darthvaderI was on the chilly but refreshing nature trail today getting in the first bike ride of December when a question arose in my mind: What does Christmas mean to me? What does Christmas mean to a guy who is more Buddhist than Christian; more outspoken than most about the negative dogma and trappings of organized religion. I had this goofy thought enter my mind about how all the top CEO’s of retail giants like Walmart and Target met as part of a secret society to focus NOT on keeping the CHRIST in Christmas but the money-making juggernaut of the Holidays season alive and prosperous. It was sort of a DaVinci Code meets the Mall with the Vatican immersed in this modern tale of big money corruption, guilt and conspiracy; further, it was the Vatican who were the good guys! Watch out Hollywood, here I come!

I read recently that the Pope had to publicly clarify that Christmas was not cancelled when a certain group of bloggers took to the internet to twist some of the meanings of “The Infancy Narratives – Jesus of Nazareth”; a new book published by the Pope last month. He makes some clarifications about Jesus and his birth year not being accurately documented in the Bible – It may be a few years off. This is common knowledge for religious scholars and those that read other books beside the Bible. According to the Pope there may not have been animals in the stable where Jesus was born. Further it might have been a cave and not a stable. I guess my neighbors lighted nativity scene is not accurate after all. Shocking revelations? Not really… I think people would be more taken back that Jesus was not born on December 25th  (Constantine made that a tradition) and that most of the Bible is depicted by the Apostle Paul who never met Jesus in the flesh. Still for me, nothing is more frustrating than a string of lights that will not light after being tested twice before hanging on the chimney with care in hopes Saint Nick is near – or something like that….

I loved Christmas as a child. I loved the twinkly little lights, the food and drink, the presents and even the music. Nothing is more beautiful than “Silent Night” sung by a church chorus. Well, maybe Celine Dion singing Silent Night – it’s a toss-up I think…  As an adult, I still enjoy Christmas but my idea of Christmas is more pagan than Christian or Catholic. For me it is a celebration of light, love and energy; a celebration of life as a prelude to New Years a week later; a beckoning of winter solstice and all that stuff.  Enter Santa Claus on a surf board, Darth Vader hanging proudly on the fake tree; Lighted flamingos and palm trees in the front yard; and yes you have Christmas at the Bader house. It is a like a bad 1960s motel in Florida… Sacrilegious?  Maybe, but I think Jesus would have gotten a kick out of my lawn ornaments – the Apostle Paul – maybe not so much…

I can totally understand how certain Christians want to put the Christ back in Christmas. Yet, it seems every cultural or religious holiday in the west has been hijacked by the retail industry – HENCE my movie plot in the first paragraph. Living month to month and having to fork over the extra cash to make this Xmas super special is stressful for many. Every heard of Holiday heart? …and what about those evil credit card bills that show up in late January?  Christians have a viable gripe but for me my complaint is more personal as my Birthday is the day after – you can argue all you want about the sanctity of Christmas but nothing sucks more than having a December 26th birthday – especially when Jesus was not even born on the 25th! I have a lawsuit pending…

Well, you survived my holiday rambling: So, the question becomes… what does Christmas mean for you?

John C. Bader