Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of December 13, 2004
Jesus outshines Father Christmas
Bashaw's Mary Kinsella said quite excitedly, "We will be having Father Christmas at our Christmas concert instead of Santa Claus."
It instantly intrigued me. I must admit it is the first time that I heard of this Christmas personality. Aside from the Child Jesus, the Virgin Mary, St. Joseph and the angels, Santa Claus is one Christmas personality that most of us grew up with.
But Father Christmas? Who is he? And why not Mother Christmas?
Although the reason she gave me for leaving Santa Claus out of their concert was not necessarily of a religious nature, it was still something to think about.
What first came to mind was how Father Christmas would look. Would he be wearing a white garb that resembles a snowscape? Would he wear stars? Would he have a crown and cape?
Ms. Kinsella did not elaborate on how the Father Christmas of their concert would look. She just said he would look really grand with a wide red cape.
After I had spoken with her, the question of how this Christmas personality would look lingered in my mind.
As the day wore on and I still hadn't created a mental picture of this personality, my questioning went deeper.
Why do we like personifying values, ideas and concepts? Do we indulge in that activity because we more easily relate to persons than to vague concepts and non-physical realities? That is not to say that Christmas is such a vague concept or totally beyond physical reality. In fact it is the opposite, although different people have different understandings of what Christmas is about.
For some Christmas is about giving. It is about sharing one's bounty, blessings and wealth. For others it is about spending time with people who are in pain because they are missing a loved one who has passed on. Still for some it is simply about being nice and extending a hand to the less fortunate by donating items like food and clothing.
But for Christians, Christmas is more than that.
Christmas is the time that we celebrate and reflect on the abundant love of God, who became human. When we say God becoming human, we do not mean pretending to be human. We mean, God becoming flesh and sharing our humanity so that we can share God's divinity.
As a child, I experienced Christmas in moments of complete awe that God would be born in this world. It was mind-boggling and it still is.
But in our society today, Christmas has swerved into something other than the holy celebration of the birth of our Saviour. It has become commercialized. It has come to mean shopping and thinking of the menu for the big festivities we throw with families and friends.
Of course these are all trimmings of the real reason why in every nook and cranny of the world this time of the year is observed and celebrated.
Christmas is universal. Even in the predominantly non-Christian countries this day is celebrated by those who believe and have faith in Jesus Christ. Christmas is embedded deeply in the consciousness of humanity.
What is ironic is we try to find different personalities that would epitomize what Christmas is all about. And in doing that, it escapes our consciousness that we need not find more Christmas personalities to have a meaningful celebration.
The best personality and the most appropriate focus of the season is none other than Jesus himself.
So who is the guest of honour at your Christmas banquet?
Copyright © 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009 -- Western Catholic Reporter
Our mission: To serve our readers by bringing the Gospel to bear on current issues in the Church and in secular culture through accurate news coverage and reflective commentary.