Because life is a series of edits

Ho, Ho, Hum

In Holidays on December 22, 2007 at 10:59 am

I’m not Scrooge incarnate, but let’s just say I’ve never been accused of being a jolly old elf around Christmas time. It’s not that I’m ungrateful for the Reason for the Season; it’s just that when I look at all that goes on in the name of Christmas, it sure seems everyone else is. (I’m more of a Thanksgiving/Good Friday guy, but that’s irrelevant to this post.)

I’ve not begun my Chrismas shopping because I don’t do any. I don’t look forward to gift exchanges (White Elephant or real), because they bring out the worst in my kids and, as a result, the worst in me. I don’t proclaim the global “pretend day of peace” we turn Christmas into, especially when there are far too many people who experience no peace due to government corruption, economic disruption, and family dysfunction – gifts that, unfortunately, keep on giving the whole year ’round.

My perspective on the American version of Christmas is summed up in the words of Clark W. Griswold at the end of their Christmas misery in National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation: “We’re going to have the happ-, happ-, happiest Christmas since Bing Crosby danced with Danny ******* Kaye.” Translation: “It’s Christmas, we’ve made ourselves tired and miserable, and we’re going to celebrate, darn it.”

I hate to break it to you, dear readers, but I’m too much of an idealistic realist (or pessimist, if you’re the “eternal optimist” type) to drink the holiday Kool-Aid and hustle and bustle all over creation, “properly” observing (for that’s often only what we do – ask yourself what you’re actually celebrating) the birth of Jesus.

Instead, I tend to be quiet, try to keep my mouth shut (it’s hard), and endure all the hoopla until I can get a moment alone to confess my intense anger at how we’ve commercialized the true meaning of Christmas as just another reason I’m in need of it (the true meaning of Christmas, that is).

Maybe I am Scrooge, but at least I have a reason to need the holiday. This Christmas, in the midst of it all, I encourage you to ask yourself if you have one as well.

Merry Christmas (darn it).

(Note: In an effort to be a full-service blog, for those not feeling all warm and fuzzy after reading my post, read Garrison Keillor’s post on why he needs Christmas in Salon.)

  1. ahhh… a kindred spirit. see my post for details.

  2. as far as the shopping/gift-giving, you sound a lot like my husband. i guess that is why God gave you a wife and 4 daughters:)

    i don’t think it is necessary for you to keep your mouth shut about something so important…especially if it causes you a lot of anger and frustration. we all need to be prodded out of lethargy in different areas and we need people like you to speak up…kindly.

    you are off to a good start with the modeling you are doing as a family. over the years, it has been the examples of others that have powerfully influenced me in areas such as this. m

  3. Great link, Travis. I think I had read the print version but hadn’t seen the video report – you have to cut the ironic cynicism with a knife.

    Hadn’t thought about the wife and four daughters theory, Martha, but I suppose it makes sense. Thanks for the freedom to speak up; doing so “kindly” is the challenge (rest assured, I always have opinions).

  4. sad, craig, very sad, don’t by into the cynicism of your generation, as you said your scoogeness does reveal your need for a savior, and guess what he came, he’s here and that’s reason for real joy and we can find it even in the worst of this season, at least that’s what the optimist in me has to say, and usually he wins, even sitting here with a bum knee attached to tow machines, one that ices it and another that moves it for me, but at least it’s all by the glow of the lights from the christmas tree

  5. Um, Rob, we’re the same age…don’t you mean “our” generation?

    You doing PT by Christmas tree light is a metaphor just begging to be used (but I won’t because, hey, it’s Christmas, right?). Have a merry one.

  6. Is it just the over-the-top gift-giving you abhor, or the whole holiday season with lights and wreaths and unexpected baked goods from neighbors? Obviously your love language isn’t gifts, but can you appreciate those who do feel loved by an exchange of thoughtful material goods? I took great joy in finding my nephews the perfect gift — a digital camera that straps onto their helmets so they can film their skating stunts. (And I’m sure my sister will send me the ER bill.) I agree with the over-commercialization of it all, but when you find that perfect gift for someone, there is great joy in giving it.

  7. Hey, Scrooge McDuck,

    Maybe this is a holiday you can get behind.

  8. Sorry, Chels, I don’t speak Gifts. Sounds like you do, though, and I’m glad for your joy. I just don’t get it. Love Festivus, Nick. Consider this post part of my “airing of grievances” for the season.

  9. Sounds to me like someone didn’t get his “Red Rider BB Gun with the compass in the stock.” ;-)

  10. just b/c craig isn’t thrilled by all the frantic giving of gifts (and i’m not talking about “thoughtful gift-giving”) doesn’t mean he is a grinch. in many ways, i think his attitude is much more biblical. the noisiness, frenetic activity, giving of gifts b/c they are expected, etc. really don’t have anything to do with biblical concepts related to christmas. it is a challenge to us as christians to clear away the clutter of our christmas traditions and realize which ones are truly christian and which are cultural. as our “world” becomes more and more secular, it is the traditions we keep that will show the world how “christian” we really are.

    this was illustrated this past week to me by our daughter’s family (in seattle)…definitely NOT part of the Bible belt:) at her 4 yr. old’s school, the parents were allowed to come in and tell (with their child) about their famiy traditions for this time of year. fortunately, they had some that were related to the christmas story (not every christian i know does). they read it before opening presents, but last year their daughter memorized luke 2 so this year she said it for her class (with a little prodding) and they took a nativity scene in. the teacher was impressed with the long memory piece and asked, “now where is that from?” for many, the true christmas story was brand new. it challenged me anew re what our family traditions are and i think you have touched on that craig.

    i don’t think you are a scrooge at all. i do think that we all get so tired and burned out at this time of year that the last thing we want to do is THINK. the fact that EMANUEL chose to live among us is so profound. and to think it started way back with the tabernacle when he chose to live among people He knew were stiff-necked and could kill, is even more profound…and comforting! of course, i love your writing, but don’t hesitate to speak up craig. we need to listen and stop short. m

  11. sorry i was so preachy in my previous post

  12. Worse? How could it possibly get any worse? Take a look around you! We’re at the threshold of hell!

  13. For the record, we had a good Christmas day – our first alone and on our own as a family since the year Megan and I got married. The girls woke up at a semi-decent time (7:00) and ransacked their stockings before we all had breakfast together (Megan made sausage and gravy, and it was good).

    After that, the girls opened their presents and have played with them most of the day, while Megan and I have loved being able to catch up on a bunch of detail work that had gotten pushed off all fall. We did some organizing, some planning, and had a laid back day, stopping only to pray and eat at each meal together, as well as get some good cuddle time in with each of the girls at various times, which was nice.

    We had a good time with my side of the family Saturday night through Monday at the farm in Illinois, and tomorrow we’re headed to Megan’s sister’s near Kansas City to be with her side of the family until Friday. Getting to spend Christmas here at home in the middle of the trips, however, has been a much-needed balm for this old Scrooge. I’m even writing thank you notes.

    (Of course, I still don’t take anything back that I posted above, but thanks to all who cared enough to comment in the name of challenge, empathy, or defense. I felt loved in a warm, non-commercial Christmas kind of way.)

  14. kent, i like the threshold of hell comment, you must be premil

  15. amen and thank you, craig. doing things because we do them is overrated.

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