T’is the season. But just what is the reason for the season?

Today I went out to purchase a couple of gifts for my grandchildren and my wife. As I wandered dazed and confused through the stores I began to wonder just why was I there among throngs of others all seemingly bent upon shopping til they drop. I thought to myself “do any of these shoppers really know why they are out spending all their money on gifts for others other than because it is the Christmas season“? Chances are they would all give the answer a friend of mine gave when I asked her why she was frantically buying gifts for family and friends. Her answer was – “because it’s Christmas“.

Because it’s Christmas? Just why do we run around mindlessly buying items for others that they most likely don’t need or even want? One reason put forth is that buying for others at Christmas is keeping with the spirit of giving. We give to others because we love them. Would my love for my wife, daughter, and grandchildren be any less if I didn’t buy them gifts at Christmas? We give to the less fortunate at Christmas. Giving to those who are less fortunate is certainly admirable, but why do most of us limit that giving to the Christmas season? What about peace on earth – goodwill towards men? Now there are good reasons for the season! But why limit your desire for peace and goodwill to the Christmas season? What a wonderful world it could be if we lived those thoughts throughout the year.

For most the Christmas season begins the day after Thanksgiving. Infamous Black Friday starts the buying frenzy; a frenzy which for many doesn’t end until Christmas Eve. Santa Clause makes his first official appearance at the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade. From then on that fat old guy in a red suit is everywhere. My grandchildren had their first visit from Santa at a Christmas party the Saturday after Thanksgiving. Between then and Christmas day those kids will sit on Santa’s knee five or more times before he finally makes his way down their chimney.

I am not a particularly religious person. Most of the time I am not sure there is a god. If there is a god somewhere up there I am not sure he would approve of our conduct during the Christmas season. In keeping with my doubts about god I am not sure that Jesus was the son of god any more than all of us are children of god, but coming from a time past I grew up to believe that Christmas was a celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ. I do recognize Jesus as a great teacher and philosopher and I am sure if he were alive now and could see what is going on during the Christmas season he would clear the malls of vendors much like he cleared the moneylenders from the temple. Years ago Jesus played a much more significant part of the Christmas season. Our local newspaper ran a daily strip telling the story of the nativity: that strip was discontinued many years ago. Nearly every Christmas tree had a ceramic nativity scene at its base: ours has been packed away for ten or more years. Today only the most religious among us see the Christmas season as a season of hope because of the birth of Jesus Christ. Somewhere along the line Christmas got transformed from a religious holiday into a season of indulgence, gluttony, and gross materialism that is more that a little bewildering.

Now I am not saying that we should discontinue buying gifts for others or having Christmas parties. Nor would I banish Santa Claus. But, I would suggest that in between trips to the mall we each take a moment and ask ourselves just what is the reason for the season.