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Christmas used to be my favorite holiday. It was always the most magical time of year as a child - happy decorations, family fun, and of course presents from Santa. I waited for it all year and it seemed like it would never arrive. Now that I am older and jaded, Christmas just doesn't hold the same appeal. I have talked with many people about my problems with the current American traditions. Here are some of my primary problems:

1) It is a religious holiday, yet it is popularly accepted by most people, barring their faith in another religion; even then many folks still participate in gift-giving or other events. It doesn't matter if you don't pray, or go to church, or even believe in God or Jesus, many people still give presents and say "Merry Christmas." Why?

2) Despite being a religious celebration, I have never seen any kind of Christmas ad even mentioning Jesus (except for specifically religious organizations). Somehow it's taboo to mention the person named after this holiday. You'll never see a Best Buy ad that says, "Celebrate the birth of Lord Jesus Christ with an HD tv this Christmas!" It sounds tacky, but isn't selling people products under the pretense of religion even more tacky?

3) Christmas has been consumed by consumerism. It's not about bring Christ's message of love to others, it's about spending money on gifts. In some cases. it's about elaborate and expensive gifts; just look at the jewelry ads aimed at couples - you don't really love your wife unless you buy her a diamond necklace. Increased spending and large profits are good for our economy, but should they be a factor in our spiritual life?

4) In America, it seems that the main figure associated with Christmas is not Christ, but Santa Claus. You can Google "Christmas" and see for yourself - after the Wikipedia page about Christmas, the second link is Santa Claus and Christmas at the North Pole. The first sponsored link is Track Santa 'til Christmas, followed by GE - Santa's New Sleigh. Only near the bottom of the first page is there a link to anything religious, a Catholic encyclopedia entry about Christmas. Why has the focus shifted from Jesus Christ to Santa Claus?

These are some of the issues I have with Christmas. I try to enjoy this time of year, but it's difficult when every ad on TV is telling me which phone to give for Christmas, which stores to shop at, and nobody seems to care that celebrating the positive message of Christ has fallen by the wayside. At this point I just dread Christmas and want it to be over.

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Christmas used to be my favorite holiday. It was always the most magical time of year as a child - happy decorations, family fun, and of course presents from Santa. I waited for it all year and it seemed like it would never arrive. Now that I am older and jaded, Christmas just doesn't hold the same appeal. I have talked with many people about my problems with the current American traditions. Here are some of my primary problems:

1) It is a religious holiday, yet it is popularly accepted by most people, barring their faith in another religion; even then many folks still participate in gift-giving or other events. It doesn't matter if you don't pray, or go to church, or even believe in God or Jesus, many people still give presents and say "Merry Christmas." Why?

That's why you don't like Christmas anymore? Maybe you're just too worried about what other people do. Or, maybe not - that's something only you can decide.

4) In America, it seems that the main figure associated with Christmas is not Christ, but Santa Claus. You can Google "Christmas" and see for yourself - after the Wikipedia page about Christmas, the second link is Santa Claus and Christmas at the North Pole. The first sponsored link is Track Santa 'til Christmas, followed by GE - Santa's New Sleigh. Only near the bottom of the first page is there a link to anything religious, a Catholic encyclopedia entry about Christmas. Why has the focus shifted from Jesus Christ to Santa Claus?

These are some of the issues I have with Christmas. I try to enjoy this time of year, but it's difficult when every ad on TV is telling me which phone to give for Christmas, which stores to shop at, and nobody seems to care that celebrating the positive message of Christ has fallen by the wayside. At this point I just dread Christmas and want it to be over.

Um, not meaning to be rude or anything, but I feel I should point out that you said that as a child Christmas seemed magical to you because of happy decorations, family fun, and of course presents from Santa.

There's no mention of the positive message of Christ there.

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Materialist excess is not limited to this season, but fills the whole year.

Jesus is not used in advertising because it would be tasteless, and opposed by Christians as sacrilegious.

I personally find the myth of Santa Claus to be more than adequate to represent this holiday.

The fact is, Jesus is a dwindling part of the popular celebration of this season.

Which should not be a surprise, as he was not a part of the origin of this holiday,

only appearing centuries after its inception.

The point of this holiday is to bring light to the darkest part of the year,

to bring cheer to the the most depressing part of the year, and

to bring us close to our family and friends, and those who are neither.

It is a season of sharing and giving, and of gratitude, acceptance, and peace.

Holidays are about people, not gods. Join the party.

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Every year the Royal Mail in the UK issues Christmas stamps (nice for collectors, and they make Christmas Card envelopes pretty).

