Grinch List #9: The “Merry Christmas” Battle
The last few Decembers I have made a Grinch List– things that I would steal from the holiday season if I could. This year I’m going to try to turn that list into something positive. Along with the reasons I am annoyed by each item, I will try to find a solution–an angle to adjust the way I feel about it in order to celebrate the season appropriately. I can’t promise I will change my mind about anything, but I can attempt to change my attitude.
It drives me nuts when people demand that others say “Merry Christmas”
Most holidays have a strange dichotomy of sacred tradition and secular appeal. Christmas probably exemplifies this strange, two-faced celebration most clearly. Some people celebrate the sacred holiday, focusing on the religious aspects of Christ’s birth and God’s salvation plan, while others embrace the secular holiday, focusing instead on family, friends, and generosity.
Here’s the tricky part—Most of us celebrate both.
I know you can spiritualize anything (I’m looking at you, candy canes), but I’m not sure that trees, lights, gift giving, over-eating, wreaths, or games of Dirty Santa have anything to do with the Savior. Even for those of us who celebrate the religious holiday of Christmas, there are certain parts of our celebration that have nothing to do with our primary cause of reflection. Even though the two have become very intertwined, we must realize that Christians and non-Christians are celebrating two very different holidays.
The last several years, I have heard many, many Christians get upset at particular retailers and broadcasting companies for using the generic term “holidays” rather “Christmas” to refer to this season, sale items, or decorations. Before you demand that they acknowledge Christmas, please remember that non-Christian organizations are not celebrating your religious holiday even when they say “Christmas”, they are celebrating the secular version of that holiday. They are not remembering your Savior’s incarnation as a human, they are thinking about meals with family, TV specials, gift exchanges, and time off work.
Now for some logic: You can’t have it both ways.
If retailers are celebrating a sacred Christmas, they are doing it in a strange way. They are doing their best to convince us that the best way to be joyful this holiday season is to give them our money. If they are celebrating Christ’s birth, they are doing it in a way that is very similar to the money changers that Jesus drove out of the temple. It should be pretty obvious that the birth of Christ is not the central cause of the joy surrounding the holiday being celebrated by most secular organizations.
If they are celebrating a secular Christmas (along with other secular holidays), they are doing it very appropriately by encouraging giving and togetherness…and taking our money.
My point is simple—By demanding that secular organizations use the term “Christmas”, we are simply muddying the message of our sacred holiday. We are demanding that they celebrate a very different holiday than the one we are supposedly defending. So the next time someone says “Happy Holidays” to me or advertises a “holiday tree” or gives me “holiday greetings” I’m going to smile and thank them then…
I’m going to remember that my cause for celebration is so much greater than temporary feasts, gifts, and gatherings with friends and family. I’m going to make sure that within my heart and my home I’m going to intentionally celebrate the birth of Christ this year and the salvation that He still brings.