Monday, December 3, 2012

Has Christmas Jumped the Shark*?

I combine Advent with Christmas here, Advent being for many in the United States simply the pre-Christmas shopping frenzy.

Fonzie on water skis, in a scene from the Happy
 episode "Hollywood, Part Three of Three",
after literally jumping over a shark.  Wikipedia
A case can certainly be made that Christmas, at least in the West, jumped the shark a long time ago.  And I admit I’m part of it: yes, I have a Santa Claus Advent calendar - with cute little pockets where I faithfully place hard candies each year for visitors.

Hot dog and marshmallow and rubber duck creches (The 42 Worst Nativity Sets) delight me.

A Christmas Story long-ago replaced It’s a Wonderful Life as my favorite all-time Christmas movie.

I have gazillions of Santas . . . including a Santa jack-in-the-box, a couple of wind-up Santa toys, numerous Santa figurines of various sizes and my all-time favorite, a Santa who wiggles and dances to Jingle Bell Rock.  He sits on my desk.

I have strung popcorn for a 30-foot tree and prayed at the lighting of a Christmas tree in a town center, standing on a stage fit and lit for a rock star, where Santa’s entry overhead on a zip line was the main feature of the evening.

I’ve prayed at Wintertide in my own community, in a place where the nativity still stands on the court house square, but the main story-telling attraction is not of the birth of Christ, but Twas the Night Before Christmas.

Does all of this make it easier to confuse the medium for the message?  Probably.

Yet somehow, I am not troubled in the least by any of it.

I see baby Jesus in plastic Santas and silly movies . . . in creches made of hot dogs and crass commercialization . . . in Hallmark movies and in way too many presents under the tree.

I hope Jesus sees this not as the moneylenders busy at work, but as the joy-filled happy-birthday-party extravaganza the entry of God into real time evokes.  I sure hope so.  After all, this in Advent is the week of hope.

So has Christmas jumped the shark?  Is Jesus past his own sell-by date?  For my own part, I’m not worrying until someone dresses Jesus up in swim trunks and a leather jacket.

*Jump the shark:   is an idiom created by Jon Hein that is used to describe the moment in the evolution of a television show when it begins a decline in quality that is beyond recovery. The phrase is also used to refer to a particular scene, episode, or aspect of a show in which the writers use some type of "gimmick" in a desperate attempt to keep viewers' interest. . . The usage of "jump the shark" has subsequently broadened beyond television, indicating the moment in its evolution when a brand, design, or creative effort moves beyond the essential qualities that initially defined its success, beyond relevance or recovery. Wikipedia

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