When they started doing it, there was a fuss about using religious imagery: the main reason was that people felt it would be blasphemous to put an image of Christ on a stamp, which would then have a frank stamped on top of it, be licked, possibly dropped, and eventually torn up and thrown away - ie that it would be disresepctful to put a sacred image on a mundane object.

At the same time, some of the more extreme Protestant groups were (and still are) against using any form of religious imagery at all, in case it lead to idolatry.

Anyway, the imagery used on Christmas stamps in Britain has always been secular and seasonal - snow scenes, Father Christmas, jolly sleigh rides, robins, holly and so on.

In the last couple of years some militant Christian groups have been complaining that it's disrespectful, a sign of dreadful secularisation, etc, etc that the annual Christmas stamps issue does NOT use religious imagery...

So you can't win - but one wonders why the protests have changed in such a way.

It seems to me that the two earlier points of view both took the imagery seriously. I'm not sure the current militant Christian complaints do...

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The following comes from a forwarded e-mail sent to our friend Pastor Harry and then sent along to me Happy Holidays:

Letter from Jesus about Christmas

It has come to my attention that many of you are upset that folks are taking My name out of the season.

How I personally feel about this celebration can probably be most easily understood by those of you who have been blessed with children of your own. I don't care what you call the day. If you want to celebrate My birth, just GET ALONG AND LOVE ONE ANOTHER.

Now, having said that let Me go on. If it bothers you that the town in which you live doesn't allow a scene depicting My birth, then just get rid of a couple of Santas and snowmen and put in a small Nativity scene on your own front lawn. If all My followers did that there wouldn't be any need for such a scene on the town square because there would be many of them all around town.

Stop worrying about the fact that people are calling the tree a holiday tree, instead of a Christmas tree. It was I who made all trees. You can remember Me anytime you see any tree. Decorate a grape vine if you wish: I actually spoke of that one in a teaching, explaining who I am in relation to you and what each of our tasks were. If you have forgotten that one, look up John 15: 1 - 8.

If you want to give Me a present in remembrance of My birth here is my wish list. Choose something from it:

1. Instead of writing protest letters objecting to the way My birthday is being celebrated, write letters of love and hope to soldiers away from home. They are terribly afraid and lonely this time of year. I know, they tell Me all the time.

2. Visit someone in a nursing home. You don't have to know them personally. They just need to know that someone cares about them.

3. Instead of writing the President complaining about the wording on the cards his staff sent out this year, why don't you write and tell him that you'll be praying for him and his family this year. Then follow up... It will be nice hearing from you again.

4. Instead of giving your children a lot of gifts you can't afford and they don't need, spend time with them. Tell them the story of My birth, and why I came to live with you down here. Hold them in your arms and remind them that I love them.

5. Pick someone that has hurt you in the past and forgive him or her.

6. Did you know that someone in your town will attempt to take their own life this season because they feel so alone and hopeless? Since you don't know who that person is, try giving everyone you meet a warm smile; it could make the difference.

7. Instead of nitpicking about what the retailer in your town calls the holiday, be patient with the people who work there. Give them a warm smile and a kind word. Even if they aren't allowed to wish you a "Merry Christmas" that doesn't keep you from wishing them one. Then stop shopping there on Sunday. If the store didn't make so much money on that day they'd close and let their employees spend the day at home with their families.

8. If you really want to make a difference, support a missionary--especially one who takes My love and Good News to those who have never heard My name.

9. Here's a good one. There are individuals and whole families in your town who not only will have no "Christmas" tree, but neither will they have any presents to give or receive. If you don't know them, buy some food and a few gifts and give them to the Salvation Army or some other charity which believes in Me and they will make the delivery for you.

10. Finally, if you want to make a statement about your belief in and loyalty to Me, then behave like a Christian. Don't do things in secret that you wouldn't do in My presence. Let people know by your actions that you are one of mine.

Don't forget; I am God and can take care of Myself. Just love Me and do what I have told you to do. I'll take care of all the rest. Check out the list above and get to work; time is short. I'll help you, but the ball is now in your court. And do have a most blessed Christmas with all those whom you love and remember:

I LOVE YOU,

JESUS

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That's why you don't like Christmas anymore? Maybe you're just too worried about what other people do. Or, maybe not - that's something only you can decide.

...

Um, not meaning to be rude or anything, but I feel I should point out that you said that as a child Christmas seemed magical to you because of happy decorations, family fun, and of course presents from Santa.

There's no mention of the positive message of Christ there.

Yes, that's exactly my point. It did seem magical, but for all the non-religious reasons I described. It's only now that I can examine the traditions that I, like many others, held so dear without question.

