Why Do So Many Find Christmas to Be a Depressing Time Instead of One of Joy?

Paul Tambrino, EdD, PhD

Ask Augustine with Dr. Paul Tambrino

Ask Augustine is a weekly column where professor/author Dr. Paul Tambrino discusses various theological questions with wit, clarity and substance.

Question #7 – Why Do So Many Find Christmas to Be a Depressing Time Instead of One of Joy?


I believe it is because we, in our own doing, have written this parody of Luke 2:

“And it came to pass in those days there went out a decree from the US Treasury that all America should go shopping.  (And this decree was first made when leading economic indicators dropped to their lowest.)

So all America went out to shop, each to his own local mall.

And Christian also went up from his suburban home to the city with its many malls and stores because he wanted to show that he was also of the household of prosperity; and with him was his wife who was great with economic worry.

So it was that while they were there, they found many expensive presents: pudgy faced dolls, trucks that turn into robots and a various assortment of video games.

The woman wrote checks for those they could afford and charged the rest on many different credit cards.

She wrapped the presents in bright colorful paper and laid them in the garage for there was no room for them in the closet.

And there were in the same country children keeping watch over their stockings by night.

And lo, Santa Claus came upon them and they were sore afraid.

But Santa said to them, ‘Fear not; for behold I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people who can afford this holiday.

For unto you will be given this day, in your houses (that you can’t afford), great feasts of roast beef, turkey, dressings, cakes and cookies plus many presents.

And this shall be a sign unto you: you shall find the presents wrapped in bright paper lying beneath an artificial tree adorned with tinsel, colored balls and lights.’

And suddenly there was with Santa Claus a multitude of relatives and friends, praising one another and saying, ‘Glory to you for getting me this gift which was just what I wanted.’

So it came to pass as the friends and relatives where gone away each to their own over mortgaged homes, the parents said to one another, ‘I’m sure glad that’s over. I’m too tired to clean the mess now; let us go to bed and clean up tomorrow.’

And when they had said this they remembered the statement that had been told to them by the sales people, ‘Happy Holidays.’

And so they pondered that phrase which was told to them wondering how it came to replace, “Merry Christmas.”

But the children treasured all their things in their hearts, hoarding their toys and gifts from each other.

So the parents, after another high ball, went to bed, glorifying and praising each other for the bargains they had found.”

Instead as you celebrate our Lord’s birth and read the real story as found in the second chapter of Luke, may I wish all of you a very Merry Christmas, and leave you with this paraphrasing of the popular Christmas poem:

“Twas the night before Christmas and all through the house,

Not a person was praying, not one in the house.

The Bibles were laid on the shelf without care,

In hopes that Jesus would not come there.

The children were dressed to crawl into bed,

Not once ever kneeling or bowing their heads.

While mom in her rocker with baby on lap,

Was watching Oprah, while I took a nap.

When out of the East there arose such a clatter,

I sprang to my feet to see what was the matter.

Away to the window I flew like a flash,

Tore open the shutters and threw up the sash.

When what to my wondering eyes should appear,

But angels proclaiming that Jesus was here.

With a light like the sun sending forth a bright ray

I knew in a moment that this must be the day.

The light of His face made me cover my head.

It was Jesus returning, just like He had said.

And though I possessed wisdom and wealth,

I cried when I saw Him in spite of myself.

The Book of Life, which he held in His hand

Was written the name of every saved man.

He spoke not a word as He searched for my name,

When He said ‘It’s not here’ my head hung in shame.

I fell to my knees in fear of my fate,

Knowing full well that it’s never too late,

For those who are ready to be His on this night.

Yet others were crying as He rose out of sight.

In the words of this poem, the meaning is clear,

The coming of Jesus is drawing quite near.

There is only one life and when comes the last call,

You’ll find that Bible was true after all.”

For you see, joy only comes from the real meaning of Christmas.

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