Sunday, December 9, 2012

The "Hallmark" of Christmas

Why can't the religious and secular sides of Christmas co-exist?

By Lajuan Kerr Tallo
’m not one of those folks who gets easily upset about the commercialization of Christmas. I know the legend of Santa Claus bringing toys to the kids on Christmas won’t go away ever or anytime soon. I don’t have a problem with children getting gifts from Santa Claus, who is based somewhat loosely on St. Nicholas of Myra.

It’s not enough that Advent is completely forgotten and we skip straight from Hallowe’en to Thanksgiving to Christmas. Or that schools everywhere are almost banning the use of the name of the Church’s season. What bothers me most is that in all of the fray, the true meaning of Christmas is lost as if there isn’t room for both Santa and the actual real meaning to exist in our culture.

I’m not a fan of today’s Hallmark and Lifetime “holiday” movies. I have watched lots of them, too. There seems to be a some sort of a “formula” for how they are written. There are only a few story lines, with variations on each.

Here’s what I imagine that formula looks like:

Scenario 1: Santa has some sort of an issue at the North Pole. Variations: a) He wants to pass his job to somebody else. b) Everyone has stopped believing in Santa Claus and he’s depressed and wants to quit. c) a combination of the two.

Scenario 2: A widow or widower who lost their loved one on or around Christmas no longer believes in Christmas. They always have a child or children. Variations: a) an “angel” comes and restores their belief in Christmas. b) The guy/girl “friend” who lives next door and has always been there for them suddenly becomes their love interest and restores their belief in Christmas. c) a “stranger” they work with or who shows up in their lives unexpectedly suddenly becomes their love interest and restores their belief in Christmas. (Sometimes this scenario may involve a soldier).

Scenario 3: Do everything you possibly can to leave Mary and Joseph, the Wise Men, the Angels and Shepherds and most especially the baby Jesus out of your movie script. Make sure that no one in the movie mentions anything about any of that.

Even in the midst of the secularization of Christmas, there are things we can do, especially for our children, to “keep Christ in Christmas.” (Of course, practicing your faith comes first.)

Here’s my formula:

Scenario 1: Buy your child an Advent Calendar!

Scenario 2: Do something for a needy child, and get your child involved in that process. Participate in the Angel Tree at your church, and let your child help you get the gifts for that child.

Scenario 3: Get a nativity set and put it in a prominent place at the beginning of Advent. Start out with the animals only and add the other figures as the days go on. Mary and Joseph can be across the room and move closer to the stable every day. On Christmas Eve, everything should be in place except the baby. Make a big deal out of it with your kids. And tell them to go to the set and look for Jesus on Christmas morning.

We can teach our children and remind ourselves what the true Hallmark of Christmas is.


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