Yesterday I heard on the radio that a recent poll shows that nearly 50% of Americans would prefer that Christmas not exist, because of the stress and financial pressure the holidays cause.
Every year, it seems, I hear something similar and every year it saddens, hurts and sometimes angers me.
I’ve put up some mighty rants in the past against how we celebrate the consumerist frenzy that we call Christmas (for example, HERE and HERE and HERE). I won’t repeat everything I’ve said in them, mostly because it usually seems that the only folks who will agree with me already have those opinions, and the reaction of those who don’t agree will be that I’m advocating taking away their fun.
But I can’t resist one observation. This is also the time of year we see repeated demands from people to “keep Christ in Christmas,” “remember the reason for the season” and the like. On the surface it would appear that those folks are resisting the commercialism and appreciate Christmas for its religious significance, not because it means they get to buy and receive a lot of stuff. But honestly I usually see no difference in how most of them behave and how an average irreligious consumer behaves. They might put a little manger scene in among their other decorations, but they don’t seem to buy and receive any less than anyone else. Often their insistence to “keep Christ in Christmas” just means they want store clerks to greet them with “Merry Christmas” rather than “Happy Holidays.” Of course there a few sincere resistors out there, and I admire them. It isn’t easy to say no. It gets you branded as a scrooge, grinch and cheapskate–by Christians and non-Christians alike. I should know.
But back to the poll that motivated this post.
As we enjoy our spending sprees this season, I hope we’ll reflect for a moment or two on how much pain this season causes people who are financially unable to meet the expectations society places on them at Christmas.
Maybe we should also ponder for a moment the image of a poor unwed teenage girl, giving birth in a stable to a child who would change the world. Should the celebration of an event like that create so much financial pressure that half of society would wish it didn’t even happen?