As each year marches on the grumblings of dissent grow louder about the “war” on Christmas; as the faithful grow less tolerant of the generalization of a religious holiday.
I find it all rather wasteful as far as energy spent. To argue whether or not people (particularly the government or laws) are not displaying the proper religious diligence for a federally approved religious holiday is a prime example of how appearances mean more to the average “Main Street” American than actual content.
I know I’m going to lose some folks with that one, but bear with me.
Every year Christmas gets bigger and flashier and loses all of its original intent underneath all the pomp and circumstance. Just because one puts a nativity out on their yard along with Santa and his reindeer, doesn’t mean that they are truly reverent of what this holiday is supposed to represent… any more than the folks who never darken a church doorway more than the couple of days a year (usually Easter and Christmas). What these are, are traditions. They have nothing to do with the heart of Christmas.
In a country that promises religious freedom, it *makes sense* that we (and by we I mean the federal government) incorporate all the holidays that happen to surround Christmas day – the only federally approved holiday of the bunch. To pay face value to the other holidays by using the more generic “Happy Holidays” doesn’t mean anything more than recognizing that despite with historical revisionists may tell you – the United States is not a Christian nation and, by its very own constitution, allows religious matters as something best left to the individual and their creator (or not) of choice.
Case in point. I used to work in Los Angeles, in the entertainment field. Around the last two weeks of December things pretty well dried up around town because a majority of the big wigs in that particular field happened to be Jewish. My boss, who had to maintain different cordial relationships with all the major players in Tinsel Town, had two lists for her Christmas cards. One would be the more traditional “Merry Christmas” list, for those whose faith more closely aligned with the Christian faith. The other list was a more generic “Happy Holidays” list, for those whose faiths (or lack thereof) would not be excluded by the Christ-part of Christmas.
My boss, who was brought up in the Christian faith, was actually demonstrating what I felt was the more Christian POV when it came to sending out these holiday greetings. The Jesus Christ of the Bible was not a man of exclusion. He didn’t require or demand people shared his beliefs, he simply lived them… and that was how he converted other people.
For some reason, American “Christians” have long since missed this message. They are determined to change laws that do not align with their particular faith, as if even existing in an environment that did not goose step along with their beliefs somehow invalidates the belief itself.
As long as Christmas exists in the heart of one person – and I mean the true meaning of Christmas, not this “Black Friday Spend Till You Drop Economic Driven Madhouse of Guilt and Obligation” that masquerades as modern Christmas – then Christmas exists. If Jesus is the reason for your season, then spectacular. But that same Jesus would reach out and embrace those who do not share the same view and extend that same love, mercy, tolerance and acceptance to all.
That’s the step toward his ultimate goal of “peace on earth, good will to man”.
Only in Ah-merica will we find this to be a battlefield, where conflict is encouraged and fear reigns supreme that your faith will be somehow lessened just because someone else celebrates “Happy Holidays” instead of “Merry Christmas”.
Historically there have been those who have been persecuted for their beliefs and yet held onto those beliefs anyway. They celebrated Christ – and not JUST his birth – and prayed to God when they risked their very lives to do so.
We live in a country where we are free to celebrate this holiday in whatever manner we choose. We get to sing hymns and pray and light candles and read the Bible and its story to our children without any fear of legal retribution. We even get a federal day off in recognition of this holy day, which is a lot more than some other folks get, whose celebrations (while still legally allowed) are a lot more low key.
Yet somehow, they manage to celebrate with all the sincerity and reverence they have to give. In their beliefs, a challenging position is not war, and they don’t waste a single minute of their celebration worrying how a bunch of strangers don’t give a fly about what is inherently so personal anyway.
If that is the war against Christmas, I hate to tell ya. They’re winning.
So Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays and all that implies. May you find the peace of the season in your church of choice, in your family of choice, in your life of choice and in your heart.
Government optional. (as it should be)