This is a reflection on Christmas. (Isn’t it a little late? you say. No, especially since I am reflecting on my observations of the holiday season just past, both of my own and that of others.)
It is customary and practically expected to hear and read denunciations of the commercialization and secularization of the Christmas holiday. That is not the purpose of the post. Materialism and greed are subjects that truly concern me, but others have addressed it far more ably than I could.
My own concern is that we have moved the focus of our worship away from our Heavenly Father and his Son Jesus Christ, and towards ourselves and our own family. Our obedience to commandments and participation in the rituals of the Church and Gospel are done not because of our perceived duty towards God, or the fact that he deserves the worship that we give him. Rather we undertake those activities because of what we want from him, namely to be with our families forever. While, among the pious, it is axiomatic that “Jesus = the Reason for the Season”, do we truly celebrate his advent simply by being with our family, laughing with them, and eating tons of food at the common table(lets ignore the subject of presents for now)? How much emphasis is placed on togetherness relative to our meditation on what Nephi termed the “condescension of God”?
I am not aware of how much my own observed experience comports with that of members of other faiths. I am aware that, to a certain extent, this emphasis on the family is the result of the peculiar LDS teachings on the eternity of the family unit.
I am interested to see whether others’ observations or experiences confirm or differ from the questions and concerns I posed above. Of course, even their confirmation would not conclusively establish whether such an emphasis is misplaced or wrongful in the eyes of God. I think from the scriptures one could certainly discern that the togetherness of His family is the object which our Heavenly Father desires. But can our (premature?) focus on the end harm our pursuit of the divine means of achieving it?