Ah, December, that magical time of year when Traditional and Secular factions trim their trenches with garlands and barbed wire, dreaming fondly of the other side face down in the mud with a stake of holly through their hearts.
This year’s Christmas season began with Black Friday, and then moved to lawsuits, boycotts, demonstrations and counter-demonstrations. Truly the battle is toxic, where is the joy of the season? Both sides are hypocritical, and deserve a good slap.
First, the Traditionalists–
For all the “CHRIST-mas” posturing, are we really celebrating Jesus’s birth? Or are we identical to more irreligious Christmas celebrations?
Are we focused on presents, food, presents, vacations, presents, family, presents, television specials and presents? Is Jesus treated like an optional Christmas accessory? Yes? Then don’t complain about the damage someone else is doing to Christmas! Christmas isn’t being destroyed, but abandoned.
Do the math. If the “holiday” isn’t holy to Christians, to whom should it be holy? Jesus said to take the 2×4 out of your own eye before pointing fingers, remember? So clean up your own mess, first.
But I’m not letting Secularists off the hook, either.
Who opposes religious celebrations? Not people of other religions. I’ve been wished a Merry Christmas by Hindus, Sikhs, Jews, Muslims, Atheists, and others. Being non-Christian doesn’t make you hostile to Christian celebrations. There is another necessary ingredient.
Who tries to expunge religious (especially Christian religious) expression? The politically-driven Secularist. They piously tell us how inclusive and enlightened they are. “You must not say that, because that would offend so-and-so”, they tell us with paternal solemnity. Did so-and-so complain? No. But don’t do it, because someone might not like it.
(How is it not racist to say foreigners cannot handle beliefs besides their own, and might be scandalized by a Christmas tree or manger scene? You’re not calling other cultures unenlightened, are you? ‘Fess up, whiner. You want it stopped, not because somebody else’s feelings might be hurt, but because YOURS are.)
There is — especially in government, and/or Union environments — pressure to disassociate with the slightest mention of Christmas. Nativity scenes are outlawed. Christmas songs are reworded and “sanitized”. Any non-materialistic aspects of Christmas are chipped away in a steady progression of imposed cultural self-denial.
Is there any wonder that concerned Traditionalists see implications of Orwell or the Firemen of Fahrenheit 451 in the systematic targeting and hatred of Christmas? Not Christmas itself, either, but the Christ of Christmas.
And there is something more. The true hypocrisy of the Secularists comes from wanting to have their cake and eat it too. They want to keep the Christmas tree, but call it a holiday tree. They want time off, as a generic holiday. They want the gift, but shun the Giver. Teachers forbidden to utter the name Jesus still gladly take their Christmas vacations.
Christmas is being painted not as merely culturally unimportant, but worse: an offensive cultural monstrosity for which participants ought to be ashamed.
The Christmas Cold War is even affecting third parties. A local business sells teacher supplies, including bulletin boards. Because of an aggressively anti-Christmas policy, public school teachers may not decorate classes for Christmas. This depressed demand, and now, people wanting to decorate seasonally, can’t find materials with Christmas themes. (Except Santa and Frosty, which are permitted.)
With both sides are at each other’s throats, and with acrimony destroying our seasonal joy, is there a way to make both sides happy?
I have a modest proposal. Make Christmas optional.
Instead of a Federally-mandated holiday, where governments and businesses are legally obligated to give the 25th of December as a paid day off, leave it to each business and department to decide for themselves whether to celebrate it. Ask for the feedback of its membership!
Any department or business that decides internally to acknowledge Christmas as an important day, is free to do so! They might choose to offer Christmas as a paid day off, include a Christmas bonus, have Christmas parties and decorations without anyone complaining that his rights are being violated by having Christmas “shoved down his throat”. Schools might even choose to have the traditional pageants and awkward Christmas performances so many of us remember.
Any department or business that chooses NOT to acknowledge Dec 25 as significant, is free to do that, too! For them, it would be an ordinary workday. Anyone wanting that day off would use a personal vacation day. There will be no mention of Christmas (directly or indirectly) in the office. Just don’t play games and ask for some other day off in its place. You either want this one or you don’t.
Think what might happen. People who don’t want Christmas, can “humbug” to their heart’s content. In fact, their humbugging will save money for the business or government they work for. Those who want to keep Christmas, might have to take a little effort to make the day special. If your office does celebrate Christmas, you can wish a hearty Merry Christmas, without that cautious backward look, wondering if they will complain to your supervisor. Maybe we’ll enjoy the season again, and even give thought to what it truly celebrates.
Who knows, we might revisit some ghosts of Christmas past, and wake up Christmas morning having learned the lesson that Scrooge himself needed to learn.
Lower Image; Scrooge, from Charles Dickens: A Christmas Carol. In Prose. Being a Ghost Story of Christmas. With Illustrations by John Leech. London: Chapman & Hall, 1843. First edition; public domain