Thursday, December 9, 2010

The Great Debate

It candies my yams a bit when Christians get selfish about Christmas. It's around this time every year when we who believe in Jesus start getting real territorial about His birthday just because it's celebrated alongside some other winter festivities. You know what I mean: The great "Merry Christmas" versus "Happy Holidays" contest.

I am exhausted by this debate.  After all, the time between November and January hosts a number of different holidays - including, but not limited to, Christmas. Just because I celebrate Christmas in the true spirit of Christianity, and even sign my cards "Merry Christmas" doesn't mean that everyone else in our nation of religious freedom does. Because I believe God wants me to be tolerant - especially during Advent Season - I'll take no offense if someone offers me a more inclusive wish this winter. In fact, I think just accepting it with graciousness is the Christian thing to do.

Even though I don't celebrate it, I tell my Jewish friends that I hope they enjoy Hanukkah. I say Merry Christmas to people who I know celebrate the birth of Christ.  When the man at Target hands me my receipt and says, "Happy Holidays,"  I don't think he is doing it to slight Jesus; I think he's doing it because he doesn't know what particular holiday I honor. That...and he's just being friendly. 

I live in a very culturally diverse part of the United States, and never once have I felt like all these so-called grinches from other faiths have tried to steal my Christmas. Ever.  The only hostility between Thanksgiving and the New Year I sense comes from Christians who spend far too much energy and voice yelling about what Wal-mart calls December 25th than living in the spirit of love and acceptance that Christ was born into this world to provide.

I grew up in a rural part of the small town South that is buckled pretty tightly in the Bible Belt. When I go home every year in December I see businesses declaring that We Do Not Celebrate the Holidays. We Celebrate Christmas. Is a simple Merry Christmas! not enough?

If I didn't still speak East Tennessee and know that what the sign really means is "We love God and we're not afraid to show it"  I'd be quick to decifer their seemingly harsh sounding Christmas message as a little bit hateful...icey, even.

Does the confused soul looking for magic at Christmas time because she's lonely and broken think, "Oh...these angry, anti-holiday/Christmas-exclusive people seem loving and open-hearted?"  I would guess no. I see a We Only Like Our Kind attitude that I don't think celebrates the birth, and certainly not the life of Christ what so ever.  I think the well-intenioned people who "do not" celebrate the holidays are doing so from a pure place; I just think such an attempt to share Christ is sometimes lost.

Yesterday one of my favorite Christians, the author Donald Miller, tweeted (with a clear hint of sarcasm and humor aimed at this debate) that he would like it if stores took Christ out of Christmas to seperate Jesus from all the consumerism. Miller made me laugh, but I don't think this continuing argument every season is funny. Once again this year I'm seeing people put up their Christmas defenses, and I just think if Christians went, instead, on the offensive to be happy about (or at least not in some competition, commericial or otherwise) with other holidays during - dare I say..."the holidays" -  it would make for such better marketing of our faith, all while showcasing the Spirit of the season Christians proudly celebrate.

all images credited to paperlesspost


Katy said...

I cannot emphasize enough how much I love this post. It articulately states everything I feel but have trouble putting into words. Thank you for doing this! I celebrate Christmas. Celebrating the birth of Christ means so much to me. But I have friends who are Jewish or who aren't religious. And I think they carry love and kindness in their hearts because it's the holidays even if they don't celebrate Christmas or if Christmas doesn't necessarily involve a huge religious celebration. That's why my Christmas cards say "Wishing you peace, love, and joy." I think that's what the birth of Christ, the holidays, and this time of year should be about. Not intolerance and division. AWESOME POST!

Dee Stephens said...

I'm with you on this too. I celebrate Christmas but respect other faiths and their beliefs.

Jess said...

I love this post!!! So well said.

Shannon said...

Preach on sista! I celebrate Christmas but often find myself saying Happy Holidays to others I don't know well just convey a message of goodwill and peace!

Hope you have a great one, P!

Mrs. Baker said...

If you were near me, I'd high five you! This is an amazing post that I think everyone needs to read!

On a side note, what part of East Tennessee are you from?? That's where I am!

Patrick said...

Wishing a happy, equal opportunity, gender neutral, non-racially identifiable winter solstice season that doesn't discriminate against individuals with disabilities.

Desert Dreaming said...

Good for you and your post!!! Beautifully written. And, I hope you have a wonderful blessed CHRISTmas!!!!!

Sarah Beth - Dixie Gator Gal said...

Well said! We celebrate both Christmas and Hanukkah at our house. Our cards always read Joyful Holiday Wishes, and then I hand write Merry Christmas or Happy Hanukkah in my note to family and friends. I think you are right on target-thanks for this great "Holiday" message.


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