I hate Christmas. You can quote me on that. Here are 10 reasons in no particular order that I hate Christmas:
- The music. There are a handful of (like, literally, five) Christmas tunes that are instantly recognizable and utterly transcendent. I’m thinking maybe Silent Night, O Holy Night, possibly Greensleeves, parts of Handel’s Messiah, and not much else. Beyond that most Christmas music is awful. And not just secular Christmas music of the Jingle Bells/Grandma Got Run Over By A Reindeer variety.
- The Christmas Cantata. Yes, we as Protestants know that Baby Jesus grew up to be Our Lord and Savior, and He died on a cross, and rose from the dead on the third day. Do we really need to muddle the Incarnation with the Crucifixion every single year? Isn’t the Incarnation miracle enough for one season?
- Advent. In more high-church traditions we spend a whole month of the liturgical year covering roughly the same handful of Scripture verses; this is one of the problems with the liturgical year: we tend to give most of Scripture short shrift and camp out on some aspect of either Matthew’s telling or Luke’s telling every year. This year my home church is spending an entire month on Auden’s poem For the Time Being [link]. I wish I knew why.
- The War on Christmas. My best guess is that this is a fund-raising exercise on the part of certain parties in the outrage industry. Yes, it grates for someone to wish me a “happy holiday;” who celebrates a generic holiday? Are these the same people who drink “a beer” [link], listen to “an album” [link], or make “repetitive generic music” [link]? Of course not; nobody would admit to doing these things. But everything about the War on Christmas strikes me as cynical and manipulative. Seriously: what’s a war without a body count on both sides? And who kills for Christmas?
- Christmas movies. Seriously; name three good Christmas movies. And I don’t mean movies about “the Christmas season” (e.g. Love Actually or It’s A Wonderful Life) or “the Christmas Spirit” (any telling of Dickens’s Christmas Carol), but movies that are actually about Jesus.
- Christmas specials. The fact that Charles Schulz lost his faith [link] kind of undermines the Charlie Brown Christmas Special for me; once we get away from Linus Van Pelt’s rendering of Luke 2 is there anything left worth seeing in a Christmas special?
- Operation Christmas Child; do we really want Billy Graham’s son exporting American consumerism in the name of Christmas? Are there any worse examples of mixing the consumerist aspects of American Christmas with the religious aspects of Christmas than Operation Christmas Child? Have I mentioned that this is a charity with a budget of more than $300 million?
- Christmas charity generally; there is no worse indictment of the soullessness of contemporary American Christianity than the Christmas appeal. For a Christian there really should be no “season of giving” any more than there should be a “season of love” or “season of forgiveness.” That there is is embarrassing.
- Commercialism. This is the easy one: seriously, don’t you cringe every time you see a commercial featuring some big-ticket item wrapped with a giant red bow? How about the current commercial showing the transitional couple crumbling inside because hubby bought his wife the wrong car for Christmas? Who, apart from the occasional divorce lawyer or ad man, loves this commercial?
- Well, Christmas generally. I’d love to see any evidence that the Early Church celebrated Christmas (especially as an alternative to Saturnalia) alongside Easter.
I wish you and yours the best and hope your Christmas is tasteful, authentic, and on-key. Oh, and may you not be subjected to the Ron Howard/Jim Carrey version of How The Grinch Stole Christmas. Seriously.
And if you do anything that helps you make Christmas meaningful I’d love to hear about it. I’m all out of ideas here.