I had written this post up a couple of weeks ago, and wasn’t going to publish it, but after my Christmas Plans post a couple of days ago, I though some might get the wrong impression. I’m no Christmas Hum-bug. I just think that people can be a little too pro-Christmas.
I grew up in a town where you could never be Christian enough. Sure, I was (and am) a Christian; but that wasn’t the point. It didn’t matter if I went to church on Sunday, because I didn’t go on Wednesday1. It’s not unlike how these days, you can’t have too many American flags hanging around. You can’t have too many yellow-ribbon-magnets showing just how much you support the troops.
It seems to matter none that all these things don’t actually prove anything, other that you just care way too much what other people think of you.
Now, we have several conservative Christian groups boycotting stores because these stores are Anti-Christian. Are they really? Of course not. Anti-Christian stores tend to not have entire seasonal areas of floorspace dedicated to Christmas decorations. However, the fact that these stores only state Happy Holidays in their adds or in banners is a clear sign to these organizations that they are indeed out to destroy Christmas. When I was growing up, you had to be green, mean, and covered in fur and willing to steal toys out of little girl’s hands before any came close to saying you were out to ruin Christmas. Now, apparently wishing people Happy Holidays means you aren’t Christian enough and, therefore, you are a
witch out to destroy baby Jesus’ birthday.
Christmas isn’t in any danger. Even my non-Christian friends, from atheists to Jews to Hindus, all seem to really enjoy Christmas; with many even saying it’s their favorite holiday2. Everyone is in a better mood and the decorations bring smiles to most everyone’s faces (unless your neighbor goes a little too far). However, the fact that New Year’s is just around the corner from Christmas, and the fact they at least a couple of religions have some relatively large holiday’s around the same time, results in folks just saying "Happy Holidays." Retail outlets would rather just be brief (advertising isn’t free, especially around December) and also be inclusive of everyone who might shop there.
I can remember when Christian groups used to accuse stores of over-commercializing Christmas, and they might have had a legitimate argument then. Some of the stuff we associate with Christmas is actually all pagan anyway (Yule was an ancient Germanic tradition that involved burning logs, hanging mistletoe, and at least in part, giving gifts) and they used to complain about those, too. However, no one’s saying even that anymore. They’re just upset at the branding problem. This is a perfect case of people taking offense when none was meant. This is way too much like over-political-correctness, even if from a group that complains about having to be politically correct.
- Of course, I am Presbyterian. We don’t have Wednesday evening services, known in my family as booster-shot-service. Of course, that fact was lost on most people in my hometown. I guess they expected me to just go to some other church that did or just sit alone in the dark on Wednesday evenings. In fact, to explain just how big a deal this is, in my hometown, most businesses other than my Dad’s law practice closed at noon on Wednesday so everyone could half half of a holy day off. Yeah, but I was the weird one. [↩]
- I’m attending a Christmas party tonight at a friend’s home who happens to be a Jain. [↩]