Thursday, December 23, 2010

Happy Holidays! Bring on the Boycotts.

As is always the case this time of year, the season is being turned into a war of ideology. Can we put up Christmas Trees in public spaces? Do you wish people a Merry Christmas, or Happy Holidays? Missions Misunderstood has some good things to say about the topic here.

In some ways, I think I would make the argument that—forced to choose one way or the other—I would err on the side of “Happy Holidays.”

The whole thing is silly really. (It is thankfully also more of an American problem than a global crisis.) It is silly because some American Christians have decided to make a wonderful time of year into a line in the sand where none should be.

People who are in a relationship with Jesus Christ want to spread that joy around. They are compelled to share what they have discovered. It should be a year-long focus, and it should be good news. Instead, some Evangelicals do little to no sharing all year long. Then, when the end of the year approaches, they go into rabid brand-pusher mode that resembles something like an annoying Apple computer user. “Christmas is just about Jesus!” “Jesus is the reason for the season!” “I will boycott your store if you wish me a Happy Holiday!”

The fact is that, while Jesus’ birthday is the primary reason we Christians celebrate this season now, it is not the only thing we enjoy, and it has not always been this way. I for one have a long list of things I enjoy about Christmas that have nothing or only little to do with Jesus: Christmas Trees, Snow, Presents, Christmas Markets, “It’s a Wonderful Life,” “A Christmas Carol,” Snoopy, lights, spiced tea, family gatherings, and nutcrackers. We have never tried to “trick” our kids into believing in Santa Claus, but we still like songs and decorations about him. (Some of the “Christian” attitudes about Santa are really “out there.” Really? A "unisex freak of Satan?")

Instead of becoming that person that everybody avoids because they are crazy, fanatical, and hard to be around, why not enjoy life and cause those around you to light up when you’re around? Wish everyone a Merry Christmas in a way that comes across as a wish and not a sermon. Wish your friends who celebrate other holidays at this time of year the appropriate wish. (I personally also celebrate Thanksgiving, New Year’s, Advent Sundays, St. Nicholas—for the chocolate—and any other holiday I can get my hands on during this—my favorite time of year.) What? You don’t have any friends different from you culturally or religiously? There’s your problem.

Some may argue that it was ideological atheists and not Christians that started this war. That may be the case, but it takes two to fight. Do we really want to respond in kind to the sort of attacks that come our way? The only thing more annoying and killjoy-ish than atheists moaning about Christmas is PETA supporters arguing that we replace cow milk with breast milk.

If you simply can’t stomach “Happy Holidays,” try “Season’s Greetings” on for size.

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