I had forgotten about how much it annoyed me last year…’til I saw it this year. There it was, on the back of the SUV. It was the magnetic bumper icon of the manger with the infamous “Keep Christ in Christmas.”
Somehow we spend 11 months not much worried about how the world’s relationship to Christ fairs, but the minute Christmas music starts playing and Black Friday ads go to print the “Keep Christ in Christmas” bumper magnets spread the message across town that there is too much Santa and too little Jesus.
There are 2 witnesses which to testify to society’s relationship with Christ during the Yuletide season: shopping and greetings. (You hopefully read my earlier blog about Christmas shopping and the time that Black Friday is stealing from Thanksgiving.) Shopping and gift giving are tell-tale signs of our attitude.
I heard the classic Christmas parody of the 12 Days of Christmas called the 12 Pains of Christmas. It tells of the dread of Christmas: finding a Christmas tree, the friggin’ lights, hangovers, five months of bills, in-laws, the same ol’ commercials, charities, Christmas carols, Christmas cards, kids, parking, and batteries. Shopping, bills, parking, kids, and all the stuff wrapped into fulfilling the commericalized gift giving expectations are in the same list of problems as is the thing we’ve recently thought is the solution. This song includes verses about the annoyance of charities making their year end plea for donations. Yet, that’s the solution to Consumerismas – charity.
Gift givers are now encouraged to give alternative gifts. Alternate gifts can include a gaggle of geese, sewing machines, or an ox to people from developing countries who can use those gifts to produce food or income for their family. The gift to someone on our shopping list is a gift given in their honor to someone else who actually needs something more than our friend or loved ones needs the Hickory Farms Smokehouse collection or an ugly Christmas sweater. It puts the charity of gift giving back into gift giving.
Now, what do we put on the card? Happy Hanukkah, Merry Christmas, Joyous Kwanzaa, Festive Festivus, Seasons Greetings, or Happy Holidays? I don’t think it makes much difference. My friend Rev. Chris Stark recently posted this to his Facebook wall:
“I don’t understand what the big deal is.
If you are Jewish, tell me: Happy Hanukkah.
If you are Christian, tell me: Merry Christmas.
If you are African American, tell me: Joyous Kwanzaa.
If you don’t prefer those, tell me: Happy Holidays.
I will not be offended.
I will be thankful that you took the time to say something nice to me.”
The Reddit writer captured my sentiment about the dilemma. (I have an earlier post about platitudes if you want to read that.) I am going to enjoy my holiday regardless of what you call it. I am simply glad that you took the time to acknowledge the holiday season in greeting me. Christ is going to be in my Christmas because I worship God made flesh who dwelt among us. Someone else is not going to have a blue Christmas just because I told them Happy Holidays.
It seems to me that if we Christians spent more time making sure Christ was in the lives of others during the other 11 months of the calendar year, we wouldn’t have a holier than thou holiday attitude. If we took the discipleship value of evangelism seriously, there would be more Christians next year to greet us with a “Merry Christmas.” Wouldn’t keeping Christ on our lips throughout the year be more fruitful than a bumper sticker in December?
St. Paule xhorts the church in Hebrews 13: 15: “Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise—the fruit of lips that openly profess his name.” Let’s praise God’s holy name and profess our faith in Christ daily. Hopefully, then, we’ll avoid coming up with catchy slogans to keep Christ on the cross at Easter.
May you have a happy, merry, and joyous Christmahanakwanzfestivus,