Let’s stop using the birth of Christ as an excuse to expand the economy. Increasingly today, nobody cares about December 25th. Rather, it has become just a day for retailers to restock shelves with goods that they have in inventory in hopes of selling them off at “sale” prices that are still above their original cost.
Decorations start going up as early as October in preparation for Black Thursday or Friday or whatever day the retail industry starts counting profits. Why not just call this period “the Holidays” and forget any reference to Christ. Kwanzaa is celebrated between December 26th and January 1st. Hanukkah begins December 12th and ends December 20th. Christians celebrate Christmas on December 24th and December 25th. All these Holidays seem to dilute the celebration of the birth of Christ.
I can’t think of a positive feature for this period as far as religion goes. We get thousands of what we have referred to in the past as “Creasters” attending services. These are people who feel a religious urge to come to the church that they have not seen in almost a year. Financially, it is a disaster as they add nothing to the celebration or the collection. Support for their church is non-existent. Why would one support a church when one attends a Mass or service for an hour or two in an entire year? Now we should not judge people by the amount of money that they give. Many people do not have the financial resources to give what is expected today to cover the costs of maintaining a church or synagogue, but it is sort of like tipping your waitress 2% in today’s economy. Giving nothing is better and that is what most “Creasters” do – give nothing.
Now attending the service or Mass is important but coming late and leaving early is also insulting. Why bother coming at all if all one is going to do is attend a partial Mass? Many parishes make extreme efforts to accommodate these part-time Christians. It is difficult for me to call them Catholics and it infuriates me to stand in a hallway or outside in the cold to make sure these people have a seat in a church that they don’t support and don’t attend 98% of the year.
Christmas is a retailer’s bonanza. The Holiday season represents 20% of the retail sales for an entire year and roughly 768,000 seasonal employees are hired each year. The dollar impact is almost $3 trillion dollars. Christ was born in a manger and today we can buy a manger to celebrate his birth from anywhere from $229 up to thousands if we want the exterior version. Of course, it cannot be placed on public property. Live Christmas trees range from $30 to over $150 depending upon the trees size. And this year, Americans will spend over $6 billion dollars on Christmas decorations.
Christmas parades are fun for children to watch. They have large floating balloons, rock bands, singers, marching bands, but like all Christmas celebrations today, they will not contain any reference to religion or the birth of Christ. Retail stores put up reindeers, Santa Claus figures, sleighs, red ribbons, red candles, but absolutely leave out any reference to Christ. So again my premise is why call it Christmas? The best I can come up with is that it is “The Holiday Season.”
Now this may all sound harsh and cruel but I have watched the Christmas season deteriorate from what once was the celebration of Christ maybe 50 to 70 years ago to the commercial nightmare that exists today. In growing circles, Christmas is no longer the celebration of the birth of Christ. That just happens to occur during this Holiday season. More people probably attend Toys R Us than any given church on any given day.
DONALD WITTMER is a retired business executive who held key roles in the automotive and banking sectors. For a time, he also served as a Fiscal Agency Manager for the Detroit branch of the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago. He received his undergraduate degree from Cincinnati’s Xavier University, an M.A. in business management from Central Michigan University, and earned certification in bank operations from the School of Banking at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. A husband, father, and grandfather, he teaches part-time at the Kent Place School for Girls in Summit, New Jersey.