Now that Turkey Day and Black Friday have passed, it’s now time for the Christmas holidays (as if the decorations that we’ve seen at local stores since before Halloween haven’t already alerted us of the impending celebration). For some of us (at least those of us whose academic calendars are divided into semesters), Christmas is a break, a time to recover from one semester and to prepare for the next. For others (particularly those who work in the retail sector), the time between Black Friday and the end of the year is the busiest time of the year–sales before Christmas, and returns after Christmas (and end-of-the-year sales). And, of course, some people view the upcoming holiday season as a time to worship, as the “twice a year” parishioners attend the Christmas Eve/Christmas Day church services.
But what is Christmas? Is it a time for families to gather and celebrate the birth of Christ, or a time merely to exchange gifts and/or gift cards (and to see who really should have received the stocking full of coal but instead got a new video game)? Is it a celebration that is offensive to non-Christians (and thus leads to the erection of billboards such as the one outside the Lincoln Tunnel: http://newyork.cbslocal.com/2010/11/27/atheist-groups-billboard-targets-closet-non-believers/)? Has the true meaning of Christmas been lost and overly commercialized, or do people still understand why people celebrate Christmas? What do you think? Does anyone else see a problem with a place like Cracker Barrel selling milk glass Nativity scenes at a 25% discount on Black Friday?