Yes, it’s that time again…but NOT all is “the most wonderful time of the year.”
Don’t get me wrong. I love Christmas. But I am not a fan of the now-annual tradition of those who proclaim there’s a “War on Christmas” and lament that the holiday is being stolen from Christians. This yuletide refrain is more annoying to me than Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer.
The monotonous harbinger of Grinch-ness this year is Sarah Palin, who’s everywhere promoting her new book Good Tidings and Great Joy: Protecting the Heart of Christmas. (I’m not providing the Amazon link ‘cause I don’t want you to buy it! Instead, check out this link.)
Ms. Palin began her book tour in Bethlehem, PA, so that should tell us something about the subtlety of her message. According to the back cover of her book, she only wants people to use the term “Merry Christmas” with her because of her concern that the greeting is being replaced, and she’s intent on “preserving Jesus Christ in Christmas.”
Author’s Note: I don’t mean to just single out Ms. Palin, and this is not a discourse about her politics. She’s only the latest (and currently most visible) in the droning voices on this bogus “War on Christmas” soapbox, which is merely the religious right-wing's holiday edition of “Us” versus “Them.” (Just this week, after I had written this entry, the Fundamentalist organization American Family Association called Christians to boycott Radio Shack because of the company's "censorship of the word 'Christmas'" by saying "Happy Holidays.")
Speaking on Fox and Friends she says, "There is an inherent link between faith and freedom, and if we are not allowed to exercise our expression of faith — whatever that faith may be — then we will be a less, less free country.” She also talks about our right “to celebrate the real reason that we have Christmas. Jesus is the reason for the season” and she claims she is “empowering people to understand…our constitutionally-protected rights to stand up and celebrate the way that we deem."
And to me, this exposes the foundational lies of her rantings. She is clearly not interested in allowing others to exercise their faith or their freedom during this season. She wants to forbid folks from celebrating their own traditions, or using any greeting other than the Palin-approved version. Rather than preserve “Jesus Christ in Christmas,” she only wants to police the vocabulary of others because words…wrong greetings…are the enemies’ weapons in her imaginary war. The freedom of our nation is somehow diminished when a merchant paints “Season’s Greetings” on their window, or an office holds a “Holiday Party” for the employees. Apparently, not only is she uninformed about the amalgamated, pagan history of Christmas, she can’t grasp how businesses—the hallmark of capitalism—would opt for an innocuous, inclusive greeting in advertising that might appeal to a broader shopping audience.
From her book: “Walgreens’ 24-page nationwide circular used the word holiday 36 times without one mention of Christmas.”
Let’s be honest: the season is much more than Jesus. During this time, people of other faiths (or no faith) celebrate as well—Hanukkah, Ramadan, Kwanzaa and Solstice, to name a few. These people of other faiths might also observe some or many Christmas traditions. Or they might not.
It’s certainly okay to celebrate the season with as much Christian emphasis as one desires, even “christianizing” the once-pagan symbols of holly, trees, ornaments, etc. But I get the impression that the solution of the Mistletoe Militias is to horde the holiday, making it some kind of exclusive Christian club, with “Merry Christmas” as the password. And in my opinion, that violates the inclusive words of the angels:
“I'm here to announce a great and joyful event that is meant for everybody.” (Luke 2:10 The Message, emphasis mine)
So, here’s a news flash for Ms. Palin and her Tinsel Troops in this make-believe conflict: I do say “Merry Christmas.” But don’t have a cow (or reindeer) if I also say “Season’s Greeting,” “Joyous Kwanzaa,” "Ramadan Kareem (Noble or Generous Ramadan)," “Hanukkah Sameach (Happy Hanukkah)” or even “Happy Solstice.” It doesn’t means I’ve surrendered my faith, handed over the holiday, capitulated to the pagans or been taken hostage by the godless humanists.
Moreover, I refuse to see those who use any of these greetings as an enemy of my religious traditions. I won’t get offended, and I certainly won’t reprimand them. (How does that spread peace, goodwill and joy?)
Christmas is more than a greeting!
It’s “good news of great joy, which will be for all people.” (Luke 2:10 NASB)
I want everyone to enjoy the wonderful, joyous holiday season!
And have a festive Christmahanakwanzadantis. (That’s an inclusive word I made up to honor several of the traditions celebrated this season…and maybe cause the ‘Merry’ Monitors to cringe just a little.)
P.S. There is Christmas good news in all of this, though not of the angelic variety. Sarah Palin will probably make lots of money hawking her book. Ho. Ho. Ho.