Thursday, December 24, 2009


Now to the Lord sing praises,
All you within this place.
And with true love and brotherhood
Each other now embrace;
This holy tide of Christmas
All others doth deface...

God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlmen

Every Christmas I find myself torn, torn between what Christmas means to me and what I think Christmas should mean to me. But when you think of Christmas and the twinkling lights, the non-recyclable gift wrap, the hordes of bargain-hunting last minute shoppers, and the nativity scenes in malls, what can we really conclude it is supposed to mean? The Catholic Church markets Christmas as a time to celebrate the birth of Jesus.... and yet Hallmark tells me it's a time to drink and share gifts with my friends and loved ones. While I was growing up, my family followed the traditions of a Christmas tree and Christmas morning gifts without ever explaining what any of it meant. So I grew up like any other church-going child: completely confused as to what the real meaning of Christmas should be.

I saw a movie a few years ago called "God Grew Tired of Us". The movie itself deserves its own blog but for the purpose of this entry, I'll focus on the part of the movie where the five refugee men from Sudan celebrate their first Christmas in America. They were baffled. What is this tree for? they asked. And what do all the lights mean and why are there so many odd traditions to celebrate the birth of Christ? In Sudan, they celebrated by being with their family and communities, rejoicing in their love for each other and for Christ--a video clip of these small communities with nothing but dishes made of Mealie Meal celebrating with such sincerity and gratitude is so humbling. But in the states, all that meaning gets lost in the marketing, the gifting glory, and the familial drama.

But when you think about it, what "it" all REALLY means--the tree, the stars, the 25th of December--doesn't add up. The so-called "real" reason for Christmas was never real at all; or at least it's as real as the Hallmark reason for Christmas-- marketing. So I've concluded each person has to find their own meaning in Christmas, like most things. Honestly, I still don't know what Christmas means to me. I know what I want it to mean though. And I will spend the next few years trying to re-make my Christmas so it has the meaning that I want-love, family, and generosity. This year was a good start...

For further thoughts on Christmas...
Thanks for your thoughts Kim! May Christmas always mean love, family, friendship, and excellent marketing...

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