Christmas: old fashioned, or out of touch

We all ask the question.

Is the celebration of Christmas relevant in our culture today?

“We do presents, but it really isn’t about the presents,” said Rhonda Jordan, a Red Deer resident. “When my girls were young we bought them presents, but we were careful to teach them about Jesus and his birth.”

Her daughters echoed her words.

Mindy Jordan responded, “When I was younger, the presents were important, and of course there was always Santa Claus but now that I am older, it is more about family.”

Other shoppers expressed slightly different opinions.

Doug Castle of Red Deer was shopping with his wife and three girls.

“I love Christmas. I love seeing their eyes light up when they see sparkly lights and when they see Santa Claus. Times are tough now, and that is really why we are here (at Walmart), to help friends out with their Christmas. They have had a tough year and we want to help. For me, as long as we can do that, Christmas will never lose importance.”

Tony Winterhalt has a less rosy view.

“I think they should cancel Christmas for five years to teach people what it is really about. For me, I see that so much has changed that is not the same as it was even 10 years ago. With grandkids now, I notice different things that concern me.”

He went on to speak about the full out commercialization of Christmas and his difficulty even getting his family together for a family meal. His Knights of Columbus ticket partner, Tom Solouri, had a sobering observation about Midnight Mass.

“When I was a young man growing up in Italy, the whole village would wait for Midnight Mass to celebrate. It was a time when the whole community came together during Christmas. That was a long time ago, but now, I have seen as few as 80 at Midnight Mass. It saddens me.”

What makes this celebration relevant?

An apparent answer came when the question was asked differently. Is our cultural celebration of Christmas irrelevant?

“Christmas will always matter. The message is one of hope. Hope is always relevant. It doesn’t matter if you are rich, poor, homeless, homeowner, businessman/woman, employee, or retired, Christmas represents hope eternal,” said Elvira Steinhilber.

Fateh Kharmali, a practicing Muslim, expressed his view.

“In our religion, Jesus is one of the prophets. While we do not have special prayers or festivals, we gather with family and observe the season out of respect for others.”

The relevancy of celebrating Christmas is a complex issue. Outwardly, society espouses the season, but ‘old’ expressions such as Merry Christmas have been replaced with the politically correct Seasons Greetings, to walk the middle ground.

Society at large not withstanding, the relevancy of Christmas celebrations depends upon your family background, beliefs, attitudes, and present circumstances. What began as a simple birth that shook the world apart two millennia ago still reverberates today.