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Friday, December 02, 2011

Happy Holidays? Or Merry Christmas?

WBBQ is playing Christmas music. The advertising circulars are pushing strings of lights and artificial trees. And someone on Warren Road who doesn't have to worry about paying his electricity bill already has a house and yard with so many lights that it can be seen from space with the naked eye.

That means it's time for the annual declarations that there is a War on Christmas! Drink every time you see a Facebook status update about this raging non-issue!

There is no war on Christmas. There is no plot to rid America of Christianity - a religion to which about 80 percent of the population belongs - because it would be a losing battle from the start (likewise, there is no plot to rid public schools of prayer or copies of The Bible, but that's a post for another day).

What does it take to turn some usually polite and kind folks into whirling dervishes? Say "Happy Holidays" to them. I dare you. Then you, too, can be accused of "trying to take the 'Christ' out of Christmas."

I cannot count the number of times I've been sniped at by grocery store cashiers and random people I encounter for using that phrase. No, honestly, I've actually lost count JUST THIS YEAR.

What's up with the attitude, folks? How productive do you really think it is to snap at me for not having a copy of your social script? Let me answer that for you: Not productive at all. I can guarantee that does not make anyone want to visit your church, or even hang out with you in a casual setting, during which you might have an opportunity to share with them your relationship with Jesus.

I've been saying "Happy Holidays" all my life, and I guess I always just assumed that it referred to all the holidays between Thanksgiving and New Year's Day. I never thought it was a dig at Christians - because how is a stranger even supposed to know that you're a Christian when tossing out some seasonal parting phrase?

Granted, if you assume that every person to whom you wish a good winter holiday season is Christian, you would be correct 80 percent of the time. But here's the thing: The other holidays to which many people are referring aren't even non-Christian holidays. After all, there IS a reason for the song "The Twelve Days of Christmas."

Protestant Christians who come from different ethnicities and nationalities and non-Protestant Christians all celebrate more religious holidays in December than just Christmas. Do you know who celebrates Christmas like "Christmas Defenders" think it should be celebrated? White folks raised in a Protestant home in America. White folks raised in a Protestant home in Germany or Sweden or Canada celebrate additional religious holidays in December. Likewise, any American raised in a Catholic, Episcopalian, Lutheran, Greek Orthodox, Christian Orthodox or Coptic Christian home also celebrates additional religious holidays in December.

For example, Saint Nicholas Day is Dec. 6. On this day, Catholics, Orthodox Christians, Episcopalians and Lutherans host a festival for children to honor the pious Dutch miracle-worker and gift-giver - from whom, of course, Americans partially draw the Santa Claus legend.

The one that always choked me up in Sunday School is Holy Innocents' Day, also called Childermas (Children's Mass). Celebrated on Dec. 27 or 28, on this day the faithful honor all of the children who were murdered by King Herod in his attempt to kill the infant Jesus before he rose to power: "A voice was heard in Ramah, weeping and great mourning; Rachel weeping for her children." (Jeremiah 31:15) Some historians say as many as 10,000 children were slaughtered. Weeping and great mourning, indeed.

So, cashiers far and wide can snap at me all you want, but that behavior engenders ZERO peace on earth and goodwill towards men. So don't be surprised if I snap back. Because in honor of those 10,000 children, and to be as inclusive of friends from all faiths and traditions, I will continue to say "Happy Holidays" to everyone this time of year.

I'm not taking Christ out of Christmas. I'm inviting everyone to what is supposed to be a month-long party.

December/January Christian Holidays


      1. Outstanding, Stacey! It's ridiculously sad you've had so much grief over this. Isn't it a shame all those so-called Christians forget about that whole "And on Earth, peace and goodwill to all men" thing? Of course there're a lot of other big December holidays, too- both religious & secular. Those are just as important to the folks who celebrate them as the religious Christmas is to Christians.