It’s that time of year – twinkling lights, carols, letters to Santa, nativity scenes, Christmas cookies, parties, reindeer – it all adds up to Christmas in America. A time of year that many of us look forward to and enjoy for myriad reasons.
But as sure as the stockings are hung, the Christmas Scrooge’s make their appearance. About the time we begin to feel just a little bit of the holiday glow, they’re right there to squash it with their demands that we must celebrate the Christmas holiday the “right” way, which is to say, their way.
We did some traveling this week to welcome a new granddaughter into the world…Yes, it is pretty awesome to hold a newborn. While visiting, an experience in the local grocery store pretty much summarized the ridiculousness of the whole Christmas wars thing. A pleasant lady ahead of us in line had admired a floral arrangement in our cart. After a few seconds of conversation, she wished us a “Happy Holidays” and turned to get her change from the cashier, who then said, “Well, I say Merry Christmas,” in a grumpy, chastising tone. The pleasant lady acting flustered and embarrassed, muttered, “Well I normally do also,” grabbed her groceries and scurried out of the store.
And the Christmas wars are on.
Christians celebrate Christmas as the birth of Jesus Christ, recognized by them as the Son of God and Savior. Millions of Americans celebrate a Christmas that has little or no religious significance for them. Yet it remains a season of love and caring for friends, family and our fellow man.
There are also millions of Americans who do not celebrate Christmas of any kind. Followers of Buddhism, Islam, Judaism and Hinduism, atheists and others do not celebrate Christmas or choose to celebrate a non-religious Christmas.
Yet, each year the controversy arises about how to celebrate Christmas. And there are always some bold enough to tell us all what the right way to do that is, especially if it helps their ratings or book sales.
This year the war kicked off with the Starbucks cup. Each year, Starbucks uses a specially designed cup during the holidays. In the past, they’ve put reindeer, snowflakes or ornaments on the cup. This year, they had the audacity to put just their logo on a solid red cup. Someone found that offensive and social media went crazy. Somehow that red cup became a rallying cry to those who needed a lever to bring back the “Merry Christmas” vs. “Happy Holidays” greeting war. Considering Starbucks previous holiday cups featured snowflakes and wreaths, decidedly non-religious symbols, the whole thing was just ridiculous.
During the season that Christians celebrate the birth of the Prince of peace and goodwill, we get a rancorous debate, by supposed Christians warriors demanding that we force feed a Christian celebration on everyone in our schools, our communities, our public spaces.
The anger the “warriors” spew is decidedly un-Christ-like and does more to harm the cause of Christianity than any “Happy Holiday” ever could.
Fortunately, there are also many Christians who try to live by the tenets of Christianity, the ones that call for acceptance and love of others, forgiveness and hope.
Try to ignore the warriors who would ruin your celebration of Christmas, whatever type of celebration you choose. Christmas is not under attack. It’s doing very well. There is no law against saying “Merry Christmas!” Never was. If a store chooses to be as inclusive as possible and asks employees to say, “Happy Holidays!” instead of “Merry Christmas!” so what? You can use whatever greeting you want.
If a public school hosts a Winter Play instead of a Nativity Pageant, it’s a sign that they are serving children from a variety of backgrounds and trying to include everyone, a goal one would hope all public schools would share. If you want a Nativity Pageant, help your church to hold one.
If a public entity allows a religious display on public grounds, they must also allow displays from other groups. In other words, Christian displays don’t get prime rights to public spaces. This really upsets the warriors.
While there is a tendency to wax nostalgic about how everything was better back in the day and nobody had to deal with all this liberal b.s. about including everyone, it helps to know that those good old days were not so good for everyone. Ask any Jewish or Muslim friend who was forced to sing Christmas carols. If you don’t think those kids existed, you are fooling yourself or you don’t have any non-Christian friends.
What would our community, our world look like if, instead of fighting this war, all those warriors focused on following the tenets of the faith they claim to believe in. Treat others with respect. Share God’s love with each other in ways that can’t be wrapped in a bow. Use your gifts to help those in need. Feed the hungry.
Christmas could change the world, if only we let it.