Twas the night before Christmas, and Facebook was quiet,
No winter weather whines or Phil Robertson riot,
I examined a link, posted without care,
Of the 20 hottest celebrities without any hair.
As I pondered on my next riveting status,
I heard a faint tapping at my window lattice,
I should have got up, for I was no craven,
But I was distracted by a meme of Poe and The Raven,
Then out on the lawn there arose a loud clatter,
So I quickly checked Twitter to see what’s the matter,
No tweets about accidents or troublesome boys,
I even searched for the hashtag, #whatsthatnoise
Then back to my news feed, but still hearing the scuffle,
Couldn’t think of a status with this annoying kerfuffle,
What’s all this jingling, hooves clomping on wood,
Perhaps a little snapchat would do me some good.
From somewhere above a voice so merry and thick,
I wondered if this could be the fabled St. Nick,
If it is I should make this my status forthwith!
But according to Snopes it’s just urban myth
So I went back to scrolling through pop culture ga-ga,
And turning down invites to play Candy Crush Saga,
Then a rustle coming from the chimney behind me,
Oh…party tomorrow, thank God Facebook reminds me
So I clicked yes to join and asked what can I bring,
Then watched a you tube video of bad carolers sing,
I coughed as I waved away all the soot in the air.
While enjoying a clip of Mr. Stephen Colbert.
Was that heavy boots stomping over to the tree,
I probably should get up and have a look see,
But this post about Lymphoma, a disease we must beat,
Says I must love cancer if I don’t repost this toute de suite.
It must be my wife carrying some neatly wrapped boxes,
Hey there’s that video about the sound made by foxes,
I can’t get enough of hearing them yelp,
I’m sure my honey will tell me if she needs any help.
Then a whole bunch of statuses appeared in a flurry,
Santa has been sighted! To your window! Please hurry!
I laughed and I scoffed and replied “No thank you, I’ll pass”
And browsed some pictures of Kim Kardashian’s ass.
But Facebook friends rebuked and begged me to look,
But I had no interest in a fat clumsy crook,
Locations of the statuses were all in my town,
But Santa’s not real can we all please calm down?
I decided to end this hysteric aberration,
And get the final truth from the folks at Fox Nation,
You see Santa’s a commie or a socialist at best,
Giving handouts to children at Obama’s behest
As I started a feud between the left and the right,
There was a crack of a whip that gave me a fright,
So I decided to get up and saw tracks of a sleigh,
I guess Facebook was right, it HAD snowed today.
Then it struck what status that I knew I must type,
Before talking to family in the morning on Skype,
The Christmas spirit filled me with joy and delight
“Merry Christmas to all!” Would you all please click Like?
What is this war on Christmas I keep hearing about? Is it real? And if so, how will it lead to the downfall of the United States? My feeling is that both sides of the argument are both a bunch of scrooges, so let’s take a look.
The Ghost of Christmas Past
I am not going to spend a lot of time going into the detail of the origin of Christmas. And when I say origin I don’t mean the birth of
Christ. Scholars agree that he was not born in December. Using December was classic early Christianity. A time when many already celebrated the solstice, Christianity took the day to celebrate the birth of Christ to make it appear as though everyone was celebrating it. A celebration in December goes far back into human history.
Moving closer to the present we see the celebration of St. Nicholas’ day in Early December where gifts are given starts to overtake Christmas as a popular holiday. Martin Luther, hero of the reformation and part-time door abuser, decided that the celebration of St. Nick be moved to Christmas eve, and even suggested that instead of St. Nick bringing presents it was the Christ Child (ChristKindl). I find it interesting that Santa has been usurping Christ for some time. The attempt to have a cherub-like Christ Child deliver gifts didn’t really work. Unknowingly many North Americans mock Martin Luther’s attempt to keep the focus on Christ by calling Santa, Kris Kringle.
It’s important to remember that historically, wishing someone a Merry Christmas was only done on Christmas day and not in the weeks preceding.
Fast forward to the recent past what was life like in America before this war on Christmas? Well anybody who has been around long enough can tell you that corporate America and marketing has been taking over Christmas for some time, and this trend has only continued. The way Black Friday has become so ridiculous in terms of now trumping Thanksgiving is a good example of what I mean. Jesus Christ and St. Nicholas would be turning over in their grave (or heavenly cloud shelter) knowing that the kindness, compassion, and generosity they tried to live their lives in accordance with has been replaced by the stress and greed. So if you haven’t noticed Christ disappearing from Christmas slowly over the past 50 years you haven’t been paying attention.
The Ghost of Christmas Present
So we now live in this age of political correctness and people being easily offended. We also live in a country that has been dominated by
Christianity for some time and has been used to justify slavery, segregation, preventing interracial couples from marrying, and most recently homosexual couples. We’ve never had a non-Christian President, nor does one appear to be electable in the near future. So it’s perhaps not completely out of the question that people might be worried about Christmas being shoved in their face.
That being said, should wishing someone a Merry Christmas really be offensive? In India, even many Muslims celebrate Diwali (the festival of lights) and wishing people a happy Diwali is not a national debate even though there are certainly a diversity of people in that country who may celebrate different holidays. As the American population grows it makes sense that businesses should try to not be exclusionary around this time of year. Hanukah and Kwanza are around this time and you are likely getting time off from work for so this does represent the holiday season. So if you don’t know exactly who you are addressing as a business why not try to be more inclusive in your marketing and advertising.
