What have we done to Christmas?


    I HEAR that in many places something has happened to Christmas; that it is changing from a time of merriment and   carefree gaiety to a holiday which is filled  with tedium; that many people dread the day and the obligation to give Christmas  presents is a nightmare to weary, bored souls; that the children of enlightened parents no longer      believe in Santa Claus; that all in all, the effort to be happy  and have pleasure makes many honest hearts grow dark  with despair instead of  beaming with good will and cheerfulness.” – Julia Peterkin, A Plantation Christmas 1934.

    Holiday most tedious, indeed, has become  of Christmas, ruled as it is by economics. Its message of salvation,  of God come down to man, lost in the shopping frenzy. 

    As one anonymous wit put it: “Once again, we come to the Holiday Season, a deeply religious time that each of us observes, in his own way, by going to the mall of his choice.”

    Which leads me to unearth a sophomoric (un)verse I wrote long ago:  Pasko’y nasa SM, Galleria’t Tutuban, Greenhills  at Landmark, Greenbelt, ‘tsaka Rustan Hugos ang bilihan, wala nang baratan  makakuha lamang ng   mithing laruan,  mamahaling damit, pati kasangkapan.

    Himig nitong Pasko ay Lacoste at Giordano,  dili kaya’s Vuitton,  Ralph Lauren, Benetton.  Larawan ng Pasko wala na kay Kristo, ito’y nasa Prada, Bally, Esprit, Polo,  Fendi, Tommy, Hugo pati Ferregamo. 

    Ito nga ang diwa nitong ating Pasko – para sa mayaman, kaburgisang totoo. “From a  commercial point of view, if Christmas did not exist it would be necessary to  invent it.”

    So Katharine Whitehorn   paraphrased  Voltaire’s own take on the necessity of God. So Santa’s been delisted from the Holy Church’s Calendar  of Saints. Yet belief in him  persisted, nay, twisted for purely commercial purposes. See Santa gulping cola or sipping coffee.

    Santa calling in his elves via mobile. Then there is Santa’s jolly visage appended to  just about anything  hawked this season, from cards to blinking lights, to hams, sausages and  bacon. So who gets it all in the end? 

    “The Christmas season has come to mean the period when the public plays Santa Claus to the merchants.” So right is John Andrew Holmes there. “Oh look, yet another Christmas TV special! How touching to have the meaning of Christmas brought to us by cola, fast food, and  beer….

    Who’d have ever guessed that productconsumption, popular entertainment, and  spirituality would mix so harmoniously?” Indeed, Bill Watterson of Calvin & Hobbes, who’d ever guess that the spirituality of Christmas could spark so much compulsive consumption as to drive the very engine of capitalism?

    And we still wonder why at the end of the season we all feel spent? Read on and wonder no more. “I sometimes think we expect too much of Christmas Day. We try to crowd into it the long arrears of kindliness and  humanity of the whole year.

     As for me, I like to take my Christmas a little at a time, all through the year. And thus I drift  long into the holidays – let them overtake me unexpectedly – waking up some fine morning and suddenly saying  to myself: “Why, this is Christmas Day!” Nugget of wisdom from David Grayson there.

    Truly baffling no end the  character who stole Christmas. Thus, Dr. Seuss: “And the Grinch, with his Grinch-feet ice cold in the snow, stood puzzling and puzzling, how could it be so? It  came without ribbons.

    It came without tags. It came without packages,  boxes or bags. And he  puzzled and puzzled ‘till his puzzler was sore. Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn’tbefore.

    What if Christmas, he thought, doesn’t come from a store. What if Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit  more.” Indeed, Christmas means much, much more:

    “Let Christmas not become a thing Merely of merchant’s  trafficking, Of tinsel, bell and holly wreath And surface pleasure, but beneath The childish glamour, let us find Nourishment for soul and mind.

    Let us follow kinder ways Through our teeming human maze, And help the age of peace to come  From a Dreamer’s martyrdom.” Like Madeline Morse, let us make the Christ  happen in this season’s  celebration as well as in our lives day-to-day 


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