Every Christmas season Hollywood finds a new way to butcher the meaning of Christmas, and this year is no exception. My most current commercial nemesis is brought to us this year by the people at Macy’s. You may have seen it already, but for those of you who haven’t, it goes like this…..
Did you catch that at the end? Did you notice when Martha Stewart said “it” instead of “he?” I watched it several times just to make sure that’s really what she’s saying, and it is. That’s right, Santa got neutered.
Now I have to admit that I sympathize with what the commercial is saying–what parent hasn’t broken the news to their kids that Santa doesn’t exist by coming up with some story about how Santa is more of a “spirit” or an “idea” that characterizes Christmas. Most people, Christians included, would confess that Santa is real in that sense.
(And for the record, that’s exactly what my parents told me when I learned the painful reality that Santa isn’t real, but it didn’t make me feel better one stinkin’ bit. All I remember is thinking that my parents had been lying to me my whole life. That’s a cautionary tale for you parents out there.)
But I think what bothers me about this commercial is that the person they describe in this commercial isn’t Santa, it’s Christ. Just notice the language they use–Santa is equated with love and generosity, he is the reason for childlike faith, and he lives eternally. That’s Jesus they’re talking about, not some made up fat dude in a red suit.
And that’s what bothers me about this commercial’s attempt at sentimentality. The use of the word “it” is the final nail in the coffin of Christmas time theology. We are completely divorcing all language about Christmas from its actual meaning. Hollywood desires this to be a season of “hope” and “joy” but without any sort of foundation upon which to base those sentiments.
Hope in what? Joy in what? We are a country plagued by war and immorality. Our economy is faltering and people are losing their jobs. From where are we supposed to conjure up this hope and joy? It can’t just appear out of nowhere, and it certainly isn’t going to come from Macy’s.
That is why it’s imperative that we as Christians hold on to the meaning of Christmas. And not just “in your hearts”–that’s not enough. You need to fight for it in tangible ways. Invite your neighbors and co-workers to church with you on Christmas Eve so that they can hear the Gospel. Ask your non-Christian friends what they think about the Christmas season, or what they teach their kids about it. Think of creative ways to engage people in conversation, because it’s in our faces every day.
And that in-your-face dynamic of Christmas commercialism is the key reason why we need to fight. The predominate teachings about Christmas are coming from Hollywood commercials instead of people who actually know Christ. That’s why we need to speak up and step up. Don’t just get swept up in the Christmas time craziness and let this opportunity pass you by. Use your sphere of influence to fight against the superficial messages about Christmas so that we can reclaim its true meaning, and celebrate the source of our gifts, rather than the gifts themselves.