Card Choice

Dear J-

I was listening to NPR the other day; there was a nice-sounding Jesuit priest on who was decrying the current trend of sending family cards around for Christmas.  This I thought was unreasonable, but his argument went along the lines that if, on your birthday, I sent you a picture of my family, how would you react?  It’s been rolling around in my head for the last few days, but it’s clear how I would react:  I’d be happy.  If you choose to honor me by celebrating the things you love, the lives that make your life, so much the better for me, so much more enriched I’ll be.

I understand that Christmas is a celebration of Christ’s birthday; I also believe that the timing — nearly coincident with the winter solstice — is no mere happenstance.  Just as we may co-opt the celebrations of other cultures (ask a native, if you will, how big of a holiday Cinco de Mayo really is in Mexico), so too do we co-opt other celebrations to stand in for our traditions.  And if we choose to celebrate the birth of Christ through gathering family and friends, by showing our love for humanity (peace on earth, joy to the world, and goodwill to men strike any particular chords?), wouldn’t Christ be pleased with that?  It’s not that we deliberately exclude all mention; I just happen to believe that we can be holy in deed, if not words.

It sounds like a cop-out, I know.  And I know that I’m nowhere near religious (the storm I brewed over my head this morning, researching serial numbers and tracing their history, was dark indeed), so my grasp and perception is tenuous at best, and superficial besides.  But I’ll stand by my original assertion, that organized religion had to have its origins in a social code allowing people to live together without excessive strife.  It makes a neat sort of sense to me; should your religion promote killing each other, pretty soon you’re not going to have many followers left.  We believe in intangibles; we have faith in shaping forces; above all we’re bound to discover that what we have in common holds us together more tightly than we suspect, closer than any wedges we choose for ourselves.

Mike

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4 Responses to “Card Choice”

  1. Archie Says:

    I right there with you. I think giving is the reason for the season. It makes sense to buy something to give. I say. God bless. Merry Christmas. And Shop ’till you drop! I like to receive, but I like to give even more!

  2. dearJ Says:

    Agreed: way more fun to give. Twenty years ago, at 13, I might have said the opposite, but even then there was the thrill of finding the perfect gift.

  3. junior Says:

    Sounds to me like buddy has lost perspective on what’s important during the season; decrying people behaving in a civilized fashion towards one another seems like a step taken in error.

  4. dearJ Says:

    Does observing the rituals without considering the meaning make for hollow meaning? Faith requires faith and reason in equal measures, after all.

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