A chagrined viewer writes:
Dear Dr. Phil:
According to my research, Christmas is a pagan holiday. Jesus wasn't even born on the 25th of December. Easter is another pagan holiday. Thanksgiving? Great, let's celebrate the slaughter of Native Americans. Valentine's Day is a purely sexual holiday, and Halloween is worshipping the dead. Christ would really appreciate that. I have no problem with documented holidays like Hanukkah, but these others make me sick. I get sick to my stomach when I see decorations, or have people wish me a happy this or a merry that. I wish more people would realize the truth.
Dr. Phil, can you please help my sister understand that not celebrating these holidays is my choice?
Shelita's sister, Akea, joins the discussion via telephone. "What do you think is going on here?" Dr. Phil asks her.
"I'm broke; I'm not cheap," Shelita clarifies. "If I had the money and I celebrated it, I would buy gifts."
Akea counters, "If you're so big on not celebrating it, why do you let [your daughter] come over my house to celebrate it?"
"It was one day, one time, because you asked me, and asked me and asked me," Shelita argues. "I felt bad, so I let her go that one time."
"She's coming again this Christmas," Akea says.
"You don't know that," Shelita fires back.
Addressing Shelita, Dr. Phil says, "What's your problem with holidays?"
"I did some research on these holidays, and I found out that
"That was in the 4th century!" Dr. Phil says. "Can't you let your children enjoy the festivities of the holidays, the music, the spirit of giving and family and being together?"
"Absolutely not!" Shelita replies. "To me, it's a form of Satanism. If anybody knew anything about pagans, they didn't believe in Christ, they didn't believe in God. So would you let your children go to a séance, and conjure up spirits? Of course not."
"You hate Valentine's Day!" Dr. Phil observes.
"That's another pagan holiday. It's as simple as going to your Encyclopedia Britannica, looking up Valentine's Day, and it will tell you everything," she replies. "If Christ was around, he would completely, completely disagree with all these celebrations."
Dr. Phil acknowledges that holidays acquire different meanings for different people. "They can be totally dominated by the marketing machine, and become completely commercialized, or they can be religious observances, or they can be family observances where you ritualistically get together and share time," he explains. "I don't believe that it has to be just a religious observance. I think there are a lot of different ways that we can define these for ourselves."
"But it is a religious observance," Shelita argues. "I like to say that you can't turn pus into pudding. You can't change something into a good thing because it was never intended that way."
"Yes. I think those who understand the true meaning of Christmas and continue to do it, your soul's going to be judged," Shelita says. "If you're an atheist, and you're doing it for tradition, then I'm not talking to you. I'm talking to preachers, those who have a religious responsibility to lead the people. I don't believe that they are leading the people correctly."
"I just totally, blatantly disagree," Dr. Phil says. "I would really hope that you would take a deep breath and ask yourself if there is a way for you to define some experiences for your children so that they don't miss the joy and festivity and celebration of some of these holidays. But because somebody in the 4th century defined something, does not tell me how I define it now."