Does Christmas Really Have Value?
The media complains about the rampant commercialism of the Christmas season and some of the nastiness in Walmart as people fight over deals. They laud the busiest shopping day of the year and make predictions about the economy and ‘consumer sentiment.’ All true, of course. But rarely does the media talk about Christmas in personal terms and what it means.
In recent years, the nuclear family has come under attack. Divorce rates are up, relationships are becoming less permanent, and indeed birth rates in America have experienced a decades-long decline. Family is not the focus of the liberal media. Frankly, the calm comfort of family life is not interesting or newsworthy. But it is vital to our way of life. Most people don’t seem to know that.
What does Christmas give us? What does Christianity give us?
Basically, Christianity gave us America.
America is based on the Judeo-Christian tradition, these religions established the rules for how society lives and gets along together. If you look at the Ten Commandments even from a secular point of view, you have common sense rules for getting along with your neighbors. Think about it, they say don’t steal your neighbor’s stuff, don’t mess with his wife, don’t kill him, etc. Pretty basic. But not necessarily intuitive in an uncivil society. Read the newspapers from the last two years, you will find numerous examples of people with no religious upbringing who no longer understand these simple rules.
And today, Christianity (and Judaism, of course) still teaches and enforces those rules of civility. The result is morality for those who follow and people who take responsibility for the operation of society. To have society you have to WANT society.
To a certain extent, we incorporate these principles into law, but law is not the same as morality. When you open the door for someone struggling with packages or who is old and moving slowly, you are not just conforming to rote habit, you are actually taking responsibility for society at large, making sure that your world works more smoothly for everyone. The law can’t make you do that. In fact, the laws we have would not (and will not) survive if Judeo-Christian morality fails. We are beginning to see just this phenomenon, just look at the looting and riots that have plagued America in the past couple of years!
Christianity also encourages the nuclear family, a dad, a mom, together to raise the children. Throughout most of American history, it has been obvious that a two-parent household is the best way to raise children. We knew this before scientists and philosophers realized that children who inherit the best cultural characteristics from their parents are most likely to survive and procreate, whereas children without two parents are at an extreme disadvantage. The difference is that Christianity supports the family, where scientists and philosophers only think about it.
Christmas is a celebration of all that Christianity brings to us.
If we are adults living far from our original homes (as I am) it is an excuse to travel and reconnect with those values and morality that we grew up with. In my own case, thanks to a particular cousin, I managed to reconnect with much of my family, cousins I had not seen in a long time. These are nice people who have lived good lives.
For kids, it is a chance to connect with the previous generations and to witness the longevity and traditions that have been taught to use throughout our lives, to see the origins of our morality and the value it brings. This year I have had the opportunity to show my nephew’s kids the farm where I grew up. So far we have climbed hay in the hayloft, tramped through the woods along the creek and gotten muddy, and of course “organized the farm” per the 8-year-old’s orders.
Don’t believe for a second that the only value of Christmas is to boost sales data for corporations.
Christmas supports the very fabric of American life, it connects us to where we came from, the traditions, morality and more importantly, to our families. Yes, they can be pains in the butt, but we love them anyway. They are where we came from – and hopefully where we are going, as a family and as a country.