Credit: <br/>Jamie Ramsay

The “true meaning” of Christmas has likely been debated since the holiday was first invented. Is it a holy celebration of the birth of Christ or a capitalist cash grab? Both? Neither? Something else entirely? We’ll probably never truly get to the bottom of it.

In 1993 Patrick Griffin skirted around the issue to explore an even deeper layer of the holiday madness: “The True Meaning of Xmas.” Xmas, he says, has a weedlike vigor, making its staying power even stronger than that of Christmas. Regardless of where the abbreviation first came from, it’s going to be around forever, taking on a life and meaning of its own.

Religious sentiments must be laboriously cultivated at year’s end, but Xmas springs up out of every untended cranny, spreads everywhere, overruns everything. Including the sacred. It can’t be stamped out. It’s assailable only as an abstraction; as soon you descend to concrete details, people won’t hear a word against it. Tell us to shun “commercialization,” and we will nod like sheep. But tell us, even from the pulpit, to turn away from Santa Claus and we will be scandalized. Tell us to stop making ourselves cozy, spoiling our children, getting misty over old movies, and you will lose every one of us. Xmas may be unsanctioned, it may be unhistorical, it may be false—it may be demonically false—but it remains dear to our silly hearts.

Whether you’re choosing to celebrate Christmas or Xmas (or both or neither), you can always spend an extra moment between presents and boozy hot chocolate to contemplate the many reasons for the season.