Right on schedule, the “war on Christmas” troops are gearing up for battle. I’ll bet you know the drill: chain e-mails telling you the ACLU wants to outlaw Christmas, angry tirades about the number of holiday songs at someone’s kid’s school show, the clerk who doesn’t say “Merry Christmas” in a voice loud enough to be heard at the North Pole.
Can we please, please stop the madness?
First and foremost, using the word “war” right now is an insult to the men and women who are off fighting actual battles. A clerk not wishing you a Merry Christmas is not even close to the universe in which our troops will be spending their holidays. So let’s take that word off the table right now.
Aside from that, this manufactured outrage is just plain wrong and decidedly un-American. We are so privileged to live in a land that guarantees freedom of religion. That means ANY religion, not the one the majority of people practice. And it guarantees separation of church and state. Again, that means ALL churches, including the one most people belong to. So if someone wants their child to sing nothing but songs about God, then that parent should choose one of the many fine parochial schools in Oak Lawn. Or, like we do, sing your hearts out at home and church to “Silent Night” and “Joy to the World.” But government-funded schools should not be expected to endorse any religion, so that means singing songs about snow and Santa instead of Jesus and Mary.
I know someone who refuses to shop anywhere that has the word "holiday" or "xmas" in its display. If she could hear me from up on her high horse, I'd explain that the X in Xmas is not an attempt to make the word secular, despite what many, many, many people (especially those with access to e-mail and a forwarding button) try to tell us. The X is from the first letter of the Greek word for Christ. Apparently the rush to judgment doesn't allow for reason or a quick search of Wikipedia.
I wish we could take all this manufactured Christian outrage and channel it toward what we should really be angry about – high unemployment, lack of adequate funding for schools, children going to bed hungry every night. Those are the things I think Jesus would want us to be battling against, not the clerk making minimum wage who says “Happy Holidays” instead of “Merry Christmas.”
So Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Blessed Solstice and best wishes for whatever holiday (if any) you celebrate this month. No matter what you call it, most of us get some time off work and a chance to be with our family and friends – and that is always a reason to celebrate.