Keeping Christmas
FTLComm - Tisdale - Thursday, November 20, 2008

The Christmas TV commercials are in full swing, stores have geared up for the "holiday season" and just like every year, I am caught wondering, isn't this away to early. One family sent me pictures early this week of them decorating their Christmas tree, I thought it looked a bit small, but learned today that it was their three year old daughter's tree, they will put the family tree up later.

Today as I was driving around I spotted the yard you see at the top of the page, with its collection of "things", the rocking horse is actually animated. The other two pictures on this page were taken of a house I noticed yesterday. There are a lot of other houses that have already started the process of decking out their house and yard for Christmas and it is still over a month before the actual event.

In other years, I have written several times about how this annoyed me, I think I reserve my greatest contempt for the playing of Christmas Carols in stores, especially weeks and weeks before December 25th. But as I thought about it today, I realised that it is just my culture, my family and our traditional upbringing, that is in conflict here. The family that wants to set up their Christmas tree in November have a very different background to mine and view Christmas as something completely different than anything that is part of my background.

You will remember, in Charles Dickens' Christmas Carol, there are so many references to observing Christmas, especially when you consider that Ebenezer himself did not close up shop Christmas day and dismissed the idea of a holiday as "humbug." But at some point, there is reference to "keeping Christmas." This brings to mind an entirely different concept and needs to be considered by this old guy.

Each person, each family, each community, and perhaps the greater society itself, that becomes a collective thing, has its own way to manifest the way they view Christmas. It is for this very reason, to be inclusive, that the ugly term "holiday season" came about, so that every one can share in the experience, without themselves being Christian. I have to force myself to accept the many pathways that seem to have developed as Christmas has widened and widened to include everyone and allows each person to do it their own way. There is no one prescribed "Christmas", no textbook on Christmas does and don'ts and like or not, I just have to get used to it.

Timothy W. Shire

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