Friday, December 25, 2015

Christmas Day, 2015

If you came here looking for the Great Moments in Editing feature, come back again in two weeks ... today and next Friday are already booked for special posts. You'll get over it.

Today is Christmas Day, the day on which Christians around the world celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ, whose lessons and example many of them decline to follow. Beyond the Christian world, it is a season for general good cheer, the exchange of gifts, and two weeks of uplifting and sentimental television shows which temporarily replace the sex, violence, and cynicism of the remaining 50 weeks of the year.

We’ve long bemoaned the commercialization of Christmas, in which the purchase and exchange of gifts has replaced thoughtful contemplation and love of family. But now, Christmas has been politicized as well. Conservative shouting heads complain about a “war on Christmas,” and both Christians and non-Christians complain about discrimination because they don’t want to have to accommodate religious ideas and traditions which are not their own. Angry Scrooges object to hearing “Merry Christmas” instead of “Happy Hanukkah,” “Happy Solstice,” “Happy Kwanzaa,” or a plain-and-simple “Happy Holidays.” Nuisance lawsuits force towns and cities to remove nativity displays from public places. Scrooge lives on.

The traditional Christmas story that most of us recognize is told in the Bible in the second chapter of the gospel of Matthew:

2:8 And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. 
2:9 And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. 
2:10 And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.
2:11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord. 
2:12 And this shall be a sign unto you; You shall find the Babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. 
2:13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, 
2:14 Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.

Whatever happened to the part about “peace on earth and goodwill toward men*?” It seems to have been replaced by “peace on earth, goodwill only to those who agree with me, and the rest of you can go to Hell.” It’s been replaced by rigid intolerance and stiff-necked self-righteousness that belie both the spirit of the season and the values and teachings of the person whose birth is being celebrated.

Nevertheless, for those willing to put aside their cultural tunnel vision and their petty carping and hatreds, the Christmas season offers a time for joy and renewal, regardless of the religious tradition they profess to follow. It’s a season in which men (okay, persons) of goodwill can come together and treat each other like real human beings rather than like despised “others” … if, of course, they’re willing to bend enough to do so.

And it is, above all, a season for children, who have not yet been spoiled by the cynicism and hatred they’ll learn all too soon. The look on a child’s face on Christmas morning is a wonderful thing, and it reminds us that there is still joy to be found in life, if only we can get past the greed, selfishness, and political chicanery.

And so, Dear Readers, Agnes and I and our extended family wish all of you a very joyous Christmas and a safe, happy, and healthy new year. Blog on!

Have a good day. More thoughts tomorrow.


* Okay, “persons.” Don’t get your holiday knickers in a twist.


eViL pOp TaRt said...

A Merry Christmas to you, Bilbo!

John Hill said...

Merry Christmas!

Gonzo Dave said...

Dangit - now I need to get the dust out of my eyes. Again.

Merry Christmas and Happy assorted other Holidays to you and Agnes!

Elvis Wearing a Bra on His Head said...

Have a great Christmas, Bilbo!

Mike said...

Merry Christmas!

Anemone said...

It's still a good world. Merry Christmas!

allenwoodhaven said...

Well said, as usual. Merry Christmas Bilbo!