By Budd Schroeder Chairman Emeritus
Thanksgiving is over and so is Black Friday. People are getting their first rush for the “Holiday Season” and of course, it starts with the big sales and the focus on spending money. There is no more “Merry Christmas.” What used to be a religious holiday to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ has become a season to stimulate the economy and provide profits for merchants and factories.
Check out the local newspapers, fliers and electronic media. It is filled with ads for sales of products. Some merchants and businesses depend on this holiday to end the season in the black because of the surge to buy gifts. Some say the American custom is to spend money you don’t have to buy stuff you don’t need to impress people you don’t even like. The “holiday season” enhances this thought.
The society has changed so much thanks to the liberal leftists that the mention of Jesus is forbidden in some stores. They employees must wish their customers a “Happy Holiday” instead of a “Merry Christmas.” Nativity scenes are forbidden to be placed in government owned places because some atheists or people of faiths other than Christians “might be offended.” Baloney!
This started as a Christian holiday and has denigrated to a time for commerce. While the Christians do celebrate the birth of Christ, they do not infringe on other beliefs or non-beliefs. Who objects to Jews celebrating their holidays like Yom Kippur? Anyone object to Muslims celebrating the Fast of Ramadan? There doesn’t seem to be any outcry to do that. Maybe it has something to do with Christian spirit and practicing the religion as it should be practiced.
Traditionally, Christians used the holiday to come together for the traditional Christmas dinner and exchanged gifts in the tradition of the gifts brought by the Wise Men when Jesus was born. It became a true holiday complete with church services and prayers. That too, unfortunately, has faded.
This column has long expressed the opinion that politics was all about power and money and it seems that the American way of living has been strongly influenced by the same philosophy. A major factor on everyday decisions is, “What is the cost?” That is understandable since this is a capitalistic society. We have been taught that is we worked hard we could be successful and have a good financial future. In so many instances, success is measured in dollars.
That could have a major influence on the shift in the attitude about Christmas. Where family values and traditions were featured during the Christmas season, it seems like the major discussion about the celebration is now, “What did you get for Christmas?” The more the kids got or the more expensive the gift determines how merry their Christmas was.
Still, the message of Christmas does resonate in some aspects of the season. We refer to the concept that it should be a time to help the unfortunate and share some of our bounty. Jesus preached about the value of charity and how those who had the means should take care of those who are less fortunate. We get mailings every day from organizations asking for financial help for the poor, aged, disabled and unfortunate. They hope that there is some compassion that leads to generosity.
Therefore, there is competition for money between compassion and commercialism and generally speaking, commercialism wins. The “what’s in it for me” motivation usually wins. However, it is easy to be generous and there are convenient opportunities to help the unfortunate in an easy manner.
At most stores and malls, shoppers can find people who are standing by the Salvation Army Red Kettle giving shoppers a chance to drop in a couple of bucks that can make a big difference to an unfortunate person or family. For each donation it can be pocket change or a five of ten dollar bill, maybe more, the Salvation Army motto of ‘’Doing the Most Good” comes into play. Of all the recognized charities, this one has the highest ratio of low overhead to the amount given for those who receive the help. Many organizations do wonderful work, but this one has an enviable reputation for efficiency that few can match.
When a disaster strikes, more often than not, the Army Is first on the scene to set up emergency kitchens that feed those affected and to set up shelters. This was recently shown during the storm that devastated Puerto Rico. They beat the government teams by a significant margin.
So, during this Christmas season, when you shop for gifts and you see the Red Kettle, perhaps you can remember the traditional purpose of Christmas and think about others who may be in need of necessities. Maybe you can consider not buying a small unnecessary gift and invest the money in a worthy charity. A couple of bucks you won’t miss can mean a decent Christmas dinner for a hungry poor person. Your money, your choice!