As individuals though should we really be that offended if someone wishes us a Merry Christmas and we aren’t Christian? Should we call the emergency number at Fox News because our favorite department store now says Happy Holidays and not Merry Christmas? Perhaps I know all the wrong people but any time someone has wished me a Merry Christmas I never got the impression that the subtext was apparently “convert to Christianity you heathen pond scum”. People seem sort of friendly when they say it and have good intentions. I am an atheist but I grew up in Canada and my mom celebrated Christmas so we all did. My memories of Christmas are filled with warmth, togetherness, lots of cookies and chocolates, presents, and decorations. There wasn’t a lot Christ mentioning at Christmas for me but my parents were charitable people, and we often had wayward international students who couldn’t go home for the holidays at our Christmas dinner. I’m pretty sure Christ would be pleased at the way we celebrated his day. One of Jesus’ big things was tolerance. Perhaps getting easily offended isn’t the best way to keep Christ in Christmas.
Holidays are about relaxing. This is something we desperately need to do in a society that doesn’t value leisure time in favor of the pursuit of money. This is a shame because the pursuit of happiness is far more fulfilling.
The Ghost of Christmas Not Yet To Come
So there are two possible futures my dear Scrooges. One involves many angry atheists and other minorities being wished a Merry
Christmas by well meaning people. The years of offense that these poor souls who have been wished a Merry Christmas endured will lead to aneurisms causing us to marvel at the power of two simple words. The angry secular battle will win out in the media, business and government. Everywhere you go there will be signs that say Happy Holidays and you will look up in despair because you know that even though it is the holidays, Jesus has all been forgotten by everybody, except for all the millions upon millions of families who will still be celebrating Christmas in this future which still makes calendars available to the general population. These will not be happy Christmases though because you won’t get to hear about Christ because whenever you turn on the TV it’s just filled with advertisements, trying to convince you to spend your money on presents you don’t really need by a rotund man with a beard that has got to make it difficult to drink a bowl of soup. People in need of help around Christmas won’t get it because after all it’s only the holidays and not Christmas. And since there is no love for Jesus anymore (except for about half of the American population) what is really the point of being nice anybody anymore? What day is it today? The 25th? Oh whatever.
The second choice is to remember that Jesus was a good human regardless about how you feel towards his divinity. He cared for the poor, showed tolerance towards others, and was kind. We should be like this all year, but these qualities are worth celebrating at least once a year. Peace on Earth and good will towards men (and women). What more can summarize the Christmas spirit better? What could honor Jesus better if that is what you believe? Shouldn’t such words be the central tenet of everyone regardless of race or religion? If Christmas is to have any meaning on the 25th or on any day of the year it is in what you do to make things merry for your fellow human and not just saying the words.
So I wish everyone a Merry Christmas! Take time to rest. Spend it with family and loved ones if you have them. Help people as your time and budget allows. If you are feeling sad during the holidays, giving is a great way to fill any emptiness you might feel. Try to spend your time around joyful people, because in this cold and flu season joy is the best contagion worth catching. 🙂
I don’t really understand this hostility to people having to work on Thanksgiving for numerous reasons. First we have very few holidays in this country compared to many other countries. Businesses on average give less holiday time to their workers. Studies show that this does not make us more productive. A rested, lower stressed employee is one that actually works more efficiently.
More importantly though there seems to be some sort of implication that people who don’t want to work on Thanksgiving are lazy . Isn’t it possible they don’t want to work on Thanksgiving because they would like one day where they can be with their family, to celebrate with a warm home cooked meal and be thankful for the blessings they have in life. Doesn’t Thanksgiving have value as a holiday? And what does it say about our society when we devalue a holiday? Is it okay to tell those who work in the retail industry that our right to consume is more important than your right to have family values? We’ve already over-commercialized Christmas, so should we say goodbye to Thanksgiving too? There are other ways stores could compete for business than opening earlier and earlier every year. Many workers may have believed when they took the job that they would get at least certain days off, it’s not realistic to expect them to just go get another job. Shouldn’t corporations have a responsibility to respect the people’s values about tradition and family? Should we let their desire for profit dictate what our values should be?
Let’s face it. It’s not like retail is essential services. Things could not be open on Thanksgiving and we’d get by quite easily. The meme I’ve seen put up that tries to deride Wal-Mart workers for complaining simply because the military have to work through holidays to me is the most troubling. It represents reasoning by false analogy. First, I don’t want our military to work during holidays either, and I’m sure they don’t either. They wish they could be with their families, just as I am sure their families wish they were there for the holidays. If they truly are fighting for our freedoms should we as a society say that Thanksgiving doesn’t really matter so that when they do return home, the very values they served to protect are washed away by consumerism? Perhaps more importantly if you wish to tell retail employees to stop complaining and work because the military do (as well as other emergency services, like police, nurses, firefighters, doctors, etc) do you plan on honoring those people in the same way. As you claw your way through crowds to buy items you don’t really need were you planning on thanking that Wal-Mart employee for working on a holiday so you can get the items you want and save a little money? I doubt anybody thanks them for their service. Are retail employees for corporations some sort of low paid underclass who are only there to serve our needs as consumers? It feels very much like that is the case. The corporation is already disrespecting their values and so it hurts to see so many others disrespecting their values also. And at what point can we start supporting them? When stores open Thanksgiving at 6 pm? 4 pm?
There are more important things in this world than money and material goods. And we have many days in the year to make money and spend it, so what’s wrong with keeping the spirit of a few days a year alive to celebrate friends, family, and have rest?