Friday, December 16, 2011

It's the most religiously intolerant time of the year...

You know when you are a writer, or one who writes at least, you sometimes read someone else's stuff and think..."damn! I wish I had written that!" And it especially stings if it's on a topic that you were going to write about and now you are pretty sure you couldn't top it so why bother...*sigh*

So I bring you today's blog after debating with myself about writing it for a long time. See this blog did it so well that I pretty much put my own blog back on the shelf in my mind and was going to leave it there. But as it usually happens, once I start writing a blog in my head I have to get it out before I can make room for more.

Every year I get more and more disgusted with the War on Christmas. You know why? Because there is no war.  Not really. People being insulted about how they are wished Christmas is probably as old as the holiday itself. I can remember a song on a Christmas album when I was a child whose lyrics were..."Don't wish me Merry Xmas or Happy Holidays..." I'm 43 years old and that song was an old one when I was a kid so it's been an issue for a long long time. I think it was titled take the X out of Xmas or something like that. Of course the funny part being that X stands for Christ in the Greek abbreviation so if you are telling me to take the X out of Xmas you are basically telling me to take Christ out.

And this is where the arguments tend to lead. You have someone make a stink about Christmas and religion and then the counter argument is that the early church picked the date for Christmas not based on any sort of knowledge of the date of Christ's birth but in an effort to co-opt celebrations already happening and convert more people to Christianity. Sort of..."See? We throw parties too! Come be with us! We will have fun!" Then people get madder and madder and start tossing insults back and forth and it ends up with a lot of anger and general cranky pantsness. I am going to summarize an argument I read online earlier this month that pretty much sealed for me that I would have to write about this topic.

Original Post: I don't care how you wish me well this season, just have a good one.
Poster 1: Well I will say Merry Christmas.
Poster 2: Well I will say Happy Holidays
OP: Thank you both!  And same to you!
Poster 3:  Hey!  OP I know you celebrate Christmas so why do you let people wish you HH instead of MC??
OP: Because I respect the differences...
(and then it gets nuts)
P3:  That's stupid, it's Christmas, it has always been Christmas.
P4: Actually, it hasn't always been Christmas it was...(quotes and links and such things)
P3: Used to be.  Eons ago.  Doesn't matter now, it is Christmas and this is what it represents now.
P4: But not for everyone
P3: YES! FOR EVERYONE!  If you don't like it don't celebrate at all!

And then it got worse.... general name calling and sending people to hell.

And you see this all the time. All.The.Time. Though I have to admit this year has been the first that I have seen the abundance of "if you aren't a Christian don't celebrate Christmas" posts. Which is where I scratch my head. You cannot (in my mind) say that it doesn't matter what the origins are for the holiday on one hand and bemoan the fact that it continues to evolve on the other. And if the early church adopted the date to try and convert more people why are you now saying it's MY holiday you can't share instead's our holiday, come enjoy!

You all know I was raised in the church. I also went to a private Baptist school so we had Christmas programs, and Christmas break and Christmas Cantatas. And on and on. Christmas was a big deal. As one of our ministers explained it one time Christmas is the easy sell holiday. It's about a baby and family and gifts and stars and there are a lot of pretty songs and fun plays. Easter is the harder sell holiday. It's about death and sin and betrayal and forgiveness and resurrection. But Christmas, Christmas is light and fluffy, caroling in the neighborhoods, free concerts at the church, the living Nativity's a recruiting tool basically. So to hear or read people say, "If you aren't Christian you shouldn't celebrate it at all!" makes me shake my head. And of course makes me want to post, "Then if you are Christian you shouldn't celebrate it in any sort of secular way. Only by Biblical rules, which are...oh wait...there are none!" See, the Bible doesn't say to remember the day of Christ's birth and celebrate it every year. The Church came up with that one all on their own. And this is where the traditions you have and hold were taken from other religions and practices.

And the whole, "Kids can't say Merry Christmas in school!" is bullshit and you and I both know it. C went to an Arts School in Portland, Oregon which is like saying he went to the pinnacle of liberal liberalness. The kids wished each other Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, Happy Hanukkah, Happy Kwanzaa...and on and on...without worry. Nobody took offense at being wished the "wrong" holiday, no one was sent to the principal's office no need for self righteous indignation so stop it.

As I write this blog I am listening to my Christmas music. Right now Joy to the World is playing. Do you find that insulting? An agnostic listening to Christmas carols? Then no worries the next song on the list is Wish Liszt (Toy Shop Madness). But now are you insulted that I am listening to a song by a rock band about toys instead of religious song for Christmas? I enjoyed both of those songs so I am fine either way. In a little bit a nice Jewish woman with a gorgeous voice will sing Christmas carols for me and I will love that as well. Which is where the heart of the argument comes in for me. If you get mad that I wished you Happy Holidays or Merry Christmas instead of the wish you preferred you are saying much more about yourself than you are about me.

I have a Christmas tree but could not care less if you have a holiday tree or if you call my tree a holiday tree. Because....and I know this is hard to grasp....Christmas is a holiday! Oh my gosh! So is Hanukkah. So is Kwanzaa. So is Winter Solstice! They are all holidays! We celebrate Christmas in my house. Not for any real religious reasons, but just because of tradition. C knows the Christmas story but he also knows A Christmas Carol and Elf and National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation. Heat Miser and Snow Miser were as big of a part of his holiday as the Inn Keeper or the Little Drummer Boy. And all of that being said if you wished me Happy Hanukkah I would say thank you.

As the blog above says, the only one who can take Christ out of your Christmas is you. So if you want to celebrate a religious holiday, then Merry Christmas. If you want to celebrate a secular one, then Merry Christmas to you as well! And if you don't celebrate Christmas at all then Happy Holidays and have a wonderful New Year! Enjoy your family. Love your neighbors. Make the day better for some one else. Don't get so wrapped up in the words that you miss the wish behind them.

Have a Cool Yule, y'all!


  1. I think I'll start my own "holiday" called ChristmasKwanzaHannukahSamhainEasterBlackFridayKentDay

    Then, become Supreme Dictator for a year and force everyone to chill on that day :)

  2. It makes me laugh that you made sure to get your name in there as well!