I gave all my classes a test on the last day before Christmas break. Humbug! One kid asked why I was such a Scrooge, and my answer went something like this:
The original cause for celebration was suppose to be the birth of a spiritual being whose life and teachings changed the entire world and inspired countless millions of followers to love their neighbors as themselves, pursue peace over war and violence, protect the innocent, take care of the poor and sick and to spread love and understanding among all people, regardless of their social standing.
And what do we now do to celebrate this spiritual being's birth? We get out our credit cards and shop like madmen . . . we measure the season's success by keeping a close eye on consumer spending, credit card debt and whether or not massive department stores match their earnings estimates. We erect quaint little prop-up manger scenes outside fast food restaurants - I saw one manger scene in front of a Baptist church that had Santa Claus kneeling with the wise men. Aww, how precious.
It took generations to bastardize the Christmas season into this blind orgy of mass consumerism, but here we are, lining up like lemmings trying to get in the mall, deluding ourselves into thinking this is a spiritual holiday.
The best thing I can say about the holiday season is that, for better or worse, it brings families together. True, we dutifully buy gifts for people we don't care about much, but we also take time to give of ourselves to those we love immeasurably, and that is no small thing to remember. It helps get me through it all.