So what the heck is the true meaning of Giftmas? Well, it’s a lot easier than the true meaning of Christmas, and certainly a lot easier than the true meaning of Moby Dick, which, according to the Cliff Notes I still have from high school, has nothing to do with a whale.
I remember being told as a child in Sunday School never to write out “Xmas” because it took the Christ out of Christmas. That makes a lot of sense. I wouldn’t want to take the meaningful words out of things that I care about and replace them with an “X.” X and Meatballs; X Me Tender; X History X. But I think too many non-religious folk are celebrating “Christmas” as a default holiday. You don’t see non-religious people celebrating Hanukkah or Kwanza. Or Good Friday. Or Pentecost Sunday. And yet, come late December, they don’t want to be left on the outside of the giving and receiving party that everyone else is invited to. So for those of us who forget to say the work-approved “Happy Holidays,” “Merry Christmas” is usually a decent bet.
Thanks to malls, Grandmas and guilt, Christmas has completely become a materialistic holiday, likely not what Jesus had intended when he was born on December 25th. Or January 6th. Or November 17th. This is fine because it’s fun. But let’s call a spade a spade. What Christmas really is is an outreach program for Christianity and Coca-Cola. First, let me explain the Coke part. See, there always was a Santa Claus – well, not always – but he’s been around for a while. But in the 1930s, Coke printed the image of the jolly fat man in the red and white suit drinking a coke and that’s become our picture of Santa Claus ever since. Probably even a better marketing tool than that whole Coca-Cola Original where they got 4 months of free advertising for their 4 new products simply by getting sued by Pepsi. And around this time of year, our image of Santa certainly pays dividends for the Coca-Cola Corporation.
Christmas is not all that different. What is really going on with Christmas is that people who have no religious affiliation, or at least no belief in the Christian faith, come out of the woodwork to participate in such a fun tradition. They’re pretending. And that’s fine because the Christians are all doing the same thing. They’ve got this awesome holiday that serves as a great marketing tool for their religion, and around that time of year, they like to think that all people wearing red and green are really Christians. It boosts their numbers, which is great for those all-important 4th quarter statistics. Just before the turn of the Fiscal year, when the boss is about to have to face a serious decline in membership numbers for his product for the year, He has a huge recruitment program which gets Him into the black just in time. So He can continue to operate within the same relative budget for the following year and won’t have to lay anyone off – which is huge because we all know what happened last time He had to lay somebody off. And just like in every job, those numbers aren’t real. They’re inflated for the sake of getting more funding and covering everyone’s ass. So now all the churches can get new organs and tetherball sets and the Pope can keep arbitrators from coming in. And as long as both sides are happy to play along for their own justifiable yet artificial reasons, Christianity will still boast 78% of the American population. And why not? Belief is a tough thing to prove or disprove even in one’s own head, which adds a degree of plausible deniability for both sides and makes it even easier to justify. But personally, just as I was told in Sunday School that you shouldn’t take the Christ out of Christmas, you also shouldn’t put it in. So a Merry Giftmas to all and to all a good night.