Sorry for the Religious Holiday

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Merry He-who-should-not-be-named-mas!

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Or just Happy Holidays…

The internet today is a-buzz with a story about a woman in Chicago who killed three people in order to get the last Xbox One during Black Friday. It may be bogus – who knows – but the story says it happened at Wal-Mart which only adds to it’s credibility. That petrie dish of disease and frustration is dangerous even during the weekday.

But here’s the crazy part – we would all believe this story without batting an eye even if it wasn’t true! Now that says something.

The reality is, Christmas shopping is dangerous. Heck, Christmas alone is dangerous. Electrical fires, frostbite, scalding cocoa, too much egg nog at the Christmas party – sheesh, I should wear a helmet this month!

However, let us not forget in all the hustle and bustle that Christmas is a religious holiday. There are certainly disputes about how religious it is. Some say that Christmas is mostly pagan traditions and is hardly Christian at all. Others remind us that Jesus is the reason, no matter what traditions we celebrate with. Still others mesh traditions and Jesus by flying their Santa figurine over a Nativity; these people are just weird. No matter how you spin it, Christmas is still quite Christian even for the non-Christian, non-religious, non-God crowd.

Now, as an observer, I’ve observed that some observe religious observation during Christmas as offensive. Religious observations around this time does, at least, become a little annoying to people who find that stuff bothersome. But taking the “Christ” out of Christmas is kind of like taking the -anukah out of Chanuka – it wouldn’t make much sense.

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A child’s rendition of the Nativity – my favorite.

I understand that some of my readers don’t identify with the Christian faith. That’s okay with me; this isn’t an explicitly Christian blog.I want to reach individuals and families of all backgrounds and ideas. But as a Christian, in an attempt to make universal the lessons of my faith, I want to bring everyone a few of the best reasons why a religious Christmas is best. Perhaps you won’t be lighting candles at a church service on the 24th, but that doesn’t make the “Christ” in Christmas any less important for you too. Here’s a few reasons why:

  1. God was born next too poop. Glamorous, I know. Consider the story universally, though. A god is made flesh by a virgin girl. Virgin girl gives birth to a god himself… next to a big steaming pile of goat scat. Whether you believe the story actually happened or not, it’s still a good story. Perhaps the lesson here for us all is that we should consider where we come from; even God himself was born in a less-than-glamorous way. Think of the lady stabbing people over an Xbox – do we consider ourselves as being like her? Probably not, because I’m sure we’d all like to think we wouldn’t do such a thing. Reality is we all were born the same – naked, smelly, and bringing nothing with us. Perhaps we should treat each other the same, remembering our common roots, and with a little dignity.
  2. The baby dies in the end. Hindsight is 20/20. Everybody knows now that historically speaking, a man named Jesus was crucified on a cross. In the context of the Bible, Jesus was born so that he could die, thereby paying back the debt owed by man’s selfish ambition. But this ending wasn’t exactly a secret to anybody in those days; everybody knew of the prophesy – a savior would come and die. In the spirit of Christmas, a baby was born so that it would one day be sacrificed. Kind of grim. Also, kind of remarkable. Consider the bumbling, angry crowds at the big box stores. They don’t quite seem to be concerned with sacrifice. For a holiday about a baby that would pay the ultimate price doing what he believed in, we tend to forget our manners – and the need for the little, daily sacrifices we make for others.
  3. God had a family that gave him a headache too. One of the first things little baby Jesus did was meet family. He met lots of them. They weren’t all the most trendy people either. He had a great grandmother who was a whore. He had a cousin who would grow up eating bugs for a living. His parents would get on his case about what he wanted to do in life. Jesus had a pretty dysfunctional bunch just like the rest of us. Think about how frustrated you get in the midst of your family chaos at Christmas dinner. Perhaps one of the coolest lessons from the religious Christmas is that we’ve all been there – surrounded by crazy people, blood relative or otherwise, we have to share the day with. We all know what it’s like to experience that headache. But if the story of Jesus teaches all of us anything, perhaps we should be reminded that Jesus still went on doing what was right, even when his family was a mess. He still sacrificed and gave to them, even when they were a bit selfish themselves. When I think of my own patience with my family at Christmas time, I’m ashamed to admit that I can become a bit of a Grinch.

Maybe you’re not religious. That’s okay. But seeing as the Christmas holiday is religious in nature, maybe it’s not so bad to take a look at it as such. Humility, sacrifice, patience – those don’t seem like just religious values to me. They seem like good values all around. At the very least, they certainly come in handy at the checkout counter as you purchase that overpriced gizmo at 20% off.

Sorry for the religious holiday, but perhaps it won’t be as bad as you think.

– Merry Christmas!

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