Author Topic: The magic of Christmas  (Read 8391 times)

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Offline Variety of Cells

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Re: The magic of Christmas
« Reply #15 on: December 11, 2006, 09:12:56 PM »
I don't think it's "humanly" possible to do Christmas every day.  It's a nice theory though.  The point of Christmas is that there is hope and that you can be forgiven.  That even though you've done crappy things and your boss is a jerk, a piece of mistletoe and a merry Christmas can bring us together.  That is what the birth of Christ gives.  If you're truly sorry, you can be forgiven.  You can start over again.  I think even if you don't believe in Christ, you can still take that message home from the spirit.  There's hope for mankind.  We all get second chances.  The new year can be better and Dec. 25th is a great time to make amends inside your heart for it.  I'm not Christian and I still feel it.

Granted, you could possibly do that all year long but it's hard to be human.  It's hard to resist being a jerk sometimes.  It's nice to have a day set aside for us all to reflect and us all to be warm to each other and us all to think about "Christmas spirit".  It's nice to have the holly and the trees and the pretty ornaments to remind us that life is all about hope and to reach out to each other.  We shouldn't need that, but we are all human and it's hard for us to be good all the time.  It's hard for us to remember things like that as we're busy getting here and there and climbing corporate ladders and everything else we silly humans think is so important.  It's nice to have those symbols.  It's nice to have an excuse to be kind.

People are nicer to each other at Christmastime, be it for some imagined reason or because there really is a "spirit" there.  I agree that it's too commercial and you don't want to shop on Black Friday or all visions of hope and goodness will be pushed out of your mind.  On the other hand, I think overall, people are kinder and more giving around this time of year, despite the stress and time crunch...but don't go to the malls to confirm that  ;)

I want to thank you for chiming in.  People say arguing on the internet is useless, but when you meet the right people I think it can be very beneficial.

You presented a great piece AmandaGal.  But I disagree with you on a fundamental point.  I do not believe it is human nature to be greedy and generally nasty to other people.  I believe that is a product of our particular way of life.  I agree that for some one living in our society it is very tough not to be, but it is not 'human'. 

I can see now, that for our way of life, Christmas is very necessary.  Without it, things might be much worse.  Though at the same time, I do not embrace our way of life, and I do not agree with believing that 'you will be forgiven if you ask for forgiveness".  That lets you continue the way you live instead of seeking some sort of change, and a life style that doesn't breed greed and insensitivity.


Offline Sharktopus

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Re: The magic of Christmas
« Reply #16 on: December 11, 2006, 11:24:46 PM »
Speaking as a person who's pretty much abandoned organized religion, the "Christmas season" has virtually nothing to do with the birth Jesus, or a lamp that miraculously stays lit, for that matter. It's about people being nice to each other for a few weeks out of the year for a change, which is pretty much exactly what Jesus wanted us to do. If you need a spiritual reason to do that, that's fine, but it's not really a religious thing. The decorations and lights, the giving of gifts and sending of cards, the playing of music and singing of songs are just ways to remind us that we should be friendly and cheerful. If you can't find something about the holiday season to enjoy, then you're hopeless and getting a stocking full of reindeer doo from Santa. You deserve worse, but Santa embodies the holiday spirit and just can't bring himself to any worse. [/schmaltz]


Offline Variety of Cells

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Re: The magic of Christmas
« Reply #17 on: December 12, 2006, 12:29:54 AM »
Speaking as a person who's pretty much abandoned organized religion, the "Christmas season" has virtually nothing to do with the birth Jesus, or a lamp that miraculously stays lit, for that matter. It's about people being nice to each other for a few weeks out of the year for a change, which is pretty much exactly what Jesus wanted us to do. If you need a spiritual reason to do that, that's fine, but it's not really a religious thing. The decorations and lights, the giving of gifts and sending of cards, the playing of music and singing of songs are just ways to remind us that we should be friendly and cheerful. If you can't find something about the holiday season to enjoy, then you're hopeless and getting a stocking full of reindeer doo from Santa. You deserve worse, but Santa embodies the holiday spirit and just can't bring himself to any worse. [/schmaltz]

Be nice once a year and you get a present.  If you don't like it, then you get something unpleasant.  That's what I have distilled from your statement.

