Dreaming of a White Christmas

by Martha Hanna

The decorations have sprung up, carols are enduring their usual revivals, The Santa Clause 3 is looking… well, almost as promising as its prequels, and of course, the advertisements are hitting the country with full force. Naturally, along with all this comes the standard criticism of the increasingly consumer-driven nature of America’s favorite holiday. The predictability of the creeping “Christmas in November” is matched by its condemnation and criticism.

But is it all really so bad?

We so easily fall into the pattern of disapproval that we don’t hesitate to evaluate its validity. While we rejoice in the Christmas spirit as it hits movie theatres, stores, and suburban tree branches, we just as willingly shake our heads in disapproval of it all.

First off, the argument that the mass consumption associated with Christmas destroys its religious sanctity: the reality is, we live in a secular world. Christians should be embracing the opportunities Christmas’ marketability gives them to spread beliefs, rather than avoiding it. And though it is frightening that Santa Claus is more widely recognized than Jesus, religious serenity can still be effortlessly found throughout the season.

Christmas season or not, Americans love to consume. Window shopping, “one-day only sales,” and gift giving are popular, regardless of the cause. And for those who absolutely hate shopping, get on Amazon.com and just appreciate the financial boom that comes with the season! The last few months of each year is marked by an influx of new products and a drastic increase in sales at movies, restaurants, nurseries, and of course, in the retail sector.

Most importantly, the Christmas season has brilliant warmth, which brings out an unusual cheer in each of us. Whether it means enjoying time with family, quietly celebrating the birth of Christ, volunteering your time to help the poor, emptying your pockets on the perfect gift for a loved one, bouncing up and down on Santa’s lap, ripping open beautifully wrapped packages under a decorated tree, or mindlessly humming “Jingle Bell Rock” in sync with fellow Wal-Mart shoppers, we can all appreciate the joyful unity the Christmas season provides.

(Promotional photo for The Santa Clause 3: The Escape Clause, courtesy of Disney.)

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News Media Studier said...

You ask, "But is it all really so bad?" No, but it's not totally innocuous, either. The secularization of religious holidays has taken the focus off their meanings and put it on good old American greed. Yes, many people take steps during the holiday season to help those in need or to visit family, but the biggest spotlight rests on consemerism. A fellow blogger wrote about this subject recently.

Just because Christmas is secularized doesn't mean it represents everyone. And just because "everyone's doing it" doesn't make it right.

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