Many of us bemoan the commercialization of Christmas. "Put Christ back in Christmas!" I agree wholeheartedly.
Anytime Madison Avenue sees a commercial opportunity, they're all over it. I certainly don't blame the retailers. That's what they are in business for... doing business! It's the celebrants of the Christmas season that get things all out of whack. We overspend, over stress, over eat, over party and overly regret (especially when the January bills come in.)
For our Jewish friends, the same thing happens to the Festival of Lights - Hanukkah. Originally, this celebration was to commemorate a great Jewish victory over the Greeks and the restoration of the defiled Second Temple. "Hanukkah" means "rededication" in Hebrew.
Today the eight-day celebration of Hanukkah is more often marked by lavish giving and receiving, ostentatious decorating and celebration. Partaking in the celebration becomes more important than the event being celebrated.
It is not off base to say that the commercial and social celebrations of Hanukkah are the Jewish response to the secular Christmas.
There is great joy in the celebrating of both Christmas and Hanukkah. There is nothing wrong with enjoying family and friends or in celebrating great events in our heritage.
We go wrong... way wrong... when we overlook, over-shadow or just plain forget the meaning of what we are celebrating.
Enjoy the joy. Celebrate!
Do so for the right reasons and in the right ways while keeping things in perspective.