I’m a Christmas Pacifist

November 30, 2011

The Christmas season is officially upon us.

The holiday decorations are up in malls and homes.  Shoppers are out in full force, ready to bite and maim anyone who stands in their way.  And soldiers are enlisting again for the all-important annual tradition, the war on Christmas.

There’s no doubt that that the war for Christmas continues.  Bill O’Reilly may have fired the first shot in this year’s battle with an opinion segment a week before Thanksgiving.  Over the next few weeks, the good cheer of the season will be peppered with stories of oppressive governments and secular retailers and godless neighborhood associations facing off against valiant defenders of Jesus’ birthday celebration.  It’s up to the few, the proud, the Christians to save Christmas.

And as the battle heats up again, I realized that when it comes to this annual tradition, I’m a card carrying Christmas pacifist.  I might even hike to Canada this year to dodge my Christmas duty.  I just don’t care.  Let them take Christmas.

The Front Line

If you want to know how to enlist in the Christmas army, it’s pretty easy to find information.  I liked this website, the aptly named  War on Christmas.com.  Though the laughable production values are about that of a fifth grade science project, it will give you all the information you need.  For example, the opening sentence gives this battle cry:

“Preserve and protect the most beautiful of American holidays.”

In case you don’t see what I immediately saw, the site continues by calling itself:

“A place to treasure and…preserve our traditional American culture.”

That sums it up.  The war over Christmas isn’t about preserving Christmas.  It’s about Americaor what we think America should be.  When was the last time any Christmas soldier took the fight to Japan or Russia to ensure that Christmas was being properly observed in those Christmas loving places?  Never.  Because this isn’t about Christmas.  It’s about American culture.  Japan loves Christmas, even though it is one of the least Christian nations on earth.  But we don’t care about that.

The Key Battlegrounds

There’s always a couple of key battlegrounds in the War for Christmas.

Key battleground number one: “Happy Holidays” versus “Merry Christmas.”

Fact: people who care about what a retail cashier at Target says to them as they hand them the receipt are idiots.

Let’s see, why are you at Target in December?  To max out your credit card on junk you don’t need and will forget about on approximately January 2?  Exactly.  You’re shopping in the first place because you’re celebrating Christmas no differently than the secularists celebrate.  You don’t deserve a “Merry Christmas,” Satan’s minion!

And just where does the phrase “Merry Christmas” come from?  Is it even “biblical?” (To borrow a word so overused, it has lost all meaning.)  News flash: It became a popular greeting as, what else?  A greeting card slogan in 1843.  Ha!  I win again.

Key battleground number two: Christmas decorations in public.  We deal with stores putting up Christmas decorations in October now.  Clearly, people have more access than ever to gaudy, mass produced, cinnamon scented holiday “décor.”  But people go berserk if a wreath is taken off the door of a government building.

I think the key question that people are forgetting to ask in the hustle and bustle of the season is this: who the hell cares?  Was anyone ever walking around the town square in the midst of a spiritual crisis and, seeing a cheap plastic Nativity scene in front of City Hall, turned his life over to sweet baby Jesus?  It seems unlikely.

An Army of Saboteurs

Christians, you are fighting the wrong fight.  You are a bunch of saboteurs.  Christmas has ballooned to an American consumerist monstrosity that no army of atheists could kill.  And Christians have bought into all of it, while Jesus languishes in the background.  The real Christmas is being killed, in the hearts and homes of every Christian who picks a fight over petty and meaningless traditions.

Maybe God is even using the politically correct “war” on Christmas to show Christians all the things they can do without this holiday season.

But what do I know?  Tell me what you think.  Is it our holiday to protect, or did we lose control of Christmas long ago?  Are we preserving our Christian-American heritage, or are we missing the point?

This post is sponsored by Ministry Matters.

30 responses to I’m a Christmas Pacifist

  1. Hi Matt,

    Years ago I knew a prostitute who named her baby girl, Merry.

    As she explained it to me, “I named her Merry, John. You know, after Merry Christmas the mother of Jesus”.

    John

  2. We lost control (if it was ever ours to have) over Christmas long ago. I decided that after working in the mall during Christmas season back in the early 1990s.

    I celebrate Christmas because it means something to me. I have some brightly colored decorations, but they mean something to me as well – usually a connection to another person I have celebrated with. However, we have scaled back some things – gift giving especially – and changed others completely. We think more of the little boy we sponsor in Rwanda and how the Christmas season is for him and less about how many presents our American grandchildren will get.

    Every day belongs to the Lord. Whether I celebrate openly or just sit quietly in the corner, it all belongs to the Lord. Satan can try to convince us otherwise, but the truth still IS. If the retailers go out of control or they have some type of miraculous conversion, every day still belongs to the Lord. May God grant it that I show that in how I live (I don’t think I show it much now).

