One of my favorite Christmas songs is “Here We Come A-Wassailing.” Wassail is an old English heated liquor made from apples and barley and was commonly drank by the more rich families; it was rare for the poor to enjoy the warm ale. A tradition arose where poor families and poor orphaned children would carol around the rich neighborhoods in London and other southwestern cities on the island, and in return the rich families, enjoying the singing would gladly offer their drink, a few moments by their fires, food, and other merriments because of the joyous occasion.
This was an English tradition, but in other parts of the world traditions arose where the well-to-do would offer comforts to poorer people. This is the basis of our gift giving traditions which has been warped by our culture into a spend-money-and-receive-gifts attitude rather than a spreading of joy and merriment due to the occasion of Christ’s incarnation, the receiving of God’s greatest gift. The olden day’s rich could hardly do otherwise in light of the season.
I hear, so often, from family, friends, and acquaintances that they hate the Christmas season. They hate the songs that are overplayed, the consumerist culture and selfish attitude, the fake spreading of joy, and they even hate the cold equated with the time of year. This baffles me, because I can find no happier season in all the year. So I write to those Scrooge and Grinch like readers to hopefully warm their hearts and encourage their attitude towards this momentous occasion.
First and foremost, Christ the savior was born! Nothing else can be said, because nothing is more joyous. We cannot underestimate how amazing that act of love was, despite the fact that we continuously do. Of course we celebrate His birth throughout the year, and of course we know that Christ was not born of the virgin on December 25, but we have the opportunity, recognized by culture, to spread that fact and the joy and love associated with Christ’s birth, specifically in this season.
Some people think of packed stores full of grumpy, rude shoppers when they think of Christ, but Christmas is not about consumerism or selfish receiving. As counter-cultural people, we should spread correct ideas about the season. We don’t need to remove Christmas from our calendars to avoid consumerism; rather we can celebrate it in a non-consumeristic and selfish way. How much better to spread the joyous news of Christ rather than being angry and depressing about mean shoppers!
Okay, I admit, Christmas music is dramatically overplayed, but that is so for a reason! Christmas music is a style of music in itself, consisting of praising the Lord and encouraging joy in everyone. It is an oxymoron to be upset by Christmas music. Jokingly, I told a student last year that hating Christmas music was akin to hating a rainbow! There is nothing to hate. Maybe you see Christmas music as fake. Maybe it’s fake in the context of packed mall parking lots, but in the same way that we can appreciate Christmas without being obsessively consumeristic, we can appreciate Christmas music without being fakely joyful. When we think about the gift of Christ, and the gift of being with family and friends, we can be as joyous as the music.
So I write to every reader, love the season. If you dislike elements of Christmas, be different. It’s too simple to just be angry and hateful instead of trying to celebrate Christmas in a real way. Learn to love and spread love! Appreciate the talent that’s involved in the lyrics, singing, and playing in Christmas music, even if it is shallow in your consideration; respect what it’s trying to express. If you don’t like cold and the snow, you may be a Grinch, but that’s okay, just stay indoors, wear more clothes, or move to warmer climates. Go out of your way to spread real happiness and love and be counter-cultural! Go caroling and wassailing, be happy and have yourself a merry little Christmas!