Christmas Vegans

December 17, 2008

I don’t have any problem with vegans at all – at least the ones who don’t try to make me feel bad duing my daily animal sacrfice. I like meat, and various other animal products, and I don’t feel bad about it. I feel bad for vegans who have to eat tofurky.

But I’m not here to talk about the virtues of meat or veganism. Rather, I’ve noticed that a lot of Christians are unsure of what to do with the holidays our culture celebrates. Halloween, what do we do with that? A day adopted from pagan solstice ritual that now involves little kids running around like banshees, demanding candy. Easter? the biggest Christian day of the year, except it’s been overrun with more candy (just in time for the Halloween candy to finally run out), plus the chosen day for Easter is also an adoption of pagan fertility festivals. And then there’s Christmas. Don’t even get started on that one. The blessed celebration of sweet baby Jesus’ birth sends millions of Christians into fits of inner turmoil and conflict of conscience.

I think the problem is that Christians feel guilty about participating in the worldly celebrations (which can be potentially excessive) that have come to define our holidays, especially Christmas. Who determines what is excessive? Is everything the world does excessive? This inner conflict bubbles inside them until it results in what I now call:

Christmas Vegans

By this I mean Christians who have decided to forego the modern conventions of Christmas. So little to no gift giving. Maybe don’t tell the kids about Santa, etc. It’s fine with me if you’re a Christmas vegan. My only problem is how your new-found piety makes me look in comparison! It’s like I’m about to tear into a juicy, delicious hamburger, just as some well-meaning vegan begins telling me about how he just has more compassion and thought for the poor animal, but I shouldn’t worry myself. But my appetite is already ruined. I end up feeling bad about my material ways when a Christian just casually says “Oh, we don’t give gifts. We celebrate Christmas by volunteering at a soup kitchen.”

Okay, I’ve never heard it put quite like that, but you get the idea. Like the person who casually mentions that he doesn’t own a TV. Just by saying it, I feel like it implicates me for being unintelligent, boorish, and lazy. The Christmas vegans might as well say to me, “Oh, you got an ipod for Christmas? I didn’t know you were so carnal.” They don’t mean it like that, it’s just my own brain taking it that way.

Here’s my point. I’m not hating on Christmas vegans. Celebrate or don’t celebrate however you wish. But I’m not ragging on Christmas carnivores either. It was our holiday to begin with, even if the world did invent a bunch of sweet peripheral ways to celebrate. I’m not going to stop enjoying colored lights, eggnog, and gifts just because a bunch of pagans enjoy them too. A bunch of pagans go to church on Christmas too, but I’m not going to stop doing that! Because it’s all in perspectice, and I have freedom in Christ to celebrate as I wish. There are plenty of worldly Christmas celebrations I don’t participate in. I don’t go to movies on Christmas, for one thing.

I know the relative importance each little candy cane has compared with the birth of my Savior. I just think a bunch of Christians are being too hard on themselves, overthinking things, and not enjoying life as they are allowed by God to do. I mean, are children thinking about pagan sacrifices when they dress up and go trick-or-treating? Or are they thinking about candy? Just because a day used to be important to a bunch of dead pagans, doesn’t mean it’s still important for that reason. I’m not a Jehovah’s Witness. My brother and I have great memories of childhood holidays (with all the pagan traditions) while growing up in a preacher’s home, and learning the true beauty of Christmas.

So, is your comment going to shame me for being so worldly? Are you a Christmas vegan? A carnivore? What’s your favorite ‘worldly’ part of Christmas? What part do you wish would go away? Probably everyone is going to comment that they don’t give gifts or own a TV. That would serve me right.