Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Merry Christmas!

There. I said it. No “Happy Holiday.” No “Wish you a Joyful Christmas.” No, “Enjoy HanChrisZaa.”

I grew up in a Baptist church. I’m so old, I remember celebrating Halloween in which we dressed up as ghosts, pirates and cowboys (pointedly no devils or witches, of course) and actually went to the church for a Halloween Party. Gasp!

Over time, as a Christian, I chuckled how we got caught up in the “evilness” of Halloween. How we should study its pagan origin, and learn that it started with Satan worshippers drinking the blood of Saints. How we were promoting Satan’s Kingdom by daring to put on a sheet and ask for a Hershey’s (c).

Halloween parties disappeared and “Harvest Parties” appeared. Dressing up faded with games and trampolines and gadgets coming into play. Gone were the scary movies, such as “Friday the 13th.” No, we watched “Left Behind” instead.

I thought, how funny it was as a Christian, that we were doing the same things, only with a “Christian” tint. Satan had so much power, that we had to concede the day to him, and hope our alternatives would draw in the few remaining hold-outs against this pernicious growing menace.

Now, I see the same thing happening with Christmas. Only in the reverse. Is the secular community becoming outraged at a greeter in a retail store daring to have the audacity to say “Merry Christmas.” Really? Are there people out there, crushing into Macy’s (c) in order to save $5 on some sweater who are aghast to hear “Merry Christmas”? Do they take their business to another store, in order that their ears will not be assaulted with a particular set of syllables?

Yes, I am fully aware that Christmas has a pagan origin. Yes, I understand that Christians have chosen that holiday to celebrate the birth of Christ. Ironically, the Birth of Jesus having far out-paced any celebration for the more important claim of Resurrection of Jesus. I understand the morphing and molding of the pagan with the holy. Christmas trees in churches. Gift-giving and stockings of more import than the Nativity scenes.

How many times have we heard the cry, “Put ‘Christ’ back in Christmas”? Because, Christians, too, understand the lessening acknowledgment of Jesus’ involvement, on the way to the movie theatre to watch “Santa Clause 4.”

Look at the Christmas specials we watch on T.V. in December. “Rudolph.” “Frosty.” “The Grinch.” “A Wonderful Life.” “A Christmas Carol.” About the closest Christian theme left is Linus’ speech in “A Charlie Brown Christmas.”

We now live in a world that intermingles Wise Men and Elves with little thought for the incongruity. Much of me…nuts…ALL of me says, “Deal with it.” Enjoy it! Christmas has become a holiday that has a little Jesus, a little Santa, a little family, a little friends, a little gifts, a lot of food, and a time in which people that cannot crack a smile for 11 months of the year actually place dollars in Red Buckets.

For Christians—say “Merry Christmas.” For others, say “Happy ______” whatever floats your boat. Does it really make a significance as to which phrase pops out?

Now—I am probably going to get into real trouble with this one. I know I am a secular humanist. I understand the implications and value of separation of Church and State. I get that I should be outraged at a Nativity Scene outside a City Hall.

I’m not.

It doesn’t bother me in the least.

Perhaps some atheist will appear and take me to task—changing my mind as to the depth and breadth of the violation a manger and a plastic baby have when sitting in front of a governmental building.

There are people that find a Nativity Scene as much a part of Christmas as twinkling lights, and sleighs. When we complain about it appearing on the courthouse steps, do we really think this causes people to pause and say, “Yeah, I could see how offensive a Crèche would be”? Or is it far more likely that they become enflamed—defending what to them is an important part of this holiday.

Has there been a single person who has their life changed by a Nativity Set? Seriously?

Thanks to the current rulings in the U.S. Supreme Court, many Governments are being advised that they can have religious displays, as long as they are parts of a larger, broader, display that is not solely for religious purposes. In addition to the Menorahs, there are Nativity Scenes, Christmas Trees, Snowpeople, Grinches and Santa Clauses being included.

Somehow, I find that more appropriate, anyway. Since Christmas has become far more and far less than a religious holiday. More people take their kids to see Santa than to the Christmas Cantata anymore.

So this is one atheist that still shouts out “Merry Christmas!” Hey, we got Halloween, it is only fair for them to have a part of another holiday.

1 comment:

  1. Dagoods,

    You don't think "Left Behind" is a scary movie?