Normally I would not do a post on Christmas before Thanksgiving, because I believe that Thanksgiving is being ignored and pushed aside by Christmas, but something happened this morning that I really need to vent about.
I went into a store with the intention of buying a small Nativity scene to display in my office. Advent begins this Sunday, so I need to get it this week or this weekend. I also intend to display an Advent wreath around the Nativity, and I need a Nativity that has the all the figurines separate because I put them out in a specific order, as the season progresses. I went to the section of the store that has Christmas decorations and began looking around for a Nativity that would suit my needs and couldn't find a single one. Nothing. I thought I must surely be missing it, or maybe it was in a different part of the store for some reason, so I asked a sales person. She didn't even know what a Nativity scene was. I explained: "It will have a creche, with Mary, Joseph, the baby Jesus, the wise men, the shepherds, and an Angel." She said, "Oh, we don't have anything with all that, the only thing we have is this." And she walked over to the lawn decorations, and showed me a light-up 2-D silhouette of Mary, Joseph and baby Jesus. I told her that wouldn't suit my needs and asked her if she knew if they would be getting in anything else and can you fathom what she said? "No. That's the only one like that we have, we won't be getting anymore in, and I don't think we'll be getting anything like you're saying in at all."
I was SHOCKED. I managed to say thank you and walk away. I looked around a little bit more, and realized that I saw NOTHING that made any reference to the birth of Christ whatsoever. Not even the Christmas cards. Not one Madonna and Child. Nothing that said Jesus is the Reason for the Season. Not even a cross in red and green (which seems to be a deep South thing, but I don't like them anyway, because Easter is about the cross, Christmas is about the creche). People have been saying for years that Christmas is too commercialized, and I have always agreed, but I'm afraid now that Christmas, at least in retail, is disappearing. This is not Christmas, my friends. This is not the celebration of a holy day when the Lord God Himself came to earth in the form of a helpless child, despite the consequences, simply because He loves us. What we see in the stores and in many "Christmas" movies and tv specials is Santamas. We see the popculture worship of what has become of the image of St. Nicholas, who was born in Patara (now somewhere in Turkey), who always had a fondness for and watched over children after losing his parents in an epidemic when he was young.
Do I like Santa Clause? You bet. Is he a Christian? If you trace the persona of Santa Clause back to the roots of St. Nicholas, then yes, he was a devout Christian. CHRISTian. CHRISTmas. I think St. Nick is horrified to see what has become of Christmas, and frankly, I am too. Shame on retailers, and thank God for those who truly keep to what Christmas is about (and don't decorate until after Thanksgiving, if any of those are left.)