I want to write today on a topic I don’t really get. It’s this war on Christmas thing I hear about. There are people who believe that Christmas is under attack! I don’t see it, but I’m going to try to think it out.
First, I guess I should say that I grew up in a very traditional American family. We put up a Christmas tree every year, my dad put up a candy cane fence strung with lights around the front yard, we had lawn art of famous cartoon characters dressed up for the holidays. I believed in Santa Clause and one of the most magical days of my life was when I woke up in the morning and found boot prints made of ash outside my room and all over the living room. There were half eaten cookies and a cup of half drank milk, as though Santa didn’t really have time to sit down and enjoy his snack. We weren’t a religious family, but my mom tried to drag us to Church on Christmas Eve for a candlelight service. I knew that Christmas was about the birth of Jesus, and there was no conflict between Him and Santa. I never heard of any such thing.
When I was in prison I met a whole new group of people. I converted to Catholic and most of us had similar views, it’s about Jesus but Santa is ok as well. No conflict. Then I met the Protestants. Our unit’s Christians were pretty heavily divided between Catholic and Protestant. The chaplain was a Southern Baptist who believed that everyone else was going to Hell. Period. He particularly hated Catholics. The Protestant group was very organized and almost militant. I took some classes with them and it was amazing the differences. One of them was that they were absolutely convinced that Santa was a tool of the devil. They would decorate, but it was all angels, stars, and wise men. They didn’t leave it at that either. They would preach about it. I tried to point out that Santa Claus was the Dutch pronunciation of Saint Nicholas who was a bishop. A Christian. No, they didn’t care. If you rearrange the letters of Santa you get Satan! Rudolph and Frosty are trying to blind children from seeing the truth about Christmas. And it was my fault, because I am Catholic and it was the Catholic Church who allowed pagan ideas to infiltrate Christmas. “It says in the Bible not to bring a tree in the house and decorate it!” they would rant.
That was key in my understanding of all this. It’s this weird idea that you have to worship God just right or you are actually worshiping a devil. They were serious about it in there. Out here I am sure there are people who see it that way, but I think most are simply worried that people are forgetting Christmas is about the birth of Jesus. That people are saying happy holidays instead of merry Christmas, stuff like that. That Christmas is more of a winter fest than a celebration of the Incarnation.
My reaction to that? Who cares! Celebrate it however you want, and leave everyone else alone!
Now I do have a few issues with Christmas. It is getting out of hand! I remember, back in my youth, we had Halloween than Thanksgiving, than Christmas, followed by New Years. Now we have Halloween than Christmas, with Thanksgiving as sort of a beginning the season feast. If there is a war on Christmas, Christmas is winning. It is on the offensive and is eating other holidays! What happened to Advent? The season before Christmas where you gradually build up to it? Anyone remember that? Now we build up to it from Halloween to Thanksgiving, then Christmas explodes all over the place. By the time Dec 25 actually gets here, we are so sick of it all and completely exhausted.
What do you think? Is there are real war against Christmas being put on by atheists or “Satan”? Or is commercialism taking over? Is putting up a tree and telling you kids about Santa worshiping pagan gods? Where is Jesus in all of this? Or is all this just noise?