Christmas without Christ

Jonah Achumi

Dimapur

 

Last week, during a shopping for some Christmas decorations in one popular shop in the town, there were hundreds of glittering balls, lights, stars, lanterns, Santas and reindeers, socks and hockey sticks, shiny leaves and red berries of different sizes, artificial hollies etc. one thing was missing in all these. Not even a single image of the Birthday Boy or a picture of the Nativity scene was seen amongst these thousands of decorative items. It’s sad that people have become so materialistic that they have lost the real reason of the celebration and meaning of Christmas. Beneath all these glitz and glam, let us repose our faith and rejuvenate our conviction in the birth of Christ. The Mass is meaningless without Christ in it. He is the reason for the season.

 

It’s Christmas time once again. It’s a season of joy and celebration of Christ’s birth. It has also become a time for releasing one’s showy tendencies of flashy acts of conceit ,egotism and airs of ‘better than others’, be it in one’s decorations, dresses, feasts, gifts etc .Materialism and commercialization seems to have hijacked the spirit of spirituality of Christmas. Many of the things we see around epitomizes of getting accustomed ourselves with dispensation of mass insanity of worldly happenings with a tinge of snobbery and vanity .It’s hard to recollect when the unadulterated Christmas in our times even took place. Another reason for the changing perspective of Christmas by many is the secularism spirit which has sprouted wide with the spread of multiculturalism in many society of today’s world. Today’s Christmas imagery is said to have been loaded with nods from the Victorian Era where many of the traditions we hold dear, from Santa Claus to wrapping papers were born.

 

For many of us now it’s a season for exchanging Christmas cakes, decorating our homes with Christmas trees and shining balls and bells, lighting candles, putting up stars ,wearing new clothes, buying new stuffs, organizing family gatherings and reunion with old friends around bonfires linked with wines and meats or coffees, cookies, donuts and so on. People celebrate Christmas differently from one another. For example my family celebrates Christmas by decorating our house. We also exchange gifts, attend church services, cook dinners for friends and relatives. Even though we do all these things, we do still remember the true meaning of Christmas.

 

Stephen Nissenbaum has cataloged the rise of Christmas in his book The Battle for Christmas. It’s a fascinating chronicle of the way in which Christmas was shaped, and part of that shaping was the need of the people to buy things. In particular, the rise of the concept of the Christmas present – “the kind of gift that could be most conveniently procured through a purchase” was there from the very beginning. Already by the 1820s publishers were producing fancy and expensive “gift books” and other specialty gifts specifically for giving during Christmas. By the 1840s merchants were using the image of Santa Claus in advertising as a way to entice spending. In fact, Nissenbaum concludes that in the 1800s, “Christmas became a crucial means of legitimizing the penetration of consumerist behavior into American society.”

 

Of late, Christmas season seems to be connected with endless run of carnivals, crackers, concerts in every nook and corner of our dwellings. But in the midst of all these hustle-bustle, we seem to be forgetting the most important part and the main reason of the season – The Birthday Boy; Jesus Christ whose birth we are celebrating. For many people, Christmas is a time of sorrow. They don’t have the extra money to buy presents for their children, family, and friends. Many are saddened at Christmas time when they think of what they cannot afford what others are enjoying. Many people are sad because they cannot decorate their homes, buy new clothes and stuffs. There are many who cannot even afford even a Christmas cake to share it with their children. While the rich and the haves share and exchange expensive Christmas cakes and gifts, for the have-nots, it is a time of despair and sadness.

 

To many Christians it has become a season of feasting and merry making, wild revelries with drunken stupor, endless night of wild parties without sleep and countless unending events and not to mention the bursting of crackers and fireworks worth of lakhs which do not in any way reveal the true spirit and the essence of this occasion. In other words, our Christmas now seems to be replaced with so much of commercialization and materialistic outlook that the real reason seems to have been stored away in the backyards of most people’s minds. While the real reason of Jesus coming into this world was to save us from our sins celebrating it in a joyful way is not wrong to celebrate but what goes overboard is our inability to overcome the materialistic pursuits and overtaking Christ’s meaning of coming into this world. We seem so much to be lost that we cannot get out of the maze we are in. Let us celebrate Christmas by start teaching our families the significance of Jesus’ birth by celebrating the Christmas in a true meaningful way. The Christmas season is a wonderful opportunity to spread the gospel message and Christ’s love for the world. His lowly birth in the manger from poor parents depicts the humbleness of Christ.

 

Being in the end of year, it is the busiest season for everyone. Again with it the weddings, jubilees, centenaries and annual sessions of every organisation it’s a race against time to complete before the year ends. Obligatory attendances in countless events add more stress and our blood pressures levels shooting up. The true meaning seems to be getting buried in these unending chapters and ever increasing amount of worldly affairs created by ourselves. Added to this, the commercial hype and the happening makes us forget what’s it’s all about in our conscious level. Christmas holidays should be a time for relaxation. It should be time to spend with our families and friends. A time for reflection of our relationship with whose birthday we are celebrating. Let us all free ourselves from all the anxiety and materialism.

 

For many people today, the true meaning of Christmas has no importance as long as they enjoy the festive season to their fullest. In the midst of all the commercialism and revelries let us not forget the true meaning of the occasion. The radical gospel of Jesus Christ is as (or more) relevant now than ever before. Hundreds of thousands of folks in thousands of churches across the world will be celebrating the truth this Christmas: that a Saviour has been born to free mankind from all the ills of the world.

 

While this is a day to celebrate Jesus, it is also a day to remember what Jesus did. Jesus helped those in need such as the poor, the sick, the hungry, the oppressed, and the ones who don’t know Him. He provided the help to anyone who needed it. As Christians, we have always been taught to love thy neighbor, and it’s time we started acting on what Jesus preached. The Christmas season is perfect season to feed, donate, and share some time with the lonely and homeless, as well as appreciating our loved ones that surround us. It’s a time to really feel the “true spirit of Christmas” through the helping of others. The meaning of Christmas is still there for those who seek it but lost completely for those who don’t bother about it. Wishing a very Merry Christmas to everyone.