The American Dream
Saturday, December 24, 2011
For millions of American families, there will be no Christmas this year. The sad truth is that an increasing number of families simply do not have money for Christmas presents or any other luxuries right now. The number of Americans that fell into poverty set a new all-time record last year andextreme poverty is at the highest level ever measured in the United States. This Christmas, a lot of American families will be deciding whether to spend the little money that they do have on food, heat or medicine. All over America, the poor are getting poorer and each year the economic pain seems to get even worse. But there are also many American families that will have no Christmas this year for other reasons. Some are just sick and tired of all of the materialism that is involved in Christmas. Others are trying to be “politically correct” and don’t want to offend anyone. There are even a growing number of Americans that are Christians but that believe that Christians should not celebrate Christmas for spiritual reasons. Once upon a time, Christmas was pretty much considered to be a nearly universal holiday in the United States, but that just is not the case anymore. There are millions upon millions of Americans that simply will not be celebrating Christmas at all this year.
Perhaps you and your family are swimming in Christmas gifts this year. But when you don’t have enough money for even the basics, buying Christmas gifts can be an extreme financial burden.
What some people are willing to do to buy Christmas gifts is absolutely incredible. For example, one soldier up in Michigan actually pawned his Purple Heart medal so that he could pay his Christmas bills.
Can you imagine?
Other Americans are eliminating Christmas presents altogether this year because the money simply is not there. The following story comes from a recent articlein USA Today….
Others have no choice but to downsize Christmas. Kate Pearson, 33, a single mom in Atlanta, lost her secretarial job in January and has told her two children that they’re starting new traditions this year.
They drew a festive, 6-foot tree on craft paper and taped it to a wall. “Instead of gifts, which I can’t afford, we’re writing letters to each other that we will open on Christmas morning,” she says. “We’re going to tell each other what we love about our family. And that’s it.”
This year, American families are hurting more than at any other time in recent memory. An astounding 57 percent of all children in the United States now live in homes that are either considered to be “low income” or impoverished.
Needless to say, there are going to be a whole lot of children with a hollow feeling in their stomachs this Christmas morning. Not everyone out there gets to open up giant piles of presents on the morning of December 25th.
The sad truth is that there are not nearly enough good jobs out there for everyone. Unemployment is rampant, and the official government statistics dramatically understate this reality.
If the number of Americans considered to be “looking for work” was the same today as it was back in 2007, the “official” unemployment rate put out by the U.S. government would be up to 11 percent.
But the Obama administration does not want to report double digit unemployment numbers.
They want people to feel good about the economy.
Meanwhile, the number of good jobs continues to decline and incomes continue to fall.
You may be doing very well right now, but there are vast numbers of families that are stretched to the limit financially.
Electricity bills in the United States have risen faster than the overall rate of inflation for five years in a row. A lot of people out there are having a really hard time coming up with enough money to heat their homes this winter.
And more than 46 million Americans are being fed by the federal government right now. Incredibly, more than one out of every seven Americans is on food stamps and one out of every four American children is on food stamps at this point.
But that doesn’t mean that materialism is dead in the United States.
Large numbers of Americans that still do have money are very much enjoying the consumerist lifestyle.
Last night, we saw once again how crazy Americans can get when it comes to consumer products. The rioting and fights over the new Air Jordan shoes that were just released made headlines all over the nation….
In Charlotte, WSOC-TV reported that police were called to at least three malls, including one where glass was smashed from a door and officers were ordering people out of the mall.
The Louisville Courier-Journal said police were called Jefferson Mall to break up a fight that broke out among a large crowd waiting to buy the shoes.
The Fox television station in Seattle reported that police sent to Southcenter Mall used pepper spray on some combative shoppers.
Police also had problems with crowds at malls in the Washington area, San Antonio and in Spokane, Wash.
At this point, shopping has become the great American pastime. We love to buy stuff.
Unfortunately, a lot of us have to go very deeply into debt to buy all this stuff. If you can believe it, one out of every seven Americans has at least 10 credit cards.
Thankfully, a growing number of Americans are getting turned off by all of this materialism. A lot of people have decided that they are going to celebrate Christmas without buying a bunch of presents for everybody. The following example comes from the same USA Today article referenced above….
Jim Arnold, 56, a writer in Los Angeles, spent Christmas in Brazil a few years ago. The low-key approach there, he says, made him realize he could “disconnect” from consumerism and redefine his own holiday.
He stopped buying gifts and sending cards but says he still looks forward to “the parties and the cookies.”
“People drive themselves crazy over Christmas,” he says, “and I don’t think very many of them are really happy about it.”
There is even a website out there called “Buy Nothing Christmas” that encourages people to think differently about Christmas presents. The trend toward a less materialistic Christmas is really starting to catch on – especially as the economy continues to get weaker.
For some Americans, however, the reason for not celebrating Christmas has nothing to do with either the economy or with materialism.
Many Americans have decided that the “politically correct” thing to do is to either not celebrate Christmas at all or to celebrate it as a “non-religious” holiday.
For example, according to CNSNews.com, the Capitol Christmas Tree in Washington D.C. this year pays homage to Barack Obama, but it does not make any reference to Christmas or to Jesus Christ….
The 63-foot Sierra White Fir lighted at the U.S. Capitol Grounds on Dec. 6 as the official 2011 Capitol Christmas Tree includes a prominently displayed ornament paying homage to President Barack Obama, but includes no ornament readily visible to a person standing near the tree’s base that uses the word “Christmas,” or includes an image of the Nativity, or bears the name or image of Jesus Christ.
