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Friday, December 24, 2010

Jesus and Christmas in America

Christmas is a celebration of the family and the virtues that Jesus taught. When I was a child Christmas was a time for family. It was a time to make memories. It was a time to tell stories about the past. It was a time for games. It was a time for creating a bond with your parents so they can teach virtues that make you a better man or woman.

Actually, according to, The Pilgrims who came to the U.S. in 1620 were Puritans who didn't celebrate Christmas. In fact, after the American Revolution Christmas wasn't even considered a Holiday, and Congress was in session on December 25, 1789, which was the first Christmas under the new Constitution.

Attention was brought to Christmas when Washington Irving wrote a book called, "The Sketchbook of Jeffery Crayon, gent," which was a series about the celebration of Christmas. writes that, "In Irving’s mind, Christmas should be a peaceful, warm-hearted holiday bringing groups together across lines of wealth or social status."

Christmas became more popular after the Civil War when the nation was broken and needed to be repaired. The simple message of Christmas was just what the nation needed.

The article notes that, "By the last quarter of the nineteenth century, America eagerly decorated trees, caroled, baked, and shopped for the Christmas season. Since that time, materialism, media, advertising, and mass marketing has made Christmas what it is today. The traditions that we enjoy at Christmas today were invented by blending together customs from many different countries into what is considered by many to be our national holiday."

The truth is, Christmas wasn't declared a national holiday in the U.S. until June 2, 1870. From that time on carolling, Christmas trees, Santa Clause and the Birth of Jesus have been a part of the celebration each year.

Back in the last quarter of the 19th century moms and dads and kids would sit around the living room with a fire burning in the fireplace and they would play games that would last a long time. Dad would play the fiddle and mom would play the piano and all the kids would join in and sing. Stories would be told. There was nothing else to do. People would pray.

Back then kids would be happy to receive a chocolate bar or a book. A book was the best gift of all. A girl would be happy to receive a dress that was hand crafted, and a boy would be happy with a suit and socks and maybe even a new pair of shoes.

Today we plug in our Internets and our video games and become isolated from each other. We don't take the time to pray together. We don't take the time to tell stories.

Today kids expect material things like TVs and Internets. Heck, they might think those things are uncool. I can't even give my kid a green DSI because that is too uncool. I have to go out of my way to get a blue one or a black one. And when I buy clothes for my kids they cringe.

Christmas used to be about creating memories. Memories may still be created, yet most are about how they defeated the game Zelda or a game of NBA 2K11 on the Wii.

Back in the 1800s no kid was upset if he didn't receive a present at all. Back then just being able to slow down, to get off the farm and to have all the family present in the same room was the best gift of all. Just knowing everyone was safe and happy and virtuous was all it took to create a happy moment.

Kids these days don't get the real meaning of Christmas, and the real meaning of Christmas is not shared on TV and by politicians. They don't' get the real meaning of Christmas. In fact, many are afraid to say the word Christmas, let alone Christ, out of fear of offending someone. It's not the meaning of Christmas anymore.

In fact, I heard a mom say the other day to her son, "Son, what do you want for Christmas?"

The son said, "How much do you want to spend?"

To that the mom said, "Two hundred dollars. Why?"

"Then why don't you just give me the money?"

I thought to this, "That kid doesn't get the true meaning of Christmas. That kid was a jerk. That kid was spoiled. He wanted material things before simple things he needs. He definitely didn't get the true meaning of Christmas.

Christmas is about giving. It's about spending time together and to share stories and to create memories. It's about taking time to remember why we are on this planet in the first place. It's a time for remembering what is important in life.

It's not about receiving. It's not about material things. It's not about presents. It's about love. It's about Jesus.



Anonymous said...

More people need to think this way. More parents need to teach their children the true meaning of Christmas. I find it sad that around the thanksgiving table I have 2 nephews and a niece who are flipping through adds circling the things they want for Christmas and so see them circling 46" flatscreens and iPod touches. They are not even in their teens yet. Christmas isn't about who gives or gets the biggest gift. God aleady beat everyone in that department yet 90% of people probably don't even consider that anymore.

kerri said...

Amen to that, Rick.

Merry Christmas -- REJOICE in Jesus.