  3. I’m not sure that it’s even OK biblically to celebrate Christmas. Seems to me it’s a pagan holiday with a bunch of Christian “tradition” popped in and then mass-marketed for maximum sales. But I don’t really feel like fighting that fight myself.

    Many of these “Christian” organizations are really just looking for donations and they know which buttons to push to max that out with their base. How many donations do you think they would get if they screamed outrage over the fact that we as a nation borrow more than we spend? It’s bad business to do long-term and it’s not a Christian concept, this overspending. They know it’s a political fight they can’t score “points” on (look! Sears caved this year! We got Old Navy to say “Happy Christmas” in this flyer! Or whatever! Yay us!) so they’ll pick on something smaller.

    Or the sex trade. Tell ya what, I’d way rather go after the kiddie porn and slave trading people than the people who want gays to get spousal benefits if they sell me a hammer. Not that I think it’s kewl for gay people to get spousal benefits if they sell me a hammer… you know?

    I’m with you; we have so many other things to fight about besides Christmas. Have a happy one, by the way. :)

    • See I just don’t even get the “biblical” argument most of the time. And traditions are meaningless without some meaning attached to them. So just as church ritual can lose it’s meaning to some, the pagan holidays are dead and the traditions are ours to celebrate.

      • That is kind of what I meant. God is the Creator of all days. He was before the pagans ever thought about celebrating a certain day. So, as His children, the day was ours to celebrate from the beginning. There is nothing wrong with taking it back from the pagans. It was never really theirs anyway – they just believed the lie that Satan told them.

  4. First, it is an American holiday – a legal holiday – so why not have a war on changing it to something else? Get your lazy-a$$ reps to agree on canceling the 25th of December, surely Obama could get this passed.

    What is actually irksome is that we ignore the law – umm like we do for immigration and in some states, sodomy. Why can’t we get these issues on the ballot with an up or down vote? Oh, then we couldn’t complain about them, ruining the news cycle.

    I am not against anything that has to do with Christmas. I like Christmas trees, I like buying gifts, and I like eggnog. I used to enjoy the spirit of the the season in church, in stores and the general anticipation. It was part of putting a few bucks in the Salvation Army red bucket, bringing Christmas cookies to the neighbors, stringing some lights on the lamp post, the smell of a fresh cut tree, visiting the Christmas lights in the big city, going to the Nutcracker, buying gifts fort Toy for Tots and reminiscing with a few old Marines, the pageant at church, a warm fire in the living room on Christmas eve… oh and waking up to a few surprises on Christmas morning – well not the clothes.

    Now we have a cultural mixture which takes away from the traditions of all Americans. Someone always has to be outraged or offended. In the old days we just did our thing and everyone else ordered Chinese take out on December 25th. I say get your own holiday and STFU.

    Merry Christmas to all!

  5. I’m with you Elf Mom. There are other things to spend our energy on. And as far as holidays go, why don’t we pay more attention to the ones that were handed to us by God? There are many of them in the Old Testament that are there to remember the Lord and what he’s done for us. Christmas is losing that for me in the muck of consumerism.

  6. Well, Bill O’Reilly’s got to do something to keep his ratings up. Crappy political tomes aren’t going to sell themselves, you know.

    There are some folks who have no reason to get out of bed in the morning unless they’re outraged about something.

  7. Amen. I can’t get into the “save Christmas” spirit when there are so many bigger issues. Which implies that I think taking back Christmas is an issue. Which I don’t.

    I think we just want a reason to get up in arms, to feel like we’re afflicted, and this is the easiest target. It’s easier to get angry about stores saying “Happy Holidays” than it is to get angry about kids starving or little girls being sold into sexual slavery or any of the other big issues because the stores are stepping on my “rights”, affronting me personally. Those other problems belong to somebody else.

  8. I love, love, LOVE this post. (The “American culture” thing–wow. At least they realize what they’re really “defending.”

  9. What? You’ve forgotten Jesus’s command, “Go ye forth into the world and pick a fight with the heathen infidel”?

  10. I think I read somewhere that the Church put Jesus’ birthday at December to give Christians an alternative to the pagan festivals, involving yule logs and drunken revelry to celebrate winter solstice. In Christianese, it was to redeem a pagan holiday; in pagan terms, the Church corrupted a perfectly good pagan holiday.

    This year, we are waiting for most of our celebration until Christmas and the 12 days afterward (though some of them will be celebrated in school). And most of our gifts will be family time activities to do during the week my husband must take off. I am figuring out how to wrap “family time” so that we still get the joy of unwrapping presents.

