This post originally appeared on this blog on December 10, 2010. I thought it was a topic that could be revisited year after year.
During this time of year there are inevitably blogs and articles galore about Christmas. The commercialization of Christmas; the debate over whether to 'do' Santa or not; questions about whether to boycott Target because they stopped having Salvation Army bell ringers stationed outside their entrance-ways; articles setting us straight on the origins of Christmas; debates about the proper holiday greeting, etc., etc., etc. There is endless debate going on about every aspect of Christmas.
Very controversial is Christmas. Interestingly enough, the man whose birth we Christians celebrate on Christmas day, is a pretty controversial man indeed. He was, when he was alive, and he has continued to be for the past 2000+ years since his death. It stands to reason that the celebration of his birth would be equally steeped in controversy.
I don't presume to speak for Jesus, but if the accounts of his life can be relied upon, it is a pretty safe bet that he would not mind the controversy. What he probably would mind, however, is if we (his followers) steamrolled over everyone and gave them what-for if they didn't believe in celebrating his birth.
There was a Facebook status update I once saw on several of my friends' walls that read: Christmas season is in full swing. I'm inviting all my Facebook family and friends to join me in returning to the traditional greeting of "MERRY CHRISTMAS" instead of the politically correct "Happy Holidays" !! If you agree with me, please repost this message.......Merry Christmas!!!.. Now, I certainly mean no disrespect to those who posted the message, nor do I have a problem with it, per se; it's not the wording, but the overall tone of the post I take exception to.
Here's the deal as I see it: I have many non-Christian friends from Jewish to Atheist and everything in between, and not one of them has ever voiced their disdain for the Merry Christmas greeting. Oh sure, my non-Christian friends don't send me cards this time of year wishing me a Merry Christmas. Their cards run the gamut of greetings from Season's Greetings to Blessed Be, but they would never be offended if my card to them said Merry Christmas on it. It just is not that big of a deal to them. I am beginning to think it is we who have made a big deal of it.
Hear this, Christian friends: No one is trying to desecrate Christmas for us. Non-Christians around the country may choose to decorate a tree, deck it out in red and green and proceed to open presents right along with us on December 25th, but that does not mean they are taking Christ out of our Christmas. First of all, they have no desire to do so. Second of all, it is impossible for them to accomplish such.
Others can have all the celebrations they desire to on December 25th - they can make it about Santa; they can make it about family; they can make it about presents; they can make it about ribbon, about packages, boxes and bags...sorry got off on a Grinch tangent there. The point is they can make it special for themselves, in whatever way they choose and it has no impact on my own Christian celebration whatsoever. I will go on believing in my Christ. I will go on celebrating his birth. I will go on reveling in his love and that is that. And guess what? Non-Christians are fine with that. They aren't trying to take it away from me.
I do believe in being aware of other's beliefs and being sensitive to them, so I don't think we should disregard political correctness in favor of seeking to offend by shouting Merry Christmas at someone whom we know is an Atheist. What would be the point? What I am saying is, we really don't have to stop saying Merry Christmas on their account, because I really don't think they will give it much of a thought. They are aware that the majority of people in America are Christian, and therefore celebrate Christmas as a religious holiday, there is no sense beating them over the head with it.
Oh, I am sure there is some curmudgeonly non-Christian out there who would feel slighted and who would not hesitate to call attention to the fact that THEY don't celebrate Christmas thank-you-very-much, but there are some curmudgeonly Christians out there who are intent on steamrolling through the season as if no one else exists as well.
I don't believe we should to alter our lives based on either side of the extreme. Most people can peacefully meet in the middle. You would be surprised how tolerant of your beliefs, Christian or otherwise, other people are when you are tolerant of theirs. Try it this Christmas season. I'll bet the spirit of the season, and the spirits of your fellow human beings will not let you down.