
When A Charlie Brown Christmas came out during the 60s, there was already a sharp increase in commercialism and the secularization of the Holiday. In fact many of Charlie Brown’s friends are obssesded with gifts and giving Santa a long list. Charlie Brown himself feels depressed because he can’t find the true meaning of Christmas. Linus says he knows and then quotes The Gospel of Luke:
“And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them, ‘Fear not: for behold, I bring unto you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the City of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.’ And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host, praising God, and saying, ‘Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.'”
People may not believe in the religious side of Christmas, but most still believe in the common good of men (and women) and peace on earth. That is perhaps, the real meaning of Christmas.
And so, I wish you a MERRY CHRISTMAS, but also I hope you find comfort and joy and good tidings this weekend with your family and others you enjoy spending time with.