It happens every year. The rumblings spread across Facebook, clever church marquees, and various forms of advertising. "Keep Christ in Christmas!" Everyone seems so worried that outsiders are trying to put the kibosh on their holiday that they issue a pre-emptive strike. They warn that utterings of "happy holidays" will be dealt with swiftly and mercilessly.
For all the times I have heard "Keep Christ in Christmas," I have never heard a non-Christian say, "Take Christ out of Christmas!" Not once. Sure, some of the atheist organizations put up the occasional billboard to get people riled up, but even many atheists celebrate Christmas. I've spotted a few "XMAS Trees" signs at tree lots, but I think that's more about laziness (and perhaps the limitations of a spray-painted hunk of plywood) than sacrilege. I think the war on Christmas has been greatly exaggerated.
Keep in mind that only around one-third of the earth's population is Christian. I'm not good at math, but I believe that statistic also indicates that two-thirds of the planet is not Christian. Many non-Christians, particularly in the U.S., are practically forced to acknowledge Christmas whether they want to or not. Can they go grocery shopping on December 25th? Probably not. Even if Christmas is not a holy day for a given individual, they've probably got the day off work and have been doused in Christmas carols and cookies for weeks on end. So, I just don't see how someone can simultaneously say, "CELEBRATE MY HOLIDAY, DAMMIT!" and "DON'T YOU DARE CELEBRATE MY HOLIDAY IF YOU DON'T BELIEVE EXACTLY WHAT I BELIEVE!"
When you check out at Target and an employee offers a cheerful, "Happy Holidays!" this is not tantamount to saying, "Take Christ out of Christmas." A quick glance at a calendar reveals that there are, in fact, multiple holidays occurring this time of year, starting with Thanksgiving and stretching through to New Year's Day. Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, and the winter solstice also fall in that time span. And, of course, Christmas. (See, it's a whole bunch; that's why we call this period "the holidays.") The lady at Target can't tell just by looking at me whether I am Christian or Jewish or Muslim. I'm not offended by "Happy Holidays" any more than I'd be offended by "Happy Hanukkah." If you want to blame someone for turning Christmas into a commercial holiday, blame the retailers. But then, we'd also have to blame ourselves for succumbing to it (I was at Black Friday like a jackass, too, so I am not pointing any fingers here).
A wise friend pointed out to me that we're all on the same planet and that we should focus more on inclusion than divisiveness. She happens to be Buddhist (and is not in any way offended when people wish her a Merry Christmas). I'm a Unitarian Universalist, but I happen to be a big fan of Jesus, too (and yes, I celebrate his birth). Christians are supposed to be loving and tolerant, so who cares if others celebrate the holiday as they wish?
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