Beyond Giving And Getting
Christmas has absolutely destroyed [the real] understanding of the Good News. It’s trained people to believe that Christianity is fundamentally about giving and receiving and that our happiness is in giving and getting what we want. But, in fact, the best Christmases are often the ones in which one doesn’t get what one wants.
—Stanley Hauerwas, interviewed in U.S. Catholic (June 1991)
To avoid offending anybody, the schools dropped religion altogether and started singing about the weather. At my son’s school, they now hold the winter program in February and sing increasingly nonmemorable songs such as “Winter Wonderland,” “Frosty the Snow man” and—this is a real song—“Suzy Snowflake,” all of which is pretty funny because we live in Miami. A visitor from another planet would assume that the children belonged to the Church of Meteorology.
—Dave Barry in his “Notes on Western Civilization” (Chicago Tribune Magazine, July 28, 1991)
What is supposed to be a time of peace and good will becomes, for some, a time when the reality of human greed and folly and cruelty mocks the lovely sentiments of the season.
But I’m not sure anyone can experience what Christmas really means without confronting that sense of lost innocence and the potential for disillusionment the holiday can bring.
Only after we truly face up to Christmas without Santa can we as adults begin to grapple with what Christmas is all about … God’s gift of ultimate hope that our human destiny is something more than a brief, doomed moment in “the benign indifference of the universe.”
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