By Amy McCollom
I was a selfish little nine-year-old, as most of them are, when my little brother asked me that question. Even now, I regret that I told him the wrong answer. But to me, and my limited understanding I had gained during my short nine years on earth, it made perfect sense. He asked me, “What is the difference between Thanksgiving and Christmas?” I told him, “It’s basically the same thing; there’s turkey and pies, and a whole bunch of food and the grown-ups talk about sad stuff, only at Thanksgiving there are no presents, but at Christmas there is. That’s the difference.”
Well, my parents didn’t take us to church. They sent us to church. It makes a big difference. No matter how many Sunday Schools, revivals, Bible Schools, or Sunday Night services we were shipped off to; if those lessons and beliefs were not reinforced at home, we were just confused. Mom and dad drank beer and smoked, but the church people they sent us to any time the church doors were open disapproved of that. That is why it’s so important to take your kids to church and be the example. Parents need to realize that they are responsible for all of that child’s upbringing. Not only health and wellness, but also the child’s morals and belief system and values. Those things get rooted at an early age. (Ok, off of my soapbox.)
When I grew up and had children of my own, I wanted to make sure that they knew why we celebrated each and every holiday. I didn’t want them to make the mistake I did. I especially wanted my kids to understand what Christmas is all about and why we celebrate it. Every year before any gift is opened on Christmas morning, my husband reads the Christmas story from the Bible. We also make a point to set up at least one nativity set in our home and we talk about Jesus anytime Christmas is brought up. We watch the movie The Nativity Story, which I highly recommend. I try my best to make Jesus Christ the center of our Christmas. He is the reason for the season, true story.
One thing I found very interesting; is the way some of the American Muslims look at Christmas. One of Portia’s college instructors is Muslim and he has been very open to answering any questions we have about his beliefs. When asked if he celebrated Christmas, he said that personally, he did not. Most Muslims in the Middle East do not either. But he does have a brother and friends who are Muslim as well, and they do celebrate Christmas. He said,
“We believe in Jesus, we love Jesus. But we don’t celebrate Christmas because of Jesus. We celebrate it because it is just a holiday, and it is a custom of America. We like to get together and share meals and gift giving. But Jesus is not mentioned. It’s just a pleasant time to relax and have a holiday.”
Christmas: what was once a holy religious celebration, formal and proper, decadent and rich in tradition has strayed from its roots and religious meaning; now safely having it’s religiousness removed, Christmas is adorned with singing snowmen, flying reindeer, elves, make-belief winter wonderlands, and a fat man in a red suit that will fulfill all of your hearts desire. You have done it, oh ye offended ones. America has created such a Jesus-Free Christmas even Muslims can celebrate it now. Happy Holidays.
Is it just a holiday to you? Or, as the Grinch asks, “Perhaps, Christmas means a little bit more…”
I hope with everything in me that these words will make you think a little. Take inventory of your heart and mind. What are you celebrating this Christmas? Food and presents like a selfish nine-year-old kid? Or perhaps, a little bit more. Merry Christmas.
(The views and opinions expressed in the submitted columns are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the position of The Journal.)