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Hankins: Christmas season should be about love

Dec. 07, 2012 @ 07:10 AM

Many years ago I had the privilege of conducting a community chorus which performed during the Christmas season. The title of the Cantata was “Christmas Is Love.”

Thanksgiving weekend I watched on television news as hordes of people flocked into mall stores to participate in what is now called “Black Friday.” Saturday was turned into a “Shop in Local Stores” day, and Nov. 26 was “Cyber Monday,”

For many folks, Thanksgiving was completely swallowed up by the flurry of advertising and emphasis on buying for Christmas. I had a difficult time finding the comics in Sunday’s paper because they were sandwiched between large, colorful advertisements.

What has all this to do with a Cantata called “Christmas Is Love?”

Lots, my friends. In all the pushing and shoving to purchase the sale items, I have a feeling not many people were giving any consideration to the meaning of Christmas. In fact, I’m sure of it.

One lady, seeing the huge line of people waiting to get into Victoria’s Secret, remarked, “They haven’t yet made the panties I’d be willing to wait in that line for.” I chuckled. Another lady complained about the lack of a price tag on a sweater. “There’s no tag on it because I wore it into the store, thank you very much!” came the retort.

Standing in the cold, pushing, shoving, grabbing for bargains — none seem in any way related to “Silent Night, Holy Night, All is calm, All is bright.” Christmas has become a commercial nightmare, where stores will do almost anything to see their balance sheets move into the black.

And, surely you’ve noticed the Christmas season starts about the middle of October, usurping Halloween and Thanksgiving. The Christmas parades used to signal the beginning of the Christmas season, but not so anymore. 

Funnier still, folks will flock to the stores the day AFTER Christmas to scarf up the leftovers — everything from tree trimmings, wrapping paper, ribbon and next year’s doodads.

Christmas used to be Love. But, apparently, no more. Unfortunately, Christmas has become a spending spree, a decorating competition, a round of seasonal partying and revelry. It’s a shame;  in the flurry, we mostly forget the reason for the season.

The reason for the season is love. Christmas is a time for recalling God’s love for humanity, remembering the time when a very special child was born who loved us so much that he was willing to give his life for us. I know it has become a cliché, but “Jesus really is the reason for the season.”

In the hubbub of parades, decorations, shopping sprees and partying, I hope we can, this Christmas, pause long enough to understand why we celebrate Christmas in the first place.
It would be a good idea for everyone to take time out, even if they are not regular church-goers, to attend a Christmas Cantata. We desperately need to be reminded that “Christmas is Love.”

Milt Hankins of Ashland, Ky., is a retired minister, theologian and freelance writer.

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