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Nativity scene in the Shepherd Field Chapel in Bethlehem.meunierd / Shutterstock

(LifeSiteNews) — Every year it seems Christmas™ starts earlier. When I was growing up, midnight on Thanksgiving was when the radio and shopping centers switched over to the Christmas™ season. Now, Halloween is when that happens. This is a big problem. 

While it’s no doubt true that we wait in joyful anticipation of Christ’s coming during the months before Christmas, the time leading up to December 25 should not be a time of celebration. In reality, the four weeks prior to Christmas are the Advent season. And Advent is a penitential period, a sort of mini-Lent when we’re supposed to let go of those bad habits we’ve acquired over the last year.

To use an analogy: just like any homeowner would tidy up their living room if the mayor was coming over, so, too, must we clean up our souls and rid ourselves of the attachments we have to the world in order to be ready for Christ’s arrival into our hearts at Christmas. This is what Advent allows us to do.

One way our culture tempts us to forget the real meaning of Christmas is by pushing Christmas™ movies (and music) on us 24/7. Now, before saying anything else, let me be clear that I like Bing Crosby crooning about sleigh bells and snow as much as anyone else. But what does Frosty the Snowman and Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer have to do with Christ?  

My honest opinion is that these secular mascots — which were popularized by Hollywood in the mid 20th century to commercialize Christmas — are more sinister than people think.

I mean, they, like the Easter bunny, essentially take the place of Jesus Christ as the symbols of the season, do they not? And don’t children raised on these cartoons come to identify the Christmas season with them and their stories, and not Our Lord and His story?  

Certainly, there’s a happy medium with all that (I myself watched those shows as a kid), but it seems to me these cartoons are part of a much larger, well-coordinated effort to subtly attack (or at least dull) our Christian subconscious to the point where we don’t live out the Advent season anymore.

For myself, I refuse to listen to most forms of Christmas™ music, especially before December 25th. I don’t watch half as many of the Christmas™ movies I used to as a child. I also put up my Christmas tree and decorations on Christmas day. I sometimes leave it up until February 2nd, the Feast of the Presentation of Our Lord, which is considered the traditional end of the Christmas season. Maybe I’m too strict in doing all this, but I think it honors the real meaning of Christmas far better than the imposter version of Christmas™ that our society puts forth. 

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Stephen Kokx is a journalist for LifeSiteNews. He previously worked for the Archdiocese of Chicago under the late Francis Cardinal George. A former community college instructor, Stephen has written and spoken extensively about Catholic social teaching and politics. His essays have appeared in a variety of outlets, including Catholic Family NewsCatholicVote, and Alpha News.