Sunday, December 11, 2011

grinchy mcscrooge

What is up with kids these days???

Yes, I've become one of those stodgy old geezers that says things like that.  Hear me out, though - in the "olden days," stodgy old geezers were called by a different name - Elders - and people showed them reverence and respect simply because they had managed to live long enough to get gray hairs.

I work with a bunch of people who are, on average, 10 years younger than me.  While this is usually something we don't notice, I can't help but wonder if it is a generational difference that allows me to love Christmas in all its trimmings - the music, the food, the scents, the decorations - and that causes them to adopt an attitude of apathy at best and downright mean-spirited, steal-your-sunshine hatred at worst.  I don't know when this happened since I was too busy to enjoy Christmas the last two years, but it seems that without exception, my colleagues display a total bah humbug attitude toward the holiday season: while I look forward to the isolated 4 weeks each year that I get to listen to Christmas music, they hate it and complain relentlessly about having to listen to it.

I've had it.

What happened to holiday cheer?  Where is the "most wonderful time of the year"?  Why doesn't anyone "buy into" that anymore?

I think most people are quick to blame the heinous over-commercialization of the holiday for all this Anti-Christmas sentiment.  I can understand how it must feel like Toys-R-Us opening at 9pm on Thanksgiving and the ads for holiday shopping season starting right after Halloween can take away the charm and sentimentality of Christmases past.

I think that's only part of a much bigger picture.  I've been thinking a lot about this because to me, Christmas is a joyful time of year - I love Christmas.  I look forward to it the way a child does, but not in anticipation of presents - rather, I linger on every sight and scent, I enjoy every single day.  I smile when I see the first snowflake decorations tied to the lampposts in Philadelphia and the sight of Headhouse Shambles and Rittenhouse Square all lit up for Christmas makes my heart swell.  I feel joy when I walk past a tree or window display of a storefront.  I actually love Christmas shopping because I know that I have all the excuses I need to "spoil" the people I love.  The only thing I really don't like about Christmas is the time that I have to wait between buying a gift and giving it because I love the joy a small token of love and friendship can bring to a person.

Why don't other people have that joy?

From looking around me and doing some serious thinking (who, me?), I think that a bigger part of this new "bah humbug" trend is the deterioration of relationships - relationships with your family, possibly your colleagues or friends, but yes, relationships.  Whether people admit it or not, I think that is why so many young people hate Christmas.  I know people who hate Christmas just because it means they have to see their family and deal with all the drama - when your family is built around dysfunctional relationships, it doesn't feel good to spend time together.  When we place all our worth on being in a romantic relationship, it "ruins" Christmas if that person dumps us before or around the holiday season.

Honestly, friends, what it comes down to is this: a lack of connection to, respect for, and relationship with the Savior whose birth Christmas celebrates removes any last vestige of holiday joy. [Before anyone reading feels the need to bring this up, I am very well aware that the Church strategically selected December 25th due to the celebration of a popular pagan holiday and that December 25th is not actually when Christ was born.  None of that changes the fact that this is the designated holiday to symbolically celebrate the miracle.]

This time of year you hear ads on the television and on the radio, reminding you to "keep Christ in Christmas" or remember the "Reason for the Season" and it's easy to roll your eyes and say it's hokey, but if we refocused the holiday and remembered why we celebrate it, we might find a joy that transcends holiday shopping madness (I freely admit to hating mall shopping during December, despite my love of buying gifts), gives us strength to put aside differences and hurt feelings and gather with our families at the table, and most importantly, gives us a worth that will never be matched by another human being's love.

So what's wrong with kids these days?  They were not raised in a Christian society, so Christmas has never been anything but a secular, universally celebrated, shopping holiday and another excuse for their family to make them miserable.  The songs that I love to listen to remind me of the incredible love God showed by allowing himself to be born as a human infant to poor, unwed parents so that he could live among us, as one of us, and ultimately give his life so that we would no longer be separated from him.  They remind me of the traditions my family has kept and the new ones I have adopted with the family I married into.  They evoke warmth and love and golden images of happy people being nice to each other.

The songs they hate have no meaning apart from reminding them how useless Christmas is now that they aren't children looking for something special under the tree.  As we [as a secular society] have successfully removed God from every facet of society that is not the cloistered halls of a church, we have lost our holiday traditions and the little things that can touch our hearts and make us remember that we have a lot of love to give.

I have a lot of love to give.  Merry Christmas to you and your loved ones from me and mine.


  1. You have just convinced me to get out my Christmas decorations, even if we aren't sure when we will hear back from the bank about the sale and we will be with my husband's family for Christmas (in another state).

    Thanks for that!

  2. I'm glad, Julia :) besides, you'll just have to pack them up after Christmas in two weeks anyway, so you may as well enjoy them now! Merry Christmas to you and your family!