According to White House Social Secretary Desiree Rogers, the Obama administration is trying to make this “a non-religious Christmas” as much as possible.
But for other religious holidays Barack Obama is not afraid at all to very openly mention religion. The following is from the official White House statementthat marked the beginning of the last celebration of Ramadan….
Times like this remind us of the lesson of all great faiths, including Islam – that we do unto others as we would have them do unto us. In that spirit, I wish Muslims around the world a blessed month, and I look forward to again hosting an iftar dinner here at the White House. Ramadan Kareem.
But it isn’t just Barack Obama that is trying to be “politically correct” about Christmas. The truth is that Christmas is being squeezed into a “politically correct” box all over the nation. A recent article posted on WorldNetDailysummarized some of the assaults that we have seen on Christmas so far this year…
Christmas carolers are thrown out of a U.S. Post Office.
The U.S. military apologizes for promoting a Christian-based charity and relief program providing holiday gifts to poor children.
Across the country, Christmas lights, Christmas trees and menorahs are banned in public areas.
Atheists and “free-thinkers” sue cities into submission, forcing removal of all things “Christ” on public property during the Christian holiday.
But let’s face it – for a large percentage of Americans, Christmas is not a religious holiday. According to one recent survey, 67 percent of Americans agreed that “many of the things I enjoy during the Christmas season have nothing to do with the birth of Jesus Christ.”
Sadly, it is undeniable that for the vast majority of people the primary focus of Christmas is the presents. If you take away the presents, suddenly Christmas becomes a whole lot less interesting for most Americans.
So why do we celebrate Christmas on December 25th anyway?
It comes as a shock to many people to learn that Jesus was not born on December 25th. There is nothing about December 25th in the Bible and Christians did not celebrate December 25th until about 300 years after the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
In fact, there is a huge amount of evidence that Jesus was actually born during the fall during the Feast of Tabernacles. For about a thousand years in advance, God had His people gather on the exact day when the Messiah would be born, in the exact area of the world where the Messiah would be born (Bethlehem is about 5 miles from Jerusalem), and He had them live in humble, temporary shelters for an entire week to foreshadow the manner in which the Messiah would be born and we still missed it.
So where in the world did December 25th come from?
Well, it turns out that the celebration of the birth of the sun god at about the time of the winter solstice goes all the way back to ancient Babylon. In fact, the word “yule” is the ancient Babylonian word for infant.
Throughout history, the birthdays of a whole host of pagan sun gods were celebrated on December 25th. In fact, nearly all of our current “Christmas traditions” can be directly traced back to these ancient pagan celebrations.
In the centuries after Christ came, the Roman Empire dominated the civilized world. Every year, an incredibly popular festival known as Saturnalia was one of the biggest celebrations of the year. It typically ran from the 17th of December to the 23rd of December. Then on December 25th came Dies Natalis Solis Invicti, which means “the birthday of the unconquered sun.” This holiday celebrated the birthday of all the sun gods (such as Mithras) that were worshipped throughout the Roman Empire.
After Constantine legalized Christianity in the early part of the 4th century, he sought to integrate the Christian faith into the broader society as a whole. Pressure was put on Christian leaders to “Christianize” pagan holidays and practices.
In the year 350 A.D., Pope Julius I declared that the birth of Jesus would be celebrated on December 25th, but the celebration of Christmas really did not permanently take hold until the 5th century.
So in the final analysis, Christmas was originally a pagan holiday that was “Christianized” many centuries after the time of Jesus.
As evangelical Christians learn of this history, large numbers of them are deciding not to celebrate Christmas whatsoever. They cite Scriptures such as the following from Deuteronomy chapter 12 as evidence that they should not indulge in any pagan holidays or pagan practices that have been “Christianized”….
…be careful not to be ensnared by inquiring about their gods, saying, “How do these nations serve their gods? We will do the same.” You must not worship the LORD your God in their way, because in worshiping their gods, they do all kinds of detestable things the LORD hates.
After all, they argue, if the word “Satan” was taken out of the Satanic black mass and replaced with the word “Jesus”, that wouldn’t make it alright, would it?
So, as you can see, not all Americans approach Christmas the same way.
Whether it is because of a lack of money, a disgust with materialism, a desire to be politically correct, or deeply held spiritual convictions, the truth is that an increasing number of Americans are celebrating Christmas “differently” or are rejecting it altogether.
In the end, people are going to celebrate whatever they want to celebrate. At least we still have the freedom to decide what holidays we are going to celebrate in the United States.
But as I wrote about recently, they are starting to come after our free speech in America. If we let them take away our First Amendment, eventually we will not be able to say what we want to say or worship the way we want to worship.
Whatever your approach to Christmas is, know what you are celebrating and why you are celebrating it.
If we allow ourselves to become blind followers of anything, we could easily end up like North Korea.
When it comes to Christmas, almost everyone has a very strong opinion. If you disagree with something in this article, that is okay. Please feel free to leave a comment below with your opinion. We should enjoy these times when we can engage in robust debate, because eventually they are going to come and try to take our free speech totally away from us. When those days arrive, we will look back in fondness on the days when we could debate topics like this openly.
This article was posted: Saturday, December 24, 2011 at 12:12 am