None of us will ever forget where we were and what we were doing when we heard that war had broken out against Christmas. Once the War on Christmas began, our lives were never the same. Sorry to be a smart ass. I can’t help it.
Are you a soldier in the War on Christmas? If so, which army? How’s it going? Looks like Christmas is winning, but it depends on whom you ask.
As a matter of full disclosure, I must tell you that I like Christmas. Check that. I love Christmas. I always have. I’m tempted to lie and say that it’s because of some religious fervor that possesses me. That’s not it. I just love it. The presents, music, decorations–all of it. My house is a garish display of lights. We buy our kids too much stuff and don’t care.
Once when I was about 6 years old, I got so fired up one Christmas morning that I sat down and drank like 6 glasses of milk. Why? I don’t know. I just went mental. I puked, too. I was totally unhinged with excitement. But, that was before the War.
Unlike most wars, this one creates debate about whether it even exists. The War even has its own website. Not surprisingly, Fox News has its own web page devoted to the War. If it’s on the Internet, it has to be real. Even the Pope was accused of attacking Christmas by quite correctly pointing out that December 25 isn’t really Jesus’s birthday. Others are just as adamant that there is no war. So, whether you are a far left atheist still mourning the untimely murder of Madeline Murray O’Hare or a hard right evangelical longing to feel the lash of religious persecution, there is a camp for you.
It is said that Christmas is a time for giving. For many, it is a holy time to celebrate the savior of their religion. These folks, of course, are Christians. Generally speaking, they’re good folks. Like any religion, the loudest and most profane are typically front and center, giving a black eye to the larger flock. Many Christians believe that there is a war being waged against Christmas. I suppose it would be inappropriate to call it a Holy War, but they are convinced nonetheless that they are in the midst of a struggle to preserve Christmas. I don’t doubt that they believe there is a war and that it must be fought tooth and nail.
Of all religious holidays, Christmas certainly has spawned its own secular division, with Santa Claus and the elves leading the way. Evidently, we are so unlikely to freely give gifts to children that someone conceived that a fat man and a bunch of elf/slaves was more believable. Flying reindeer, too. For the most part, though, Santa and Jesus have peacefully coexisted. Despite appearing to be the logical choice to lead this war, Santa seems to be sitting it out. As a result, I’m not sure who leads this gang of misfit toys assailing Christmas. I’ll just attribute it to the Liberal Elite.
If the War on Christmas has Commander in Chief for the defense, it may be Bill O’Reilly. You know Bill. He’s Fox News’s agent provocateur. He developed the modern TV interview format where you ask a guest a question and then shout until he or she gives up trying to answer. Bill sums up his view of the War as follows:
See, I think it’s all part of the secular progressive agenda — to get Christianity and spirituality and Judaism out of the public square. Because if you look at what happened in Western Europe and Canada, if you can get religion out, then you can pass secular progressive programs like legalization of narcotics, euthanasia, abortion at will, gay marriage, because the objection to those things is religious- based, usually.
Wow. Judaism? Uh, Bill, Jews don’t think Jesus was the messiah. Not sure what the point is on that one. Of course, Bill’s larger point is that it’s part of a conspiracy to destroy society. I’ll admit that Bill sees a lot of things in the world that I don’t, but he’s bound to be right sometimes. Let’s take a closer look at the bloody front lines of the War.
Christmas greetings are controversial. I don’t know anyone who is grossly offended by a greeting of “Merry Christmas!” Now, I’ll admit that I’m a bit of home body and live an insular lifestyle. Maybe there are people who curse and stomp and throw things when they hear this common holiday greeting. If you’re one of those people, lighten up. It’s no big deal.
What I DO hear a lot of is people offended by “Happy Holidays!” It’s Christmas, damn you! I know people SO offended by this they vow not to patronize businesses that dare to offend with this greeting. Why? I guess it’s because they’re afraid they’ll be euthanized after having a narcotics-induced abortion. I don’t really know.
As always, children are also casualties of war. On Facebook, this meme is making the rounds:
This hasn’t happened to my children–yet. I realize that this cartoon is a bit a hyperbole used to illustrate some point. My kids have always had parties at school around Christmas time. Okay, they don’t officially call them Christmas parties, but that’s what the kids call them. I’ll admit that they don’t re-enact the Nativity. They also don’t participate in pagan rituals, unless eating a bunch of sweets is pagan.
When I was kid, we had Christmas parties at school. We even had a Christmas play. I was a shepherd. Is this horrible? I doubt it. Is it a questionable use of school time? Maybe. It probably didn’t harm anyone, with the possible exception of my one classmate who had to sit in the hall in a chair. She was a Jehovah’s Witness. Actually, it may have harmed me. No six year old kid wants to be paraded out in front of the entire school in a bathrobe. Oh well.
