America is the most populous Christian nation on earth, so it might well be asked by those of you in heathen lands how we celebrate the birth of our Lord Jesus, who was renowned for his unremitting opposition to greed, wealth, and consumerism; and his insistence on generosity, not to those who are able to be generous in return, but precisely to those who are unable to be generous in return.
First, we show our respect for the penitential season leading up to Christmas by only gaining eight to twelve pounds, which isn’t bad considering how much we weighed going into it.
On November 26 (the day after a major pig-out celebration known as Thanksgiving), we open our stores at 2:00 a.m. so the benefactors of the poor can get an early start on their Christmas gift buying at “Mark Down Prices.” Eager to take advantage of the “Early Bird Specials,” American Christians literally bring sleeping bags and stand—or rather lie—in line hours in advance. You can best understand this seemingly degrading ritual by comparing it to another revered religious practice known as self-flagellation.
The dedication of our citizenry to helping the poor is so intense in the weeks leading up to Jesus’ birthday, that there is a veritable shopping frenzy that continues until the night of Christmas Eve, when most stores close so their employees can go to church in order to be in the right frame of mind for distributing all of those colorfully wrapped packages to the poor on Christmas morning. “Ah,” you ask, “America is a rich country, is it not, so who are these poor people of whom you speak?” Well, sad to say, but America has many who lay claim to Christian Christmas generosity. They consist primarily of one’s spouse, children, parents, siblings, in-laws, friends, employer, and, of course, oneself.
When the holiday finally arrives, some impoverished children are so overwhelmed by the sheer volume of presents left by Santa, Mommy, Daddy, two grandmas, two grandpas, and assorted aunts and uncles, that they cry in frustration at opening them all. Truly, material excess requires some getting used to. Once all the poor people have gratefully received their holiday bounty, American Christians are so moved by the joy they brought into all those impoverished lives with the latest in Communist manufactured electronic gadgetry, that they just naturally want to go out bright and early on December 26, and give it another go. To help with this, the stores—which are understandably eager to support such a noble crusade—open in the wee hours yet again. This means that store employees have to miss out on time with their families in order to go to work in the middle of the night following two major holidays in a row, but they are only too happy to do it.
“Do American Christians observe Christmas in other ways?”
Oh, yes! Although buying gifts for indigent family, friends, and oneself most assuredly accounts for nearly all of the money spent, many churches do observe Christmas in other ways. For example, in most churches a colorfully robed choir sings happy holiday hymns amidst scores of potted poinsettias. A church near my house features a “living nativity” in which teenage girls and boys dress-up like angels, wise men, and shepherds, and take turns standing mutely around a manger that contains a fluorescently lit doll. Other churches “adopt” an entire poor family and drop gifts off at their house or apartment. Still others cook a turkey dinner for the indigent. And while most churches don’t meet on Christmas Day (making it one of the few birthday parties during which the guest of honor isn’t actually honored by his assembled friends), nearly all congregations listen to an Advent sermon in which they are reminded that “Jesus is the Reason for the Season” (at least since the church converted or murdered all those solstice celebrating heathens). They are also told that they really need to give up at least a little of their accustomed holiday avarice, if not this year, then next year for sure. After all, if America’s way of honoring Christ’s birth doesn’t represent the true nature and depth of its religious piety, what does?