    BTW, for those who do not like to say “Happy Holidays,” let me tell you that word “holiday” was created by combing the words “holy” and “day” and modifying it. So please stop whining.

    Happy Holidays!

  11. I loved this, but part of me wants to convince you to be a Christmas hawk. Not against those who want to dereligionize Christmas. But against, as you put it, the American consumerist monstrosity it has become. How do you fight it though? Well it has to be done in such a way as to not let your left hand know what your right is doing, but this silent war (for example, giving blankets or cold medicine to homeless shelters or women’s shelters or even better, volunteering, giving to the REALLY poor in the third world, etc. etc.) is not something that’s going to wage itself. We’ve actually got to change our traditions. That’s something worth fighting for – that’s a war that brings peace on earth.

    • Well said Aaron. Yesterday I saw two reports – that Black Friday broke records and half of Americans can’t “afford” Christmas. I doubt the second report. Our standards for Christmas shopping are so high that it’s become hard to keep up and think you’ve had a “good” Christmas.

  12. I totally agree that this is a “war” best left alone. If non-Christians want to celebrate with greed, overspending, and overeating, it’s only what I’d expect. Sinners sin. Why be surprised when their priorities are different from ours?

    I love that Christmas gives me a built-in reason to invite people to church, play God-honoring music around my secular friends, and talk about Jesus with my atheist dad.

    • There are in my mind two “Christmas Wars.” One is a ridiculous cultural battle to try to get people to say the word “Christmas” and to make sure that people who have other strong non-Christian religious traditions (Judaism, Islam, etc.) know whose country they’re living in >8p

      The other is a stand against consumerism and theocapitalism. This second “war,” in my opinion is worth fighting, but subtly and quietly, not in people’s faces.

      I do not mean to be judgmental against said sinners, but as salt and light in the world, it should matter to us when sinners sin. We should be interested in reversing cultural trends that lead people away from a spiritual peace only found in God. Christmas consumerism is one of those trends. I think if we change those trends, that’s a victory for the kingdom, whether people sing about Jesus or not.

      On the other hand, for the record, I think it’s great that you get to play God-honoring music and talk about Jesus at this time in a way that non-Christians are comfortable with.

    • Is it really only the non-Christians you know who are engaging in greed, overspending and overeating, Leslie? It feels like almost everyone I know (and most are believers) are engaged, at least to some degree in these activities. Black Friday (and every other day) over-consumerism nauseates me, but it’s been THE conversation at every (church and non-church) gathering I’ve attended in the past two weeks. Even more than usual, I feel like an alien.

      • Good point, Dena. We Christians are some of the worst sinners when it comes to Christmas over-indulgence – we almost equate it with a virtue, as if that’s the kind of “giving” God wanted us to do.

  13. This is one of THE best pieces I’ve ever read on this subject. (Meaning, of course, that I agree with you 100%!) Outstanding. I’m sharing this one with everyone I know.

  14. Hi Matt I am visiting after quite sometime.

    The best thing I like about Christmas is the music and family time and cold weather.

    I’ d like to get your blogposts by email. Is there a way of doing that?

  15. I pretty much agree with you 100%. And I applaud you for digging to the deeper problem. I am not a fan of arguing about what color to paint the house when the house is on fire.

  16. I don’t want to declare a war on Christmas.

    Just a war on ugly Christmas sweaters, which frankly, is a redundant term.

  17. Good post Matt. It is the Americanization of everything. I love my country but living outside of it means I see how others view this type of thing. Sad.

    I have mentioned this film on here before but What Would Jesus Buy? is a great, sad and to me, funny documentary on holiday spending. I wish I had a copy with me to watch. This is a link to the IMDB page http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0939681/

  18. justapeekartwork December 2, 2011 at 12:04 pm

    Seems I’m visiting during another Christmas blog.lol
    Great post. I’ve been saying this for years. We can celebrate how we want and I’ve never really understood the “cram it down their throats” mentality of many CHristians. No one is going to “come on board” with the angry outcries over something as stupid as how we greet each other during the Winter Festivities. Last year the Jewish community took the Christian example and screamed their was no Menorah in the State capitol. Oh my gosh…really? In the enhd of the debate, one week before Christmas, all the decorations were removed but the giant Christmas tree full of teddy bears. WOW, that was a great way to spend the season of love. If believers would spend more time loving Jesus and abide with him, worship him….well….perhaps we would actually learn to spend our time loving and forgiving and less time being offended all the time.
    By the way, aftger my long winded rant……If a checker says Happy Holidays, I bet they wish someone was off their phone actually smiling back! That’s my beef. How do Christians justify their phones being more important than the soul in front of them?

  19. I would like to add my amen!

    What if everyone stopped listening to the media and started living according to what the Bible says?