I love Dr. Seuss. I grew up reading books by him and I continue to read his books- if I get the chance. And around this time of year, the book that is most relevant is "How The Grinch Stole Christmas."
It is grand for easy reading but there is material in it that is rather thought-provoking. Referring to when the Grinch realizes that although he stole their presents and gifts, the Whos were still happy, comes this quote:
"And the Grinch, with his Grinch-feet ice cold in the snow, stood puzzling and puzzling, how could it be so? It came without ribbons. It came without tags. It came without packages, boxes or bags. And he puzzled and puzzled 'til his puzzler was sore. Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn't before. What if Christmas, he thought, doesn't come from a store? What if Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more?"
In this day and age, nothing, during this time of year, can be more appropriate. I'm not sure how much Christmas was commercialized and exploited back in 1957, but I'm positive that this quote caused as much of a stir then, as it does (or should) now. Not only that but it's certainly something to reflect on when you get the chance.
So what exactly IS Christmas?
Christmas is the annual observation of Jesus's birth. Hence, Christmas is a very Christian holiday. But because efforts have been made to "connect and not offend"; along with our dear friend, political correctness entering the scene, Christmas is now a Christian holiday only if you make it as such.
With this mentality, Santa Claus is emerging as the dominant symbol of Christmas. Not because he doesn't offend (having St. Nick wear a coat made of fur is certain to get some unwanted attention from PETA) but because he replaces the object that causes the most offense.
The advertising industry has taken advantage of Santa Claus's generous nature of giving and turned him into a capitalistic monster. Therefore, Christmas has become a time of gift getting instead of gift giving.
It is a bit of an understatement to say that America has gone away from religion, and for most Christians that pill is a little hard to swallow. As a Christian myself, if you will allow me to be on my soapbox for a bit, this is my take on it:
Following the example of God's gift to us (that gift being Jesus Christ) we are to give as well. We are to serve others and help those in need, following the mentality: "because I have been given much, I too, must give." In my mind, that is what being a Christian is all about. But regardless of religion, Christmas is a time for family; it is a time to reconcile with each other and to realize that we are all on this earth together so we might as well get along. It saddens me that Christmas has gone away from that.
As a little kid, my mom taught me this very simple song, with a very simple lesson on the meaning of Christmas.
"When I was but a youngster,
Christmas meant one thing,
That I'd be getting lots of toys that day.
I learned a whole lot different,
When Mother sat me down,
And taught me to spell Christmas this way:
'C' is for the Christ child, born upon this day,
'H' for herald angels in the night,
'R' means our Redeemer,
'I' means Israel,
'S' is for the star that shone so bright,
'T' is for three wise men, they who traveled far,
'M' is for the manger where he lay,
'A''s for all He stands for,
'S' means shepherds came.
And that's why there's a Christmas day"
* Jacob Olson is an Iowa Central Community College student from Storm Lake. He contributes a weekly column for the Pilot-Tribune