Happy Christmas

Normally, I steer clear of religion altogether, because it’s such a touchy subject for so many people. I’m of the opinion that religion is a very personal matter, and whatever you believe, it’s between you and your God(s) of choice, and far be it for any person to tell you otherwise. Historically, too much blood has been shed over religion and in the name of religion, and the one factor that remains the same is that everyone continues believing and interpreting their faith as they see fit.

Whatever your faith beliefs may be, all I can do is speak about how religion affects me. The sanest approach I’ve found is to recognize that while it is a part of my life, that may not be the case for most of the planet. Kind of like reading, I assume that most people learn how to read and have preferences with regards to it, but if you happen to be a fan of sci-fi horror murder mysteries, that’s awesome up until the point you start ranting and saying my choice in literature is terrible and I should only read sci-fi horror murder mysteries. The problem in that scenario is one of a lack of respect, and society functions smoothly (and probably would function a lot smoother, but that’s another point of conjecture) when people treat each other with a bare minimum of respect. Well, I like to think it’s respect, but it may just be that for the majority of people, it’s apathy, because most people likely don’t care about the lives of the people they pass by in social interactions daily.

A Nativity scene, found here.

Earlier this week, as I was crossing the street, a stranger wished me “Happy Christmas” and I wished them a Merry Christmas, too. While it felt nice that someone I didn’t know would be so swept up with holiday cheer that they would want to share it with me, there’s no way he could have known how I feel about Christmas. What if I was Jewish? What if I was atheist? I could have been anything, and I could have been a grinch and said “Hey guy, I don’t celebrate Christmas!” and started some street fight over it. I could have, but I didn’t because like I mentioned, society functions best when we’re all making the minute effort to play nice and get along with each other.

The Virgen. Photo found here.
So when people complain about the holiday season and it’s commercialism and how they feel like it’s thrust upon them, I get it. It’s taking something that ought to be a personal matter and flinging it in public display, and the religious aspect is forgotten and that bothers me, since the whole point of the holiday as a Catholic* is the birth of Jesus. Well, that plus the whole apparition of La Virgin de Guadalupe, which is something I feel like I have to accept as a part of me because regardless of where I go and what I do in the world, I am culturally Mexican-American**. Regardless, despite of all of the religious festivities that go on around this time of year, and much as I like them and seeing the houses decorated and everything else that this season entails it feels like Cinco de Mayo.

Yes, Cinco de Mayo is a real holiday, but it’s not Mexican Independence Day as anyone who knows anything about it will tell you. It bothers me because it’s become a commercialized holiday and excuse for people to drink, kind of like St. Patrick’s Day, too. I’m sure I sound like a ton of fun, raining on everyone’s parade, but knowledge and information are important to me. In my perfect world, people would celebrate holidays because they knew the meaning and history behind them, because the history behind them is beautiful and does merit celebrating. Just not drunken mindless celebrating.

*Note: I consider myself a practicing Catholic. 
**Note: I consider myself culturally Mexican-American. 
At some point, I will have to devote separate posts to what it means to be a member of both of the aforementioned groups.

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