Allow me to digress in my very first line.
THANK YOU to the host of CBC's early weekday morning spot. She has just finished speaking to the film critic, Jesse Wente (which I may be misspelling). He was talking about the Nativity Movie that has just come out. He said it's predictable...my goodness. What a surprise. How could it be anything BUT predictable?
He referred to Jesus being "immaculately" conceived. As I was gritting my teeth through his chatter about the movie, the hostess actually explained that the Immaculate Conception referred to the birth of Mary! She is correct, but I've never heard a correction like that! The reviewer agreed and then went on to say that Mary's "sister" was pregnant with John the Baptist. Oh well. I guess we can't really expect accuracy from our national radio station.
The reason for this blog is an 'essay' by a woman on the Christmas season. She maintained that despite the growing complaints about people not saying "Merry Christmas" but things like "Season's Greetings" or "Happy Holidays", we do not really celebrate Christ's birth.
She says that we cannot celebrate Christ's birth and have Santa Parades, or buy gifts. If we were truly celebrating Christmas, she opines, we would collect money for the poor, be ecologically aware, help at soup kitchens...
When did Christ become Robin Hood? Jesus is the one who said that the poor would always be with us. He is the one who, when the woman anointed him with expensive nard, chastised those who said she should have given the money to the poor instead of spending it on the ointment for him.
Jesus did help the poor. Remember the woman with the hemorrhage, or Mary and Martha when their brother died. He also recognized that he was worthy of adulation. Did not the Wise Men bring the young Christ gifts that could be seen as rather useless to a young child?
I won't mention the religious origins of Santa Claus, as that origin is rather far removed from what we see today. I will mention that Christmas IS the time when many give to the poor. They volunteer at soup kitchens and shelters. They ensure that their Christmas tree is chipped and composted at the end of its life...and decorate their own biodegradeable Christmas wrap.
Is commercialism rampant at Christmas? Yes, I think it is. I made a decision many years ago not to take my children to the mall at this time unless I had no choice. We put Santa in his place. Does this mean we do not celebrate Christ's birth? No, it doesn't. I will say that many who keep the season do not celebrate Christ's birth. It may be choice or ignorance. But many many people DO celebrate Christ's birth. We go to church...sometimes several times...in the course of a couple of days. We also go to church every other Sunday. We also donate, volunteer, and try to walk gently on the Earth.
It does not have to be one or the other. My family and friends do a lot of volunteering at Christmas. We sing in choirs, we proclaim the Good News at Masses. In a way, we are like the woman who anointed Jesus instead of giving money to the poor. We volunteer to celebrate Jesus. There are other times when we will volunteer for the poor.
I once heard it said that in the process of keeping Christ in Christmas, we often end up keeping him ONLY in Christmas. It is the one time of year when many who do not recognize his sovereignty any other time suddenly find it very important to go to Church.
A friend of mine tells a joke about the miracle of the flowers. A man runs up to the priest and very excitedly says he's seen a miracle. The priest is intrigued. The man explains that last time he was in church, the flowers were lilies. Now, they'd changed to poinsettias!
I invite anyone reading this to take note of Advent this year. It starts on Sunday, December 3. Prepare yourself for Christmas as well as you prepare your home!