07 December 2005

Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays -- get over it!

When Amy put up a little post about people assuming that everyone is a Christian at this time of year, I just read it and moved on without comment. However, when I saw three different shows comment on the White House holiday card tonight I thought I would throw my two cents in.

In case anybody missed it, I am a Christian who works at the headquarters of an international ministry. Knowing this, you may assume that I would be upset about "Happy Holidays" replacing "Merry Christmas" as the greeting in many places like retail stores and government agencies. If so, you'd be wrong. I agree with fundamentalist Christians that Christmas stopped being about Christ a long time ago. Where we part ways is that they are trying to take the holiday back by force, whereas I don't care. Personally, I think that non-Christians are doing us a favor by not referring to this time of year as Christmas. As long as it is called Christmas, then all the crazy things that go on (like people getting trampled at Black Friday sales) will be associated with our holiday. When was the last time you heard people say that someone went into debt buying gifts for Hanukkah or Kwanzaa? Christmas is always the holiday blamed for making people stressed out because they can't keep up with their neighbors' decorating or rituals. These are all very un-Christian behaviors so why should we as Christians be in a rush to put our name on all that mess?

In my opinion, there is nothing wrong with the White House holiday card. Wishing customers or constituents "Happy Holidays" acknowledges the fact that December is really a state-sanctioned month to slack off at work and support the economy with a little extra spending. Here in the South people start putting up their lights and decorations in November, so saying "Happy Holidays" is also shorthand because we celebrate Thanksgiving/YourHolidayofChoice/New Year's Day in rapid succession. There is already a quote from the Old Testament on the card which makes it obvious what the Bush family will be celebrating in their own home. It is very welcoming of him to be inclusive with the rest of the card.

My early exposure to the Christian faith was through media from the '60s and '70s such as The Cross and the Switchblade, so I have always considered myself a bit of a hippie Christian. When I thought of Christians at the holidays, visions of people serving in soup kitchens and handing out warm coats to the needy used to spring to mind. Now all I see are pushy, self-righteous people who are more concerned with what the holiday display at City Hall looks like than with emulating Jesus whose birthday they are supposed to be celebrating.
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