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Christmas & Winter Holiday Joy, Meaning and Madness

© Donald Reinhardt, November 29, 2013

There is more frenzy, anxiety, stress and less cheer and peace in the 2013 Christmas Winter Holiday season than ever, don't you think? However, it doesn't have to be that way, isn't that true?
Photo: Nativity and the Birth of Christ is the theme for many people at Christmas. Photo Credit: Library of Congress and the YMCA
A Christmas Winter Holiday Question
Test yourself and test others with this question: Are your holidays, particularly these "fall and winter holidays" of Thanksgiving and Christmas, as pleasant and as good as they ever were or are they less pleasant than just a few years ago? Of course, we know there will be different and varied answers to this question. Our responses are influenced by surrounding events or issues of age, health, finances and family conditions. The question on this Christmas Winter Holiday outlook is based on our perceived and personal feelings as to what seems to be happening around us, now maybe even more so than ever. Let me explain.

Changing Christmas Winter Holiday Meaning and Commercial Madness

It seems that Christmas and the winter holidays of the past were a little simpler and more pleasant for everyone. The past was certainly more religiously framed and also related strongly to charitable outreach. Today these holiday times have a high intensity built into them. These times seem extremely busy, very commercial, frenetic, convoluted, expensive and less meaningful with the passage of each year. In short, the season is too commercialized and materialistic and other important things seem to have been redirected away from or buried under all of this contemporary holiday activity. 
Christmas Winter Holiday Themes and Commercialization
I went to a Lowe's store which certainly gears up for winter sales like all merchants. Stacked high above two rows of display shelves were giant 5 to 10 foot or more blowup polyvinyl figures of Santas, snow people (snowmen and snowwomen), reindeer, houses with chimneys, sleighs, sleds and various snow scenes. These were part of the total of about ten of these different, colorful and gaudy lawn displays. There were also at least 14 different styles and varieties of artificial Christmas trees and, of course, a plethora of different types and styles of ornaments, wreaths, carved and poured figures of snowmen, birds, sleds, sleighs and assorted other holiday themes. There were finely-crafted, small, artistic villages with LED lighting and miniature figures appropriate for the village and town. This story is repeated at different stores in different ways.
Also at many other stores there are those hundreds of holiday and Christmas cards with home and snow scenes. Throughout most of these stores you hear holiday music of Rudolph, snowpeople, Grandma getting run over by reindeer and many frolicky and folksy themes.  And as I looked here and there and sought to find the Christ in Christmas, I saw less of him than ever – actually far less. Then, I realized once again, that this was what was changing and making a difference in my Christmas, maybe not yours or someone else's Christmas, but certainly mine. Now for some folks less Christ, or no Christ, is just fine. That's how they prefer Christmas or rather the winter holiday season.
 Finally, at checkout, workers are instructed to wish you a "Happy Holiday" at almost every store – it is part of being politically correct and enforces the misconstrued and misinterpreted concept of "separation of church and state" which some extend to the banning of religious expression. I typically return the "Happy Holidays" wish with the response "And I wish you and your family a Merry Christmas". That response is not a show of the rebel in me, that's part of the real meaning and truth for me.
Christmas-Winter Holiday Shopping and Real Hunting Resemble Each Other

"Duck Dynasty", the reality show, has many thematic purchases available to shoppers and I thought even further. Yes, there's more "stuff" here, there and everywhere. There are electronic gadgets, busy and frenetic shoppers, distraught and harried drivers, impolite customers and some nefarious Black Friday lunatics who will maim and injure others to get the "holiday prize" at the lowest possible price. Black Friday is followed by Cyber Monday and Cyber Tuesday The stores advertise the bait and the customers take the bait. It seems that shopping and hunting have joined forces as specific human attributes and we witness that basic and primeval hunting and modern shopping have merged to create Christmas-winter-holiday madness.

Christmas and Holidays are What You Make Them

After all is said and reviewed, I think it is this simple – we are the controllers of our own destiny and fate with regard to how we celebrate and what we celebrate. Christmas is Christmas and the winter holidays are just that. So, celebrate as you wish and choose and use the ways and means that please and comfort you. There is no need to get caught up in any holiday madness or frenzy, none at all.
I am reminded of "it is better to give than receive." I tell family members each year I have everything I need, don't buy for me, buy and give to someone in real need. 
Peace on earth, goodwill to all men, women, children is one great  Christmas theme among many. The other message at this time certainly is that redemption and salvation of humankind, the lost, the hurting, the abandoned, the needy, and to all of us has come through Christ – that's always the real holiday and Christmas spirit I love to hear and find wherever I go.
A Blessed and Peaceful Christmas to all!
Photo: "Christmas Morn" painting by Bauer. Credit: Library of Congress.