The Christmas season has passed and how, we as a broad community, celebrate and recognize it has left me with a few thoughts.
All of us yearn for a warm, sweet memory of Christmas, past and present. The Hallmark Channel recognized this and presented nearly 80 full-length, made-for-television, original movies about Christmas with characters either bereft of “spirit” or in search of it. The presentations started well in advance of Christmas, and some were actually aired in July as an homage to what we love about the festive and joyous holiday.
The movies are presumably popular and have been a mainstay for Hallmark for about 10 years and, as proof, there seems to be no dearth of sponsors.
Who can't like Christmas and who wouldn't sponsor a feel good show about Christmas? However, we live in a secular and politically correct society that frowns upon any overt reference to what are the origins of Christmas — the birth of Christ and the origin of the Christian religion that now numbers membership of 2.5 billion out of 7.5 billion people.
The holiday shows in general depict human — not necessarily spiritual — plots that can elicit the warm, fuzzy feelings for which Americans yearn. Plot lines vary, maybe the saving of a family tree farm, the participation in a civic play or maybe some personal relationship based on a fond Christmas memory. In a society that generally makes any kind of religious message or statement seem unintelligent and anti-intellectual, such a presentation would no doubt raise the hackles of the politically correct police.
Certainly, that's OK, because to completely depict all Christmas memories in a decidedly Christian vane would be exclusionary and discriminatory. To completely ignore the religious basis for our revered holiday is equally exclusionary and discriminatory.
Of course, there are “Christian” and “Catholic” media sources that fill the gap as far as they can go, but some “popular” presentation of a religious message (with disclaimer if necessary — "The following program presents a profoundly Christian message; viewer discretion advised.") would go a long way to present another perspective on a holiday that has degenerated into total gift purchasing, presenting and receiving.
Everyone always agrees that Christmas isn't about the commerce of the holiday but should be about more; it should involve all sorts of positive human emotions and interactions way beyond just giving and receiving something usually perishable and unmemorable.
If we are able to make human connections spanning the holiday, facilitated more easily by a religious message, we have made something that will last the lifetimes of those involved.
The message of 2,000 years ago with the birth of an infant who would revolutionize human thought and behavior (in most cases) is a fantastic way to begin our search for meaning beyond ourselves and a meaningful insertion into the lives of those with whom we live and work.
Meher Baba said, “The finding of God is the coming to one's own self” because He is in us and all we have to do is to look for Him and share his presence with others. Of the myriad religious messages one can find in the Christmas feast, this is one of the most important. I hope you had a warm and wonderful Christmas.
Gary DeSantis is a Meadville resident and author of a book titled “The 6th Floor.”