Much of the War is a matter of semantics. Of course, people may be too politically correct these days. With Christmas everywhere, it’s a little odd to say “Happy Holidays.” A “Merry Christmas” here and there shouldn’t offend. Generally speaking, it doesn’t seem to have that effect. The same should be true of “Happy Holidays.” After all, it is the holiday season. Christmas, Hanukkah, New Years Day are all holidays to some extent. Even pagans can celebrate the Winter Solstice which must be some kind of holiday, too.
I may be part of the problem, if there is one. I tend to say Merry Christmas to people, without giving a thought to their religious views. I’ve never gotten a response of “THERE IS NO GOD!” or “I AM JEWISH, YOU BASTARD!” Maybe I’ve been lucky. I’m much more concerned about saying “Happy Holidays” to the wrong person.
Some people don’t like “Xmas.” Put Christ back in Christmas, they say. They take it as a secular attempt to remove Jesus from his own holiday. This isn’t true, of course. The “X” is the Greek letter Chi which is used as a shorthand for “Christ.” Oh well, never let the facts get in the way of righteous outrage.
Retailers seem to be the prime combatants in this war. Rage is directed toward them for the use of “holidays” instead of “Christmas.” In some cases, it was the result of such silliness as Lowe’s calling its Christmas trees “Family Trees.” I don’t know if this justifies religious outrage, as much as it does treating them like marketing dolts. Who ever bought a Family Tree? Not me, that’s for sure. We already have Family Trees, otherwise we wouldn’t know any of our relatives.
Even Santa Claus isn’t spared. Some folks don’t like the emphasis on Santa. After all, he isn’t Jesus, now, is he? Of course, he isn’t. In the 1960’s, a particularly vile anti-Semitic preacher named George L.K. Smith claimed that Santa was the product of “World Jewry” (whatever the hell that is) designed to supplant Christ. After all, “Santa” almost spells “Satan.” That can’t be a coincidence. See how easy it is to join in?
You want to know who the real anti-Christmas warriors were? The Puritans. Those tight-asses hated Christmas. Hated it. They hated it so much that they outlawed all the traditional celebrations. Now, that’s a war.
As with most wars, the government plays a big role. People like Christmas trees, and the government wastes a lot of resources trying to decide what to call them. At the end of the day, few people care that they are, in fact, Christmas trees. Naturally, there is litigation over Nativity displays and the like. Even though they don’t offend me, I can understand that one might think the government shouldn’t be in the practice of endorsing any particular religion. I’m not sure I could get fired up enough about it to spend any time in court.
Of course, some folks believe that the U.S. was founded as a Christian Nation™, despite strong historical proof to the contrary. It’s not my job to disabuse them of that notion, although I would note that our government didn’t even bother making Christmas (or anything else, for that matter) a holiday until 1870. (Surprisingly, our founding fathers weren’t all eaten up with the Christmas spirit. In fact, the first session of Congress was held on Christmas Day. Talk about a bunch of Scrooges.)
Truth be told, in our country, no religious holiday is given the same deference as Christmas, with the closing of businesses and government services and a non-stop marketing onslaught which starts just after Labor Day. Employers are not only expected to give their employees time off work but also to give them extra money–a Christmas Bonus, no less. We don’t do that for Easter, the holiest of times for Christians. We don’t do anything at all for Rosh Hashanah or Yom Kippur. Try starting a holiday for Laylat al-Qadr. You might end up in Gitmo for your next evening of prayer. Even our entertainment is Christmas themed. Turn on the radio and scan the stations. Bet you’ll hear a Christmas song or two. What about TV and movies? Christmas, Christmas, Christmas.
John Lennon wrote a song called Merry Christmas (War is Over). I don’t care for it, just as I don’t particularly care for many of his post-Beatles songs. But I do think that this war, whenever it started, is over. Christmas won. So, when you hear “Happy Holidays” or get a card saying that, take heart. Merry Christmas is implied. We know that’s what they really mean don’t we?
As lawyer, I’m quite fond of quotations. The Kentucky Court of Appeals penned my favorite legal quote, which is particularly applicable here:
In the celebrated case of Prewitt v. Clayton, 21 Ky. (5 T.B. Mon.) 4, this court, through Chief Justice Bibb, observed:
‘“A bear well painted and drawn to the life is yet the picture of a bear, although the painter may omit to write over it, ‘this is the bear.’”
By parity of reasoning, the bear does not lose its basic characteristics if the artist dubs it a horse.
The First National Bank of Mayfield v. Gardner, Ky., 376 S.W. 2d 311, 314-315 (1964). The same applies to Christmas. A bear is a bear, and Christmas is Christmas. Neither one is a horse.
Ultimately, this is a battle among the secular (Santa and the elves); the religious (Baby Jesus and the Wise Men); the anti-religious (Atheists); and the religious non-Christians (everyone else). In other words, the Americans. Nothing is more American than disagreeing with each other. We’ll fight amongst ourselves about anything. It’s the American Way. So, choose a side and weigh in. It’s fun.
Oh, I almost forgot. Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays! Now, what are you going to do?