And I don't like Christmas for a number of reasons, such as the ones I mentioned. I do worry about it because it's unavoidable in America - you can't escape the Christmas season. If you can, I'd like to know where it is and how to get there.

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Terrific post Fawzo.

This bit...

. Did you know that someone in your town will attempt to take their own life this season because they feel so alone and hopeless? Since you don't know who that person is, try giving everyone you meet a warm smile; it could make the difference.

...reminded me of a memoir by one of the few attempted suicides off the Golden Gate who survived to tell the tale.

On his way to the bridge he decided that if nobody made eye contact and smiled at him, he would jump.

Nobody did.

Just after he jumped he realised that everything in his life could be fixed - apart from one thing, the fact that he had jumped.

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Christmas used to be my favorite holiday. It was always the most magical time of year as a child - happy decorations, family fun, and of course presents from Santa. I waited for it all year and it seemed like it would never arrive. Now that I am older and jaded, Christmas just doesn't hold the same appeal. I have talked with many people about my problems with the current American traditions. Here are some of my primary problems:

1) It is a religious holiday, yet it is popularly accepted by most people, barring their faith in another religion; even then many folks still participate in gift-giving or other events. It doesn't matter if you don't pray, or go to church, or even believe in God or Jesus, many people still give presents and say "Merry Christmas." Why?

2) Despite being a religious celebration, I have never seen any kind of Christmas ad even mentioning Jesus (except for specifically religious organizations). Somehow it's taboo to mention the person named after this holiday. You'll never see a Best Buy ad that says, "Celebrate the birth of Lord Jesus Christ with an HD tv this Christmas!" It sounds tacky, but isn't selling people products under the pretense of religion even more tacky?

3) Christmas has been consumed by consumerism. It's not about bring Christ's message of love to others, it's about spending money on gifts. In some cases. it's about elaborate and expensive gifts; just look at the jewelry ads aimed at couples - you don't really love your wife unless you buy her a diamond necklace. Increased spending and large profits are good for our economy, but should they be a factor in our spiritual life?

4) In America, it seems that the main figure associated with Christmas is not Christ, but Santa Claus. You can Google "Christmas" and see for yourself - after the Wikipedia page about Christmas, the second link is Santa Claus and Christmas at the North Pole. The first sponsored link is Track Santa 'til Christmas, followed by GE - Santa's New Sleigh. Only near the bottom of the first page is there a link to anything religious, a Catholic encyclopedia entry about Christmas. Why has the focus shifted from Jesus Christ to Santa Claus?

These are some of the issues I have with Christmas. I try to enjoy this time of year, but it's difficult when every ad on TV is telling me which phone to give for Christmas, which stores to shop at, and nobody seems to care that celebrating the positive message of Christ has fallen by the wayside. At this point I just dread Christmas and want it to be over.

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Hi,

Thank you for writing something so true. When I was growing up Christmas was about Jesus and family, not expensive gifts. It seems that people are too concerned with out doing each - who can buy more gifts, who can decorative the best, who can dress the best,the list goes on. Why cann't people stop and take the time to enjoy what they have and the people in their lives. I dread this time of year, it's too stressful. I told my daughter next year only one gift and it's should be homemade, she was actually happy for that. She is 18. Schools don't even call Christmas break that anymore it's Holiday break. No wonder society is such a mess.

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In addition to being a federal holiday, Christmas is a birthday celebration that has largely turned into massive consumerism, political correctness and material expectations.

To varying degrees for different people, this "HOLIday" representing the birth of likely the most influential person ever discussed, is a sacred religious event, paid time off from work, an excuse for a family gathering, or a chance to buy and/or receive something new. It is also an annual opportunity for the secular community to be divisive. We get to hear the same 40 songs played about 100 times. And there are also good movie marathons and football on TV. Mailmen work their buns off......

Merry Christmas, everyone.........

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"Christmas" is like "Marriage" in that there are two equally valid points of view: the secular and the religious.

I find it fascinating that many of the most currently cherished icons of the Christian holy day actually came from pagan solstice rituals - rituals adopted to make the Church more attractive to the Druids and others - the most obvious being the Christmas Tree. Christmas lights were also a completely secular observance of the winter solstice, meant to celebrate the lengthening of the day.

Christmas is also a purely secular holiday, spent away from the workplace with friends and family and reveling in togetherness, feasting, and football.

Either way, Christmas is a special time, and we can celebrate it whether we celebrate it as the birth of the messiah, a celebration that the sun begins its return to the north, or makes us remember the joy of family and friends and giving and receiving and eating ourselves sleepy.

Merry Christmas!

Peace.

Rev.John

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