Christmas is on a Sunday this year. What a bummer. It is so inconvenient when Christmas falls on a Sunday and you have decide whether you are going to open presents, or go to church first.
I believe it was in 2005 when Christmas last fell on a Sunday. That was the year when there was the big stink because Wal-Mart clerks couldn’t say Merry Christmas. The big religious leaders in the country were outraged. Pastors at the mega-churches, or the Whopper churches as I like to call them, called on their parishioners to boycott Wal-Mart (never a bad plan- no matter the season, or your theology) over the issue. And then some of the Whopper churches didn’t even hold services that Christmas morning because Christmas fell on a Sunday and nobody wanted to bother with going to church. Nice.
And now, here we go again. My fellow Christians, this year your celebrations of the birth of Jesus will be interrupted by a bothersome church service. Can you imagine the audacity of having a birthday on a day as important and busy as Christmas? You’d think God would have planned better. I mean look at both Abe Lincoln and George Washington. Those guys had the good sense to be born on a day, a Monday, instead of a fickle, ever drifting date like the 25th. It would have been nice if Abe and George had been born on different Mondays so we could get two days off, but you can’t expect them to think of everything.
Anyway, I once dated a girl who belonged to one of those Christian denominations that didn’t celebrate Christmas, or Easter, or Lent, or anything at all. I could probably name the denomination and not get too much flack because it is one of those denominations that doesn’t have a sense of humor and thus wouldn’t be caught dead reading this, but I’ll leave the name out. It’s better that way. It affords you the opportunity to assume it’s a denomination you don’t like. We’re both happier that way. Anywho-, I asked the girl’s mother why they didn’t celebrate Christmas and she said, “We celebrate the birth of the Lord everyday.” On the surface that seems like pretty sound thinking to me. Why pick out one day to hype your savior when you could, and probably should, hype your savior everyday? I don’t think that you sin if you don’t celebrate Christmas on the 25th. And it is okay to love God the other 364 days of the year.
But- here comes the rub. Two weeks before what many people in the US refer to as Christmas Day, I went to visit my girlfriend at her house. In the living room was a big evergreen decked out with lights, glass globes, tinsel…the works. Even a star on top. I said, “What’s that? I thought you didn’t celebrate Christmas.” My girlfriend’s mother said, “We don’t. But on the twenty-fifth we give each other gifts.”
Not long into that conversation I also learned that my girlfriend and her siblings each got the exact same number of gifts. That way, it was explained to me, nobody gets jealous of how many presents anyone else got.
That means some of those gifts were just pure fluff and filling. The only reason they were purchased was to fill out the quota.
My last question was, “Why do you do this on the twenty-fifth of December if you are not celebrating the birth of Jesus anymore than on any other day?”
The mother said, “Because everybody else does it.”
“So,” I said, “your not celebrating the birth of Jesus, you’re just participating in a massive, selfish act of materialism.”
My girlfriend’s mother didn’t speak to me for three months. Best non-celebration of Christmas gift I ever got.
My point? It’s simple. I don’t care what you do on the twenty-fifth of December. If you want to gather around a tree and give gifts to your loved ones simply because you love them and it is fun to give, I think that’s great. Knock yourself out. Jews, Muslims, Hindus, and atheists are as entitled to, or not to, give gifts on the twenty-fifth as anybody else. If you want to do nothing on the twenty-fifth because you think Christians suck and have ruined the world, that’s fine by me, too. But, if you claim to be a Christian, and I do, then please don’t mar up my celebration by demanding that your Wal-Mart clerk wishes you a Happy Day that Jesus was born, and then gripe and moan when you have to go to church on the kid’s birthday.