Black Friday is now in our rear-view mirror, and the always overheated Christmas Juggernaut is entering its second month after its blast-off the day after Halloween.
Our now two-month long ‘Holiday Season’ means that one sixth of the entire year is consumed with Christmas trees, colored lights, and cash registers.
Christmas decorations on Nov. 1 also trigger the annual angst among many who perceive the merchandising forces of America as once again working hand in wallet to smother the Reason for the Season. Personally, I’m not convinced.
It’s my opinion that anyone actually hoodwinked by the holiday hype into thinking Jesus Christ isn’t the reason for Christmas didn’t have much faith in Him to begin with. I suppose all the marketing hoopla can be a serious distraction to Christians seeking a deeper connection to the Savior for a few weeks each year, but it’s no more a distraction than, say anger-inducing political social media, pornography, drug addiction, or the despair of poverty, which fracture our focus every month of the year, not just during the last two.
It seems to me that most of us are able to keep the shopping side of Christmas separate from the religious side. But there’s always someone with a microphone accusing us of being unable to handle basic Christmas multi-tasking without falling into spiritual error. I’m pretty sure I’m capable of honoring the Savior in heart and practice, while still buying a few presents for my kids and grandkids.
And so, I’m guessing, are you. Yes, all the commercial blather is a distraction—but it’s a blather of our own making.
After all, one fifth of retail sales in America are rung up in the weeks leading up to Christmas. That’s a lot of pressure for marketers to outdo each other in competition for your credit card swipe.
In other words, what we spend on Christmas in November and December helps determine who stays employed in January and February.
Sure, it would be better if all the Merry Merchandising wasn’t so economically important to the country, but it is. Twenty percent of the economy in less than six weeks—that’s a lot of pressure on Santa’s sleigh.
Well, we’ve seen this kind of pressure before. After 9/11, with America still reeling from the trauma of that dark day, the nation was in no mood for holiday binge shopping. The pending Christmas economic peril was scary enough for President Bush to speak publicly about the need for us all to shop as usual during the holidays, “or else the terrorists win.”
In 1925, President Calvin Coolidge stated the obvious in suggesting that “the business of America is business.” As the business of America has changed from small agrarian farms to the industrial (and now the digital) revolution, businesses have forged ahead and workers caught in the rip-tides of change have struggled to keep their heads above the water.
This is where we are now, and despite the platitude-laden optimism of some, there’s no going back. Whenever massive economic changes occur the human casualties are equally massive. A lot of people are now struggling in an uncertain world.
And so, underneath all the twinkling lights and holly jolly-ness, the holiday wars continue and the fortunes of companies, and maybe your co-workers, hang in the balance.
One wonders if the Magi had any idea what they were starting when they delivered their little gifts to the equally little Christ child.
But here we are, and the Christmas Season is what it is. It’s a wonderful time of year, for a variety of reasons—some religious, and some not—and we’re surely smart enough to know the difference. All have their place, and their pleasures.
By the way, this week I found a web page that takes on the alleged issue of gift buying as a spiritual distraction during the Christmas season. If you’re curious it’s at buynothingchristmas.org. I suppose the site’s heart is in the right place, but I’m certain that retailers everywhere are praying the idea never catches on—which is kind of ironic when you think about it.