It is a problem that people aren't nice to each other for most of the year.  But why embrace the Christmas scapegoat?  Christmas doesn't make everything all better.  Being nice once a year isn't enough.  It's better than nothing, that's for sure.  But I will not accept it as the yearly shower that washes away all the bad things you've done.  Those bad things are still there, you still did them, and you still do them again the next year.  I have no problem with being nice.  I fear I've falsely labeled myself.  In calling myself a scrooge I meant only that I don't participate in Christmas.


Offline Sharktopus

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Re: The magic of Christmas
« Reply #18 on: December 12, 2006, 01:35:28 AM »
Speaking as a person who's pretty much abandoned organized religion, the "Christmas season" has virtually nothing to do with the birth Jesus, or a lamp that miraculously stays lit, for that matter. It's about people being nice to each other for a few weeks out of the year for a change, which is pretty much exactly what Jesus wanted us to do. If you need a spiritual reason to do that, that's fine, but it's not really a religious thing. The decorations and lights, the giving of gifts and sending of cards, the playing of music and singing of songs are just ways to remind us that we should be friendly and cheerful. If you can't find something about the holiday season to enjoy, then you're hopeless and getting a stocking full of reindeer doo from Santa. You deserve worse, but Santa embodies the holiday spirit and just can't bring himself to any worse. [/schmaltz]

Be nice once a year and you get a present.  If you don't like it, then you get something unpleasant.  That's what I have distilled from your statement.

It is a problem that people aren't nice to each other for most of the year.  But why embrace the Christmas scapegoat?  Christmas doesn't make everything all better.  Being nice once a year isn't enough.  It's better than nothing, that's for sure.  But I will not accept it as the yearly shower that washes away all the bad things you've done.  Those bad things are still there, you still did them, and you still do them again the next year.  I have no problem with being nice.  I fear I've falsely labeled myself.  In calling myself a scrooge I meant only that I don't participate in Christmas.

You're missing my point. You can't go around smiling at strangers (they'll think you're nuts) and giving your loved ones gifts everyday (you'll go broke). And you certainly can't drag a tree inside the house, or drape lights on the shrubbery all year long. If you did, all those things would lose their seasonal charm. Of course we should be nice to each other all the time, but we aren't. And even if we were nice all the time, a special time when we're extra nice can only be a good thing.

You are right about the being nice and getting a present. While the idea of Santa is fun, it's really a terrible idea to put in kids' heads. If you're good, you'll get presents from a magical being with limited resources, and if you're bad you get a lump of coal. If I should ever have kids I'll try my best to teach them that you should be good because it's the right thing to do, not because you'll get a reward.

Sure, Christmas has become overcomercialized, but just giving up on it won't fix things. I won't try to talk you into it, but I will say that you're missing out. As I said originally, you can only get out of the holidays what you put into them, so if you put in nothing, you can only get nothing.


Offline mrbasehart

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Re: The magic of Christmas
« Reply #19 on: December 12, 2006, 05:37:24 AM »
...then you're hopeless and getting a stocking full of reindeer doo from Santa. You deserve worse, but Santa embodies the holiday spirit and just can't bring himself to any worse.

Don't knock Reindeer doo-doo, it's a great fertilizer. 


Offline Shinigami

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Re: The magic of Christmas
« Reply #20 on: December 12, 2006, 09:05:16 AM »
I've actually heard of several theories that state that many societies have a major Winter holiday to help counteract the depression caused by winter.  So all that yuletide cheer is there to help ease the horrible time that is winter.


Offline Variety of Cells

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Re: The magic of Christmas
« Reply #21 on: December 12, 2006, 10:47:03 AM »
You all have interesting points.  And I did miss Sharktopus's point about desensitization.  I was never suggesting that we have Christmas all year round, only the message of niceness.  The giving of gifts doesn't mean you have to go out and buy something for some one.  If you have something that you think some one else would like, then give it to them.  But I agree that giving gifts everyday wouldn't be realistic. 

I think I now have a better understanding of Christmas.  I still don't choose to participate because I disagree with what it was founded on (the transportation of Jesus' birthday closer to the winter solstice to attract pagans has always bugged me), but I have no problem with holidays where you take the time to reflect on something important, and teach lessons to children at the same time. 


Offline mrbasehart

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Re: The magic of Christmas
« Reply #22 on: December 12, 2006, 10:50:42 AM »
You all have interesting points.  And I did miss Sharktopus's point about desensitization.  I was never suggesting that we have Christmas all year round, only the message of niceness.  The giving of gifts doesn't mean you have to go out and buy something for some one.  If you have something that you think some one else would like, then give it to them.

