I love Christmas. Out of all the holidays of the year, I’d say it’s my favorite of them all. There’s something about the feel of the season that I can’t quite find words for that make the season simply magical to me. I’m not sure whether it’s the childlike anticipation of Christmas morning, the beautiful decorations, smells and tastes of the season, but whatever it is – it’s a beautiful thing. The beauty of the season is evidenced by the displays of lights, trees and various decorations that are on display everywhere in anticipation of the big day. Even more importantly, for me anyway, is the fact that this is the time those of us who are Christians celebrate the birth of the Christ child in the manger.
Lately however, my facebook newsfeed has been all aflutter with news of a war on Christmas. Say what??? How could anyone want to declare war on the most wonderful time of the year? Well, dear friends, it seems there has been a movement of some kind claiming that wishing someone “happy holidays” or “merry Xmas” or other such blasphemy is an attempt by some evil force to vanquish the baby Jesus to some orphanage in Romania where they beat children everyday, never to be heard from again. Evidently, this war has been raging for some years now, but since I never watch the news unless I’m on it (which rarely, if ever, happens), I’m a little late in hearing about it.
To hear someone who believes Christmas is being attacked explain it, this movement is so evil that it makes the Grinch look like the Virgin Mary. When asked, they tell me that people are being forced to say “happy holidays” in order not to offend anyone with such vulgarities as the word Christmas, and writing “Xmas” so they wouldn’t offend anyone with the word Christmas, because, after all, they are “X-ing out Christ from the season.”
Well, after staring at the person who explained this to me with my mouth open in disbelief for at least ten minutes, I got to thinking about all this “war on Christmas” mumbo-jumbo. I asked them what, if anything, one was supposed to do when attacked by someone who was evil enough to wish you a happy holiday. Their response was, without taking a second to consider the irony in my question, “You tell them it’s Merry Christmas, not Happy Holidays!”
I don’t know about you, dear friends, but it’s hard for me to see this as an attack on Christmas, or my beliefs. Maybe it’s just my upbringing, but to me, “happy holidays” doesn’t seem like an attack at all, but a simple wish of good cheer. After all, there’s more than just Christmas at this time of year. Don’t forget that there’s also New Years, Boxing Day, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Epiphany, as well as other holidays in there during this season. To me, saying “happy holidays” is just a form of wishing another person a joyous whatever-you’re-celebrating type of greeting in an attempt to be polite. In which case, I firmly believe you should respond with a simple “thank you, and a merry/happy [insert polite greeting here] to you as well” without getting your undies all in a twist about someone being friendly.
The other big affront to those who believe in this war on Christmas is the issue of people writing “Xmas” instead of spelling out “Christmas.” I honestly had someone tell me “they do this ’cause they want to X out Christ from Christmas.” Seriously? I was so appalled at this level of ignorance that I rolled my eyes so hard my head hurt. I tried to explain to them that wasn’t the case, and that the “X” was originally the Greek letter “Chi,” which looks like the English letter “X,” and that it was the written symbol used for Christ waaaayyyy back in the day, so actually, it was technically still keeping “Christ” in Christmas. Unfortunately, they didn’t want to hear any of my explanation, and continued to believe in their erroneous ideology. Oh well, you win some, you lose some.
The whole “keep Christ in Christmas,” and the “Jesus is the reason for the season” campaigns are nice enough ideas, but let’s not forget that, historically, most of the Christmas celebrations we know today were around before Christmas started being celebrated as the birth of Christ. The early Christians didn’t even celebrate Christs birth until around the year 388 when John Chrysostom decided it would be a lot of fun to throw Jesus a birthday bash and, since everyone was in a good mood to party anyway, why not have it around the Saturnalia/Winter Solstice celebrations around December 25th? It caught on, and everyone’s been celebrating since then.
So it seems a bit odd to me to hear people say there’s a war on Christmas simply because people celebrate the season a little differently than someone else. Sure, there might be controversies about nativity scenes being erected at courthouses and various other places, but let’s keep in mind that these aren’t religious institutions, so to cater to one religion over another in a public place is inviting controversy that’s simply unwarranted. Feel free, however, to put a nativity scene in your own yard. I’m sure it’ll be beautiful.
Next time you’re out and about and someone wishes you a “happy holidays,” be polite. In a warm, thankful tone, say “thank you, and to you as well.” At least they took the time to greet you and pass along their wishes for you to have a nice holiday season, regardless of what you’re celebrating.
Or, you can forget everything I’ve said and cause a scene, screaming at the top of your lungs, “It’s not happy holidays, you heathen, it’s Merry Christmas!” and beat them over the head with a giant candy cane. I’m sure Jesus would be soooooo proud.