A friend of mine sent a comical photo of Santa Claus decked out in his most evil holiday splendor, complete with the letters “Santa” slightly altered to create the name Satan. At first, I didn’t think much of it. Then, as one of our kids planted her ass on our couch and waited for someone to bring her stack of presents, I realized what a horrible, disgusting, and embarrassing display of greed and entitlement the Christian celebration of its savior’s birth has become.
Years ago, while our children were still young, I tried to create a Christmas celebration that was more along the lines of what I believe Jesus Christ would have wanted on his birthday. Church on Christmas morning. Prayers of gratitude for our health and happiness. Instead of gifts, I opted to share experiences. Trips. Adventures. Bonding experiences. Things that I thought might help our family become closer. My efforts failed miserably. All we got was complaining and a semblance of depression. We reverted back to the traditional Satanic experience the next year, which we sadly follow today.
Unfortunately, Christmas has become a holiday of obligation. No matter how Christian you pretend to be, if you fail to participate in the awful new anti-Christian gift giving ritual, you’ll be ostracized and labelled with a not-so-clever moniker like Grinch or Scrooge, two titles undoubtedly promoted in conjunction with greedy capitalist industry leadership.
Over the past hundred or so years, Christmas has been further bastardized into a capitalist’s dream, and has metastasized into a Christian nightmare. The word “holiday” evolved from the words “Holy Day.” To the dismay of most true religious folk, Christmas today is rarely holy. It’s not just Christmas – all holidays have gone nuts. From their origins of celebrating successful harvests or religious history, today’s holidays aren’t much more than obligatory gift-giving bonanzas driven by marketing companies. Even the word “holiday” itself would wince in shame, if it could.
How did this happen? Apparently, in the mid 1600s, The Puritans banned Christmas. Christmas, back in those days, became a holiday of gluttony and misbehavior and everything that was frowned upon by many Protestants (apparently, Christians were cool with all this). Puritans believed that Christmas had fallen prey to the traditional and unfortunate European pagan celebrations of the winter solstice, symbolized by darkness and underlying evil during the longest night of the year.
The mid-Atlantic states weren’t quite as conservative, as immigrants continued to ferry those pagan customs with them from Europe. The Christmas of Europe was celebrated outside with liquor and spirits and noise and trouble. Eventually, over time, their celebrations calmed down. Well-to-do new Americans migrated indoors with more tame celebrations limited to close family and friends. This fostered accountability which caused much less trouble, and things calmed down for a while.
It wasn’t until the mid-1800s that the Christmas blasphemy we celebrate today began to evolve. In 1822, Clement Clark-Moore wrote a poem entitled “The Night Before Christmas” based on St. Nicholas, a fourth-century bishop famous for leaving small gifts in stockings hung out to dry above fires. In other stories, there was a separate and unrelated character named “Oden,” the pagan god of yule, who legend serves flew through the air on a freakish eight-legged flying horse. Clark-Moore added some fur, changed the horse to a mere mortal four-legged flying reindeer, and introduced his newly invented character “Santa Claus” the dreadful habit of smoking using appliances. Later, in 1862, a New York illustrator named Thomas Nast took The Night Before Christmas and developed the first popularly accepted image of today’s Santa Claus. Nast embodied St. Nicholas with an impending obesity, envisioned the Naughty and Nice list, and banished Santa to a few hundred square feet in the second coldest climate on Earth with a bunch of enslaved midgets and a sweatshop.
As yet another slight of another silly religion, Vikings in Scandinavia thought that evergreen trees were the special plant of the sun god, Balder. Germany is credited with starting the Christmas tree tradition as we now know it in the 16th century when devout Christians brought decorated trees into their homes. Today, more than thirty million 8 to 10 year-old pine, fir, spruce, balsam, and Frasier trees are slaughtered and sold to families who were told they must to have a “Christmas tree” for a proper Christmas celebration. Retail stores begin to put up those Christmas trees and decorations earlier and earlier every year. One large hobby store I visited actually began decorating in the beginning of August.
Candy companies have furthered the spread of obesity to adults and children with mass-produced candy canes, gingerbread houses, and fruitcake. Toy companies ramp up production for their once-a-year festival of plastic production. Electronic manufacturers follow suit.
Old, white-haired unshaven men with large stomachs populate red chairs in shopping malls and department stores everywhere, taking small children on their knees and creating false hopes with lies and deceit.
Children everywhere are told to “Wait for Christmas”, as gluttony is placed on a temporary hiatus from sometime in late October until December 25th, the date on which the fictional Santa Claus is promised to come and bestow piles of gifts our children firmly believe they are entitled to. Parents sneak into stores late at night to purchase thousands of dollars in merchandise they can’t really afford, hoping to buy a day of happiness with material things, perhaps in an effort to apologize for not spending enough time with their children.