I would like all of your money.  Please give it to me.   ;)


Offline Tyrant

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Re: The magic of Christmas
« Reply #23 on: December 12, 2006, 11:52:59 AM »
I could be considered a Scrooge. 

The only Christmas magic I've seen is in movies.

So tell me, have you experienced Christmas magic?  Is it really a magical time of year like all these songs keep insisting it is?

Depends on why you celebrate it =)

Do you celebrate "annual gift-giving day"? Or do you celebrate the birth of Jesus? Or perhaps the miracle of Hannukah?

Cuz if you /just/ celebrate the potential "I might get something awesome today" commercial side of things, you may not experience very much "magic" beyond the age of ten or so ;)

....I sound like Linus don't I? *sucks on thumb and holds blanket close*

   Couldn't agree more, J-Proof. It goes beyond the gift giving and any of the tactile, material elements. It even goes beyond whether you've got your family around or not. It boils down to how you celebrate it internally.

    To be completely sappy, I suggest to whomever is reading this thread to find a copy of "A Christmas Carol" and to read it if they've never read it before. My favorite quote is when Scrooge faces the Spirit of Christmas Future and sees his name on the gravestone.

Scrooge pleads,"I will honour Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year. I will live in the Past, the Present, and the Future. The Spirits of all Three shall strive within me. I will not shut out the lessons that they teach.".

   I think that says it all.
   

Alright, I can't argue with the birth of Jesus argument, or Hannukah.  If you truly believe that, then there's nothing wrong with remembering an important event, which might cause this time of year to feel a little magical.

In which case, the magic of Christmas would only apply to people who believe in those events.  I do like what Pak had to say about all tactile things that are different around Christmas time.  But it's still sad that people can only experience the lesson of Christmas once a year. 

Which brings me to Tyrant's argument.  That's a nice quote you've quoted, but I would appreciate it if you would explain what the lessons are that they teach.  I've heard the story quite a few times, but the message always seems muddied and unclear (besides the obvious 'don't be stingy').  People talk often of the message of Christmas, but I have never heard it clearly defined. 

Right now, I am forced to make the conclusion that Christmas or Hannukah is magical only for those who believe in the religious events behind them, especially if the main point is how you personally celebrate it.

     Well, I have to appreciate your willingness to figure this out. I think most people go through life without ever second guessing any of our assorted holidays and what they're supposed to mean.

     The "lessons" Scrooge was referring to are pointed out throughout the story, but to sum it up, it all comes down to something very basic: love. Christmas is a lot of things to alot of people (going to J-Proof's comment), but at its fundamental core, it's about love.

     You go to any religion that has a holiday this time of year, or even to the secular crowd, but underneath it all, it's about the love of others, love for yourself, love for your god, love for strangers, love for people you've never met, love for the entire world.

     The message of Christmas is to, for one day out of the year, act on this love and acknowledge it to yourself and those around you. All the generosity and fellow-feeling you see on the holidays is in response to the one day of the year when everyone can, if they're able, liberate themselves from their social and personal bindings and show this love.

    I hope that helps. Forgive the sap. I just gave myself a cavity typing that.  ;D


Offline Steve-O

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Re: The magic of Christmas
« Reply #24 on: December 12, 2006, 11:56:18 AM »
You are, of course, under no obligation to join in the spirit of the season.  But your arguments against Christmas seem to be based on the faulty assumption that most people are heartless, greedy bastards for the other 364 days of the year, and that's simply not true.

There are, of course, those who spend their lives chasing money and status symbols to the detriment of their fellow man.  It's easy to blame that on modern attitudes, but it's not really a new development.  Tales of greedy tyrants (no offense to our own Tyrant intended) and selfish backstabbers are as old as the written word.  There always have been, and always will be, those for whom self-interest is paramount.

But there also hundreds of thousands who put their time and money into volunteer work and charity.  People do each other millions of small kindnesses every hour of every day, for no other reason than that it's the decent thing to do.  Avarice and selfishness, generosity and altruism; these are all parts of human nature.  The trick is deciding which parts of your nature to indulge.  In my experience, a far greater number choose the latter set.

