I’ve been having a lot of fun with the absurd “War on Christmas” narrative that rises up from the cynical, the indignant, and the cynically indignant, each year. It seems like I just can’t get away from the subject, and here I go again.
You’ll probably be surprised to discover that among the hundreds of blogs I try to follow–out of interest and out of reciprocation–a few of them are religious, spiritual, and/or devotional in tone. I don’t follow everyone who follows me, mind you; if a blog is poorly made, poorly written, offensive, or even annoying, I don’t follow it long. I like to hear voices contrary to my own, perspectives I might not understand otherwise.
What I’ve noticed in reading some of the Christian blogs I follow, and the comments on their posts, is an undercurrent of negativity manifested in a competitiveness based on who can have the most dour and subdued Christmas. The argument often includes a “we celebrate God and we love Jesus EVERY DAY” subtext that hints of wielding their seasonal stoicism as a weapon employed to assert spiritual superiority.
We don’t bake cookies! We don’t listen to Christmas music except for hymns! I told my children that Santa wasn’t real, but that Jesus was.
Was Jesus that big of a sourpuss? I doubt it. On my birthday, my family treats me like I’m a way bigger King of The World than that guy on the Titanic–an entire day of exaggerated honor from the people who love me despite knowing all my imperfections. I kind of think that Christians, who believe Jesus actually was King, Lord, Prince of Peace, etc. and that he was also, unquestionably, unarguably, literally perfect might actually be down with the idea of whooping it up for a month. Seems like the least they could do.
We took home a tree that is easily 6′ around and close to 9′ tall–a massive fraser fir that just fit into our living room after I sawed off 4 inches at the bottom and did a little snipping at the top. It is a little bit ridiculous, but my family knows the routine: we require the biggest tree we can find that fits into the house. I’m fond of saying, “a proper Christmas tree needs to have great presence.” Get it?
This is my philosophy about Christmas in general. Why bake a single batch of 36 sugar cookies when it’s just as easy to bake a double batch? Or a triple batch? Why limit our party to a manageable number, when there are more than 50 people we love that merit invitations. 70 is good–if it gets too crowded, people will leave early–or go out on the porches. Consider the official beverage of Christmas: eggnog. Milk and eggs and sugar–that you mix with booze. If God didn’t want us to whoop it up, he wouldn’t have given us eggnog. That’s in the bible. Look it up.
Christmas isn’t the kind of thing one should approach with reserve, nor the kind of thing you want to be half-assed about. At Christmas, I am ALL-ASSED. All the time.
I’m an atheist, and while that might drive you to think “Ah, there it is,” let me tell you that my kids have known the score since Day 1–we have religious Christmas books, I’ve read to them from St. Luke–just like the preacher did when I was a kid–we set up a manger and have Jesus at the center of the season because, while I may not believe all the supernatural elements of his–er, His–story, it is not only central to our society, but central to my own morality. Whether myth, metaphor, or magic, Jesus was awesome–hanging out with the down and the outcast, turning tables on the capitalists, pissing off the establishment and generally sticking it to the man. I honor that, and lament that our society–especially those droning on about the War On Christmas–conveniently ignore the fact that their milky white savior was actually a brown-skinned badass rebel more likely to get his head cracked open while protesting than he would be hanging around the folks who get worked up over loving the “wrong” people or building walls around our country to keep folks who look like Him out.
Christmas is for celebration, joy, wonder, ecstatic excitement over the birth of a savior–it is about potential, and sharing, and optimism, and hugging friends, and…need I go on? Christmas ain’t Easter–there need be nothing solemn about his holiday, and if we stretch it from Thankgiving to Epiphany, the more the better. It all ought to be a party. It sure is at our house.
And finally, while I may start out with “Happy Holidays” the day before Thanksgiving, I say Merry Christmas more and more the closer we get to Christmas–unless I know it’s going to offend, which is rare. As a Muslim friend of mine said a few years ago, “I don’t mind being wished a Merry Christmas–I still hope to be alive on December 25, and I’d prefer to be merry that day and every day.” Bingo.