The Real War On Christmas
Every time I hear Tucker Carlson palavering on and on about the supposed “War on Christmas”, I can’t help conjuring a mental image of Jesus and Santa, armed to the teeth, fighting off mobs of liberals with a cigarillo pressed between their lips as they empty a pocketful of shells into some bitches who had the temerity to say, “Seasons Greetings” to them. But as preposterous as that dystopian scene might seem on the face of it, I am pretty sure that a rendering of that exact nightmare has replaced the Nativity Scene in more than one Jacksonville, Florida front yard. Somehow a season that was supposed to be a celebration of the common bond of universal brotherhood has been tainted by the acrimony between those who want to put the “Christ” back in Christmas and those who feel that doing so inherently leads to religious exclusion and persecution. And somehow lost in all this squabbling is the sense that both sides seem to have missed the whole point of the holiday entirely.
Years ago when I was still a fledgling educator travelling back from a late-October backpacking trip with a group of students, one of them started playing Christmas songs a bit too early in the season and with way too much enthusiasm. Some of the group took exception to the musical selection based upon the fact that we were still two months to December. Others hummed along agreeably. But Aaron, the lone Jewish student on that trip, became immediately outraged. He yelled to have the music turned off, saying that it was an insult to him and his religious beliefs. But how? How is it that we have come to see the celebration of one person’s faith and traditions is somehow a diminishment of our own? Can’t we create a space to recognize and commemorate all of our various backgrounds?
I can tell you right now that I do not consider myself a Christian in the sense of ascribing to the notion of Jesus as Savior or the direct Son of God, or at least no more so than you or I are. But I also don’t get my panties in a bunch when people wish me a Merry Christmas. Nor do I begrudge the Nativity Scene in my neighbour’s yard. That’s because I can appreciate the inspiring values of unconditional love and charity that Christ himself stood for, perhaps more so than many of those purported Christians who insist on everyone else saying “Merry Christmas” too. Regardless of whether you or not you resonate with the religious implications of the holiday, all of us can connect with the message of a shared humanity and universal brotherhood, regardless of who may have delivered it. So whether Jesus was the son of God or just a sandal-wearing hippie who smoked some really good weed, the spirit that lies behind Christmas transcends the differences of our various religious perspectives.
But of course that is not enough for the “War on Christmas” crowd. Instead of turning the other cheek on those who might not share their religious zealotry, they want to bitch-slap anyone who refuses to join them in wishing folks a “Merry Christmas”. Ignoring the essential elements of what Christ himself stood for and taught, they angrily attack those who simply want to be mindful of making sure all feel included in the celebration. The last time I checked, Christ said to love all of our fellow brothers and sisters, not just those who say, “Merry Fucking Christmas”. The message of Christ’s birth and eventual salvation is one of love and tolerance for all, not just everybody except for all the damn liberals. The Christmas spirit is about embracing even those we disagree with, and it is embodied more with the charity and good will we show to others than in the greeting we may or may not use towards them.
That’s where the real war on Christmas is taking place. It is not in the words we use to express our greetings. It is not in the horribly ostentatious holiday displays in our front yards. It is not in what Starbucks puts on their coffee cups or the pictures that kindergarten teachers put up in their rooms. It is in the hearts and minds of a divided community that should use the observance of all the various religious backgrounds as a rallying point for bringing people together rather than driving them farther apart.
So wish me a “Happy Holidays”. Wish me a “Merry Christmas”. Wish me a “Happy Hanukkah and a Really Rad Ramadan” for all I care. Just be sure to mean it.
And in that spirit, TRUTH: In 1000 Words or Less will be on break for the next two weeks in observance of the holiday season. We will be back with our annual New Year’s list of Resolutions I am Sure Not to Keep on January 4th. Happy Holidays to All!
Steven Craig is the author of the best-selling novel WAITING FOR TODAY, as well as numerous published poems, short stories, and dramatic works. Read his blog TRUTH: In 1000 Words or Less every THURSDAY at www.waitingfortoday.com