As for Christmas itself: yes, I do believe there's a bit of magic in it.  It doesn't arise from people simply choosing to be nice; rather, it comes from taking time out from our normally hectic schedules to focus on the things in life that are truly important to us, be they family, friends, God, or an all-encompassing love of delicious Hickory Farms beef log.  In so doing, we recognize, at least for a while, that each of us is truly blessed.  The spirit of kindness, the gift-giving, the general air of bonhommie, the willingness to let some asshole cut you off without laying on the horn and flipping him the double bird -- the "magic", if you will -- these are not forced expressions, but natural outgrowths of that understanding.

To cut to the chase, Christmas is about appreciating the love that surrounds you, whether that's a spiritual love or the more earthly variety.  That people do this only once a year is a simple matter of logistics, but it doesn't prevent us from being decent throughout the year, nor does it provide an annual excuse for bad behavior.  Rather, it re-orients us towards what life is really all about, and recharges our batteries to go out and do good -- or at least, try our level best -- until next December rolls along.

Now back to your regularly scheduled nattering about trivialities.


Offline Pak-Man

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Re: The magic of Christmas
« Reply #25 on: December 12, 2006, 12:04:23 PM »
I think Christmas is more of a string around the finger than one day set aside to act good. When the day grows near, it seems to encourage one to reflect on how they've been throughout the year, and it suddenly becomes a bit obvious if you've lost your way somewhere throughout the year. Christmas is a reminder that we need to love our fellow man (A fact that can be easy to forget, given the right situation) more than it's the only day we're supposed to love our fellow man.


Offline Steve-O

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Re: The magic of Christmas
« Reply #26 on: December 12, 2006, 12:14:03 PM »
And furthermore: God bless us, every one!

Yeah, I said it.


Offline AmandaGal

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Re: The magic of Christmas
« Reply #27 on: December 12, 2006, 12:23:37 PM »
Quote
I think Christmas is more of a string around the finger than one day set aside to act good.

Well said.  I was sort of trying to say that but I guess maybe it came out wrong.  I wasn't saying that people can be jerks all year and then have Christmas and it's all good.  However, when we're busy with our lives, sometimes we do need a kick in the pants to remember that there is more to life than our daily routine. It's nice to have a time of year set aside to remember that, reflect on it and think about what we've done or haven't done over the past year to experience that "more to life." 

What I was trying to say about forgiveness is that it's not too late and Christmas again reminds us of that.  You can change yourself and start over (look at Scrooge :-).  You can do that anytime, true, but we silly humanoids need reminders of this.  Sometimes we don't even realize we're being jerks without some time to think about it and who has time with life as it is?

While it's silly to think that people actually change because of Christmas, I think sometimes, by this time of year, Christmas can pick you up and remind you that life is about more than we normally think about.  I don't know if Christmas really changes anyone but people generally have good intentions to change around this time of the year.

And I consider myself pagan (I'm guessing maybe you[variety] too?) and I have no problem with Christmas being where it is.  I have lots of reasons for that and most are similar to my response when friends invite me to church or tell me that I need to be saved.  I won't go into them here.  It's just a date and the perfect time of year for the birth of Christ and what it symbolizes.  If you think about it, both of the "mythologies" are similar, aren't they? Same with Easter...it's funny how these things mirror each other, ain't it?    ;)
« Last Edit: December 12, 2006, 12:26:25 PM by AmandaGal »
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Offline gammer

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Re: The magic of Christmas
« Reply #28 on: December 12, 2006, 12:28:25 PM »
C'mon, we *all* know that Christmas is just an excuse to over-eat and drink lots of BOOZE!

Just joking... "Maybe Christmas" he thought, "doesn't come from a store. Maybe Christmas...Perhaps...means a little bit more!" (said in a Boris Karloff voice)

« Last Edit: December 12, 2006, 12:38:12 PM by gammer73 »


Offline AmandaGal

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Re: The magic of Christmas
« Reply #29 on: December 12, 2006, 12:37:07 PM »
I know, these posts are making me think I should change my name to Cyndi Lou Who and start singing "Where Are You Christmas?"  I need to get off the warm and sappy mode and get back into bitchy and sarcastic.

I actually dressed up as the Grinch for the zoo last year and made little kids cry (I don't think that was the zoo's intent and I surely didn't try, but they cried anyway).  You know, I think that's the true meaning of Christmas: making little kids cry, bwhahaha.  That's better :-)

[And I'll never wear a "fat suit" again, that was torture..plus the Grinch fingers weren't that fun either. Maybe making people look stupid is the true meaning of Christmas]

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