Thursday, December 26, 2013

The War against Boxing Day

Today is Boxing Day.  It’s doesn’t involve gloves, rings or a round that start and end with a bell.  According to Wikipedia it is “traditionally the day following Christmas Day when servants and tradesmen would receive gifts from their bosses or employers, known as a ‘Christmas box.’ … It is believed to be in reference to the Alms Box placed in places of worship in order to collect donations to the poor. … This custom is linked to an older English tradition: since they would have to wait on their masters on Christmas Day, the servants of the wealthy were allowed the next day to visit their families. The employers would give each servant a box to take home containing gifts and bonuses, and sometimes leftover food.”  In modern day America the day is mostly when people flock to the malls to return or exchange gifts received.
Over the past several weeks the media has feasted on “The War Against Christmas.”  It is a notion perpetuated by a handful of colorful personalities who claim that the “politically correct” are out to take the “Christ” out of “Christmas ” – or something like that.  Throw in claims of Santa being of one race, creed or color and it’s been a cornucopia of nonsense.  Way back in 2005 Congress even voted on it:  “The House ‘strongly disapproves of attempts to ban references to Christmas’ and supports Christmas symbols and traditions.“  Christmas now represents two different things.
There is the commercial, Santa-driven, economic Christmas that uses nostalgia, tradition as a way to mark the occasion.  It drives a huge part of the global economy.  You don’t have to be of a particular religious denomination to participate in holiday parties, “Secret Santa’s” and other such festivities.
Then there’s the Christian, religious observation of Christ’s birth, preceded by Advent – a 4 Sunday period of contemplation before the “coming” of Jesus, and followed by Christmastide – more commonly known as the 12 Days of Christmas – from Christmas to the Epiphany. 
Of course while there are two focuses – they are not mutually exclusive. 
And there is no war on Christmas.  There’s no bloodshed, combat or pain like in a real war.  It's more of  a disagreement about how much prominence one definition should have over another.  Where there has been a total deterioration of tradition, however, is in the spirit behind Boxing Day…of taking care of those who take care of us.

The service class today is not Downton Abbey-esque.  Today it is made up of professionals in a range of sectors – from restaurants and hospitality to support staff in offices to health care workers.  At a time when we debate how sacred to make a holiday – let’s take a moment to acknowledge those who help us.  Thanks to all who give of yourselves to others. 

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