I’ve been sending out Christmas cards since I was around 16 years old, when my mom told me I was old enough to start sending out my own cards. The cards I chose over the course of many,many, many years depended on a lot of things, but it never occurred to me—ever–to wonder if my choice of card would offend anyone.
My choices could be anywhere from Currier and Ives winter scenes to merry Santas to red nosed reindeer to Christmas trees to peace doves to celebrations around the world to the Christ child in the manger. Over the years I’ve received many more cards than I’ve ever sent and I’m happy to say I’ve enjoyed them, each and every one.
Sometimes I would choose my card based on the inside greeting. It might say “Merry Christmas to you and yours” or “Happy Holidays!” or “Great Joy and Glad Tidings” or “Peace on Earth”. Something along those lines. (“Season’s Greetings” went to people I didn’t know very well but felt obliged to send a card. You know how it is.)
I’ve wished people I barely know a Merry Christmas or Happy Holidays without giving a thought to how they might take either salutation. I love Christmas. I love the entire happy holiday season from beginning to end. It’s a wonderful time of the year and once I get my damn shopping done and cook whatever the hell I’ve promised to cook, my heart is full of great joy and glad tidings.
I, a non-religious now, still love the Christian part of Christmas. The story of the nativity is breathtaking and beautiful. The Christmas concerts in our local churches are uplifting and glorious. Christmas carols sung by the Mormon Tabernacle Choir never fail to cause my heart to swell and my eyes to tear up.
During the Christmas holidays our collective hearts swell so much it’s a known fact that charity toward others grows exponentially as the days of December wane.
There is no question that Christmas is the holiday that celebrates the birth of Christ. The joy of that event has long translated into Joy to the World. December 25 is a date Christians chose to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ. It corresponds to early pagan solstice celebrations, the sharing of which, for decades, was no big deal. Those of us who are religious celebrate it in one way and those of us who aren’t choose another. It is and always has been the joy of Christmas that bound us together. We honestly thought it was enough.
Now we are engaged in a great religious war. A baffling religious war. A religious war that, if I weren’t so immersed in the aforementioned joy of Christmas, I might even call the worst bad joke in centuries. As jokes go, award-winning bad. An insult to anyone who has ever celebrated Christmas.
The escalation of this phony war on Christmas came out of the head of one super showman. Oh, there might have been some grumblings over the years about the commercializing of Christmas—a righteous reason to grumble, in fact. But it was one Bill O’Reilly who turned the War on Christmas into an annual event, assigning two words—Happy Holidays—as the opening salvo to Christmas, and thus Christian, Armageddon. (Note lack of O’Reilly links. I don’t want them here. You can find them for yourself if you choose. They’re all over the place.)
Along the way O’Reilly has recruited some surprising foot soldiers. People I know well are now talking about this supposed War on Christmas, as if it were real and not just somebody’s clever but hateful idea of a ratings guarantee.
I would ask these people: Where is the battleground? Where are the bodies? Who has been injured? What army has forced them to stop celebrating a Christian Christmas?
Have the churches been shuttered? Has the singing of Carols been outlawed? Has any single Christian been inconvenienced at all by the non-religious celebrations of the Christmas Holidays?
I saw a sweat shirt the other day with this banner: “I’m Not Afraid to Say Merry Christmas.”
Huh? Who is? Who in America is afraid to say “Merry Christmas”?
News Flash: Nobody is afraid. That would be stupid. But just in case, since I was going to do this sometime anyway, let’s give it a whirl and see what happens: (If I’m wrong and I end up dead or something, let me just say right now. . .Really??)