Christmas Eve is the one day every year that even the most lackluster “Christians” find their way to a church pew. Sadly, this is largely out of obligation – if your community peers don’t see you there, they’ll cast dispersions which could damage your reputation. Then Christmas morning arrives. Wide-eyed smiling children filled with hope tear open packages and find their annual supply of toys they’ve been awaiting for the past several months.
In many homes, where it’s already difficult to make ends meet, many children find disappointment because the expensive electronic toy everyone is talking about; the one they’ve seen advertised on television for months; the apparatus that will make or break their holiday happiness – did not appear in their pile of presents under their tree. Sad parents are forced to formulate lies to explain why the promise Santa made to them at the shopping mall remains unsatisfied. After fulfilling the promise to “be good” all year, get good grades in school, respect their family and elders, that overachieving child wonders why his neighbor and classmate, who is nowhere near as behaved or refined, managed to receive that expensive electronic toy. The irony of how “good” children feel sad, cheated, and even neglected is quite disturbing.
What have we done? Have we set ourselves up for a lifetime of depression, and the need for chemical additives to stave off such afflictions? What has happened to “the reason for the season” over the past two thousand years since the birth of Jesus Christ, the namesake for this holy day? How have we, as a society, allowed this ill to perpetrate what is supposed to be a day of joy and celebration and thanks? Perhaps the real question is, how would Jesus Christ feel about what the celebration of his birth has become? It seems we have come to a crossroads of Christianity versus Capitalism.
All men and women should work hard, and should be justly and fairly rewarded for that hard work. But in our currently entrenched system, humanity has introduced dishonesty and greed, where one man knowingly takes advantage of another man’s resources for personal gain. Large organizations have created a deceiving game of psychology based on guilt and shame, firmly endorsed by those we have rewarded most generously. Following the findings of Sigmund Freud and Edward Bernays, marketing organizations have been knowingly influencing good children and decent people to believe that this season of gluttony is completely Christian and the norm through advertisements in every medium they can commandeer. Sadly, we as parents, have endorsed this behavior through ignorance.
Have you ever thought about why you celebrate Christmas they way you do? As a society, we have behaved as lowly sheep succumbing to the whims of corporate magnitude. We have passed a new tradition from generation to generation without ever questioning history, methodology, intent, or accountability. We have allowed, endeared and nurtured a new Puritan nightmare.
What was intended to be a fun, heart-warming story in the mid 1800s has evolved into a shameful maniacal monster of excess, and I am ashamed. Here is my list of the three things I believe need to be done to remedy this silliness.
- The word “Christmas” shall no longer be synonymous with plastic or electronic presents, trees, candy, or other frivolousness. If marketers and large companies need a day for gluttony, let us move that celebration to August or September, and celebrate the beginning of a new and successful school year, where children may receive clothing, supplies, and other useful things.
- Christmas shall once again become “Christ Mass”, in the means of the holy day it was meant to celebrate. True Christians shall observe mass and celebrate the birth and teachings of the son of their god, Jesus Christ, in a place of worship on Christmas day. Christmas cartoons and movies shall be replaced with Christian teachings of generosity and kindness.
- Finally, Saint Nicholas, Kris Kringle, Santa Claus, Knecht Ruprecht, Oden, or any of his other names and likenesses, shall no longer be associated with the Christmas holiday, celebration, imaging, or in any other way, in any country or culture, until the true goodness of Christmas returns.
If Santa were real, I’m sure he would have resigned. As I believe Clarke and Nast would have preferred, were they still souls of this Earth, they would revoke Santa’s status of the mascot of Christmas, and the symbol of an already epidemic level of narcissism.
As a parent following the rules of society, you’ll be forced to participate in this stupidity to avoid painful social chastising. Your only hope is to teach your children the true meaning of holidays, and hope they’re strong enough to eventually buck pop culture and make wise decisions on their own.
There was one child who showed a beacon of hope – our own Christmas miracle, if you will. She is an unemployed student who always feels guilty for not being able to buy Christmas presents. We told her and her siblings they didn’t have to get us presents. I have mentioned on several occasions the irony of society systematically destroying the meaning of Christmas. Apparently, she was listening. She scrounged up a few dollars from errands, and purchased everyone a single gift. They were small and inexpensive. Her magic was her choice of the gifts – each one had a personal meaning to whomever she gave it to. Mine was a coffee cup that read “Best Dad.” Enclosed was a short handwritten letter that expressed her thankfulness for our time, advice, and generosity.
Honestly, that was the single best Christmas gift I had ever received. Faith in humanity restored – momentarily. Christmas can be a wonderful holiday with your friend and family, even with the silly new traditions we’ve created. With a little common sense and moderation, there is a compromise. And it all starts with you.