Alright. I confess. I’m not worried at all about losing the term “Christmas.” I’m also not concerned by Xs in place of Christ. The X is a cross. That reminds me of Christ. Maybe it doesn’t remind others of Christ, but that’s their prerogative. Why should I need anyone’s participation in my decision to be Christ-centered on Christmas? If you’re a stickler for keeping religion in your festivities, great! But “Holy-day” celebrations are still pretty sacred, aren’t they? And even so, you don’t hear anyone going out to get a “holiday tree” or forgetting what day it is when we open all the presents.
That’s right: Christmas with a capital Christ. I think it’s here to stay. So instead of Christians getting all bent out of shape by the ACLU and freaky fringe types, I want to remember there are big cultural problems involved in the fight for Christmas as well–such as losing our cultural identity through neglect and plain ignorance. Sure, sweeping Christ under the rug at Christmas is a fairly time-honored tradition in this country. But our tendency to lump all the holidays together and wish people happiness in all of them may be less about avoiding Christ than a preference for efficiency and inclusiveness. That’s an American sort of thing to do, and frankly, I’m starting to wonder if some Christians really understand that at all. Do Christians really think Jesus is offended at people who don’t want to say his name? There’s solidarity with the past and our fellow man in wishing people “Happy Holidays.” And if I care about making sure someone remembers Christ on Christmas, I’ll invite them over for egg-nog and cookies. There’s no call for being antagonistic about Christmas. Honestly, it looks bad when Christians whine about the ACLU and validate their bigotry, only to wind up making ourselves out to be the bigots when we wish someone a Merry CHRIST-mas!
This “keep-the-Christ-in-Christmas” campaign got me thinking about signing off Christmas entirely. Wouldn’t it be more socially conscious to take a complete and total break from consumerism—government, media, business, technology, economy, taxonomy, whatever? No television, movies, computers, cell phones, iPhones, or video games. Farm-grown trees and basic Christmas dinner, homemade decorations and gifts. I imagine my brother and sister-in-law getting our girls Disney princesses and Polly Pockets as we smile and nod and hand over their crocheted scarves and homemade preserves wrapped in banana leaves…
But there’s another thing that’s here to stay: the great muddy melting pot. Americans are Americans because we’re a mish-mash of cultures and traditions. Does anyone else wonder why we wait for the stuffing to go bad before hunting down a tree farm that isn’t charging $95 to bring home poison oak and a family of wolf spiders? You do? Well, Merry Christmas, American!
These days, I think we’re all doing well just to remember Turkey-and-Football-Day when the retailers have convinced everyone on the block to start putting up their Christmas lights the day after Halloween. In America, our holiday traditions are alive and well. Right here is where the tradition started of using New Year’s to celebrate starting over right before the credit bill for Christmas comes. This year, I want to remember that the holidays (i.e. “holy-days”) are wonderful, messed-up, formerly-pagan-Catholic-redeemed celebrations-of-family-traditions as varied as the snowflakes. And even in a mish-mash, there’s a camaraderie if you’re willing to embrace it.
So “Merry Christmas, you ol’ Savings and Loan!” And this year, as we watch the Christmas Day parade floats, let’s do our best not to try to explain all our varied traditions and just enjoy the spectacle of pop singers, flowers, ostriches, surfers, menorahs, African tribal dancers, and babies dancing in top hats on the monstrous floats. It’s just an American thing.