It’s time to flood the internet with pictures and articles about keeping Christ in Christmas and suggested boycotts of businesses that don’t openly advertise Christmas and choose some alternative holiday greeting or none at all. It’s time to put these people in their place and let them know that no matter how well intentioned or hospitable they are trying to be, it isn’t good enough and unless they’re all willing to promote the religious idea of what this season is all about, they should just shut up – at least they should be prepared, in the midst of a busy shopping season and likely long line up, to put back everything I have brought to the till and then refused to buy because their friendly-other-than-Merry-Christmas greeting offended me.
If you read that paragraph and didn’t immediately assume it was tongue-in-cheek, then you either agree with what I said or you are gravely offended. If you agree, then perhaps you might stay home and keep your not-very-Christ-like words and actions away from places where I will be trying to find a bit of cheer this year when everything about Christmas breaks my heart. If you were offended, I assure you, it was a sarcastic interpretation of what I see as an unreasonable attitude at a time of year when people are spouting off about good cheer and asking why we can’t love each other all year long.
So because I see this stuff so often and because my rambling was sparked this morning when I heard about some ridiculous attempt to blame Starbucks for waging a war on Christmas by having a paper cup that is simply all red this year – instead of the ones from previous years with the oh-so-religious snowflakes, deer, and snowmen that apparently didn’t upset the Christian world at all – I decided to share some of the things I wonder about when I see and hear the passionate invitations to be “politically incorrect” by saying “Merry Christmas.”
I am a Christian. That doesn’t mean I’m perfect, that I know everything about what Christ wants, or that I never fall into complacency myself when it comes to living a Christian life. It doesn’t give me the right to judge what’s inside anyone’s heart (yes, objective judgment of obvious outward actions is different than the judgment of intentions and the two often cross paths in our minds so we have to be careful). It does mean that I celebrate Christmas and not another winter holiday, but it doesn’t mean I have the right to tarnish the season I value by criticizing and arguing about which words people use to wish me a happy anything.
I say “Merry Christmas” because it’s the greeting that means the most to me. The season and the holiday have always been Christmas for me and much of that is due to my Christian upbringing. I don’t say it to make a point, to be politically incorrect, or to correct others who have wished me something else. To do so would, for me, become a matter of debate rather than a moment of sharing joy.
I wonder if the keep-Christ-in-Christmas advocates ever go to church, even just at Christmas? And if they do go to church on this one day, why do they? Isn’t Christ there all year? I’m not saying they have to, but I wonder what it means to them to keep Christ in anything beyond a cliche during this season? Is their Christmas different than mine? Is it different than that of the family down the street who doesn’t really know about God but has a celebration with turkey and presents and hugs and kisses, a family who does their best all year to be good people and love others? And I wonder just how much any of our Christmases resemble anything Christ would want to be “kept in” with the overspending, overeating, and drinking to excess that often accompany the season, even for Christians!
I wonder why I don’t see any other keep-Christ-in-such-and-such promotions throughout the rest of the year when issues come up that my own understanding tells me Christ would care about. I wonder where the passion is when morality and justice are compromised on a daily basis in our society, how Christ feels about this, and if He is perhaps much more concerned about these things than He is about Christmas.
I wonder what these people mean when they say “Merry Christmas”. Is it any more than the automatic greetings and responses I hear when people say “Hi, how are you?” and I answer “Fine thanks, how are you?” and then after hearing they are fine as well we both move on to the bakery aisle? Does it mean more than that and if so, what does it mean when they say it? I wonder if anyone really thinks about what they mean, or if they are just adamant about using those particular words.
The fact that I wonder about these things should make it clear to anyone who has kept reading this far that I’m not judging or putting myself above anyone else. I am wondering because I really don’t get it. I’m all for fighting a battle I believe in and doing so passionately, but I have to know what I’m doing, why I’m doing it, and what end result I’m looking for, and I just don’t believe that being negative towards others who use different words to wish me happiness at Christmas time is a battle I can throw myself into.
So I wonder what it is that drives those who use a like and share strategy to spread the message that they choose to be “politically incorrect” and say “Merry Christmas.” I wonder if perhaps making the point of being politically incorrect isn’t quite as important as wishing someone joy, happiness, and blessings and doing so without any agenda to educate or correct. I wonder if it would be more effective to like and share things that actually show others HOW you are keeping Christ in Christmas.
For the cashier at the busy till a keep-Christ-in-Christmas advocate might be the only Christian they meet that day. So as Christians, that’s the moment we get: one moment to witness our desire to be Christ-like and share Him with others – if that’s what we truly desire by jumping on the “Merry Christmas only” bandwagon – and how are we going to use it?
I wonder if it’s better to leave the cashier – who might not even believe in God – with a memory of a kind and friendly person in the midst of their very busy day who received their Happy Holidays wish in a spirit of good will, than a memory of a customer who was frustrated, rude or angry and left a bunch of items on the counter to make it clear that KEEPING Christ in Christmas was their most important goal, while they neglected to SHARE Christ.
It can be argued that because governments and businesses have chosen to respect a diversity of beliefs that we are losing our Christian heritage and celebrations. I don’t deny that and it continues to happen in various ways all year long. I do believe it’s important to stand up for what we believe and to be able to explain why we believe it.
I just wonder if making such a big deal out of greetings at Christmas time actually furthers the cause or if it just becomes a big distraction from the love and kindness Christ wants us to share with others and, by doing so, pleases the evil force at work who, according to C.S. Lewis in his book “The Screwtape Letters”, presents the idea that the devil isn’t out to bring us all over to his side. Rather he merely seeks to distract us from God because that itself is enough.
I wonder …