Somehow I always manage to side with the optimist in me, but not without the bitter aftertaste left by all the consumption of stuff. Well I’m tired of that aftertaste. I wanted to know one way or another if Christmas really has wholesome meaning, or if it truly has been lost in the torrent of commercials and jingles that we are drowned in during the last two months of every year.
So I went to the one place where I thought the dark side of Christmas would be strongest: the Yankee Candle, in South Deerfield, MA. I thought the self-proclaimed “World’s Best Christmas Shop” would be the ultimate test of Christmas’ meaning. If it could survive there, where you can’t turn your head without some bright packaging or enticing scent to befuddle your senses, then it had to be alive everywhere else. Here’s what I found.
Needless to say, I was pleasantly surprised. To be engulfed by throngs of people all being herded through an endless stream of products, and yet have them articulate that Christmas means more than that, tells me that the advertisers and corporations haven’t won, and that I can put aside my fears about a dying Christmas.
I’m not a religious person, so when I asked people what Christmas meant, I actually wasn’t expecting to hear people tell me that it’s about the birth of Jesus. Looking back, I’m a bit surprised that no one made that kind of comment, but I think it says something else about Christmas. In this day and age, the meaning of Christmas has not only not been lost, but it’s evolved to mean something more than was ever intended.
I think Christmas is a holiday for everybody. I don’t care what your religion is. I don’t even care if you want to call it Christmas. It’s the season of giving, of caring, and of enjoying each other’s company. If you’re like me, it’s easy to lose sight of that, and find yourself distraught at the seemingly unstoppable bombardment of consumption. Just remember that beneath that ugly layer of stuff, stuff, and even more stuff, the true meaning of Christmas is not lost, after all, if it can survive here, it ought to be alive and kicking everywhere else.