It’s the most wonderful time of the year! With the kids jingle belling and everyone telling you, “Be of good cheer, and get your hands off my Xbox, or I will pepper spray you!” Seriously, people.
Christmas is 23 days away, and I don’t think I’ve ever had more trouble trying to muster some Christmas spirit. I want to, but I’ve got a lot of static happening in my head due to the things I’m seeing around me. Reading stories about pepper-spraying shoppers is, for obvious reasons, disheartening, but there’s something else I want to address--something that bothered me a little bit at first and has now begun to consume my thoughts.
We’ve all seen things like this on shop windows and church signs and in our Facebook feeds in the last couple of weeks:
People have sent me email forwards with awful songs about keeping Christ in Christmas--one of which actually revolves around the idea that if a store doesn’t have “Merry Christmas” on their sign instead of “Happy Holidays,” we shouldn’t shop at that store.
I am a Christian. I celebrate Christmas. And I certainly understand the sentiment behind statements like “Jesus is the reason for the season.” HOWEVER, and that is a big however, I am troubled by the spirit behind some of the keep Christ in Christmas fervor.
First let’s address the whole Xmas issue. Some scholars point to the use of X in place of Christ as derivative of “chi,” the first letter of Christ in Greek. There isn’t complete agreement on that, but it’s a nice thought either way. What we do know for sure is that Xmas was definitely appearing around the time that Johannes Gutenberg invented the printing press. Somewhere around the year 1440. 1440. You got that? Almost 600 years ago. Why? Because it’s easier to place one letter in type than six, and arguably “X” was chosen because it was the first letter of the Greek form of Christ.
So, all of this hubbub (that’s the nicest word I can think to use here) about the “war on Christmas” is hogwash (do I sound grinchy enough?). Xmas is NOT a new phenomenon, despite what some people want us to think. It is not a marketing ploy by the PC police to wipe Christianity off the face of the earth or out of America at the very least. In fact, it doesn’t even do anything to the meaning of Christmas. Do you still know what someone means when they write/type Merry Xmas? Then, the meaning isn’t gone.
For God’s sake, the same people who are in a huff over Xmas feel completely fine with updating their FB status to something along the lines of “I hope u all can come by r house l8r tn 4 B’s party!” Abbreviations, people.
While I understand that some Christians feel as if their civil rights are being affected by our pluralistic society, that is not what is happening with Xmas.
So, let’s address this crazy anger that people seem to have over the substitution of “Happy Holidays” over “Merry Christmas.” I was going to write a section about this, but then my friend Sarah posted THIS on Facebook. Please read it. I couldn’t have said it better.
So, Christmas or Xmas? Whatever. Happy holidays or Merry Christmas? Whatever.
I believe in the redemptive power of God’s love. In banding together in hard times. I believe in simplicity. And new beginnings. I believe in all of these things that are represented by the Christ child’s entrance into the world. And you know what else I believe? I believe what Christ said later in his life. Christ taught that God’s love is boundless and that his grace is sufficient for all people. EVERYONE.
So, when Xians start getting angry about someone stealing their holiday, I want to scream, “IT’S NOT YOUR HOLIDAY! IT’S FOR EVERYONE! DIDN’T YOU HEAR WHAT JESUS SAID?”
Minimizing our faith to arguments over semantics serves no one and is, in fact, completely devoid of God’s spirit and love. No one is going to be drawn to God when his people argue about things that Don’t. Matter. At. All.
So, think on that. Has someone really stolen your Christmas? Or are YOU the one letting Christmas become something it wasn’t intended to be?
Merry Xmas and happy holidays to all my friends, Xian and non-Xian alike.