The Christmas story's deeper message

Christmas is upon us, and nobody can deny its power, even in an America that grows rapidly more secular by the year. For most, even those who practice some form of Christianity, it's primarily a time for family and the exchange of gifts (disrupted though those rituals may be during the Covid-19 pandemic). "I'll be home for Christmas," sings Bing Crosby in his sentimental croon, which plays over loudspeakers in malls across the country. Airlines boom as far-flung children make their way to that place called home, with luggage that is often filled with gifts.
It's also that time of year when some decry the commercialization of a religious holiday -- and I'm often one of them. But this has been going on a long time, reaching back especially to F. W. Woolworth in the 19th century. It was his bright idea to import tree ornaments from Europe, and the slow avalanche began. In the early 20th century, the Coca-Cola Company began to run ads of a cheerful burly Santa in the Saturday Evening Post. The first Sears Christmas Wish Book was published in 1933. By the 1950s, with the postwar economic surge underway, the all-out shopping spree began in earnest.
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