I doubt that when Christians in the Middle Ages started exchanging small fits with each other in celebration of Christmas, they anticipated the holiday would someday grow into a celebration of excess, greed and commercialism that it has become--engulfing a second holiday (Thanksgiving) and becoming a major source of stress (and depression) in many people's lives. What was once Christmas has now become !!!!!CHRISTMAS!!!!! But what would have happened if those Christians had not decided that the Feast of Jesus's Birth (and more historically correct, the visit of the Magi bearing gifts on the Epiphany) was a good time to get each other a "few nice things".
What time would you have rolled out of bed today--and Thanksgiving day--if there was no !!!!!CHRISTMAS!!!!!? Unless you do news for the local radio station, I can guarantee it wasn't going to be 4 am, or 2 am or Midnight. No one would have been camping outside Best Buy since Tuesday to be first in line this morning. And all of those people who were flooded with unhappy shoppers yesterday, could have been at home enjoying turkey dinner and the Lions destruction of the Packers.
What would your budget look like every December if there was no !!!!!CHRISTMAS!!!!!? Would it be easier to make the full property tax payment--instead of accruing the interest to pay in installments? And what would your January, February, March and even April credit card statements look like? I bet taking that Florida trip around spring break time would be a lot easier to handle.
Without !!!!!CHRISTMAS!!!!! would you be stressed out because no store within 100 miles of Oshkosh has a PlayStation 4 in stock right now? Would you be worrying about finding time to send 85 cards to people you haven't spoken to or seen in person for 20 years? Would you be buying ingredients for dozens of high-calorie snacks when you already have plenty of food already in the kitchen?
What would your kids be like if they weren't getting so wound up about !!!!!CHRISTMAS!!!!!? Would they be starting every sentence with "I want...."? Would they be getting confused about who is the real "star" of December 25th? Would they be jumping out of bed and running downstairs at 3 am on any other Wednesday morning? And would they treat not getting the previously-mentioned PS4 as the greatest tragedy in the history of humanity?
If those early Christians had known what those first few gift-exchanges were going to bring hundreds of years later, they probably would have chosen to mark the day by just spending it in bed.