Fresh snow has fallen on the CornCob City, my prairie home. The Town has the parks adorned with decorations and lights. It’s quite pretty - the twinkle of the lights and the Merry Christmas signs. And yet not so heartwarming because over the past few years, in reaction to a manufactured War on Christmas, some in our community, have felt the need to make it aggressively “Merry Christmas.” And while I’m almost sure it's just me, the pretty lights and the illuminated Merry Christmas signs seem to be punctuated with an “F-you.” Out of fear and spite, it seems like Merry Christmas has been weaponized and quite honestly, it takes a lot of the Christmas sparkle out of the season.
Light of the World shines for all
I get it, Christmas is a very special time of year for many people. It is full of precious memories and traditions that often hold a deep sense of meaning, ones that have been celebrated for generations. Any changes some folks may perceive are not because of a nefarious plot; rather there are increasingly more folks who don’t share our Christian faith or traditions. Yes, there are many new Canadians who bring with them a rich heritage and often a belief system and traditions that differ from ours. Also, we cannot ignore that there are more “born and raised” Canadians who do not share our Christian faith either. Is it reasonable to expect folks who don’t share our Christian faith to feel the same way about Jesus and His place in Christmas as we do?
In our multi-cultural country, we need to make room for these folks too. By making this space for them it in no way diminishes our Christian faith or our deep experience of meaning and practice around Christmas.
Because nothing says Merry Christmas like snarky defensiveness
Unfortunately, there are those who will stoke peoples fears by suggesting their beloved traditions, faith, and way of life are under attack by the scapegoat ideology of the day. Then they stoke this fear to a fevered pitch and capitalize on it for their own gain and brand it the “War on Christmas.” Can you say "Christmas cha-ching $$$" for these purveyors of outrage?
When Christians buy into and ratchet up the anxiety and offense of the myth that says "Merry Christmas" in public is prohibited, it can make for some really indignant and snarky Christian people. When these things are framed as acts of aggression, and we draw battle lines, the fruit of the “War On Christmas” is fear, division, and defensiveness – none of which is a “Fruit of the Spirit.”
I have never had anyone respond negatively to me wishing them a Merry Christmas, regardless of the context. Often I speak with folks of different religions and those with no religion at all, and they tell me they are not offended when wished a Merry Christmas. It doesn’t bother them at all - unless you weaponize your Merry Christmas with self-righteousness and passive aggression. Then, they just think you are odd and quickly forget all about you.
Keeping Some Christ in Christmas
I fully agree that Jesus is the reason for the season but let’s not get caught up in the fiction and manufactured hype of the "War on Christmas.” Rather than ranting Facebook posts, or the cascade of tacky memes, boycotts or guerrilla styled “Merry Christmas” greetings to store clerks, let’s put some feet to keeping Christ in Christmas.
In keeping Christ in Christmas, we might consider:
- Lighten up! You're not under attack.
- Befriending a new Canadian and inviting them to dinner.
- Support the local food bank, shelter or charity.
- Consider adopting a family or two for the holidays.
- Express sincere gratitude to people who have served you.
- Reconcile with folks with whom you may have an issue.
- Be generous financially and relationally.
- Be kind and gracious to everyone you meet – even while shopping in the busy shopping centers and restaurants.
By living the Christmas hope in real, everyday ways, we are reflecting the “Light of the World” to folks who may not know the love and hope we have found. Now that lovely light really twinkles!