12.19.2005

Seasonal Musings

While roaming the blogosphere aimlessly this weekend I stumbled across some new and interesting sites. (Yes, I've become addicted to Michele's site - if you like finding new reads and you've not visited her yet you owe it to yourself to take the trip.) Anyway, I digress. . .

At one of my stops this weekend I came across Joe's entry on "War on Christmas." Something about it itched my little brain and finally this morning it hit me. I knew I wanted to respond to it. So now I will. Now granted, I can't respond for everyone and anyone that ever grumbled about "Holiday" over "Christmas." Take this rant for what it's worth - just my very own not so humble two cents.

First, let's clarify something. I have no problem with the store clerk that says "Happy Holidays" as I complete my transaction. Clearly this is a season of many holidays and unless we start wearing signs that say "I'm celebrating x" I think it's highly appropriate, not to mention considerate, for the complete stranger to take the generic route. If nothing else, regardless of which religious association you're linking up with, you've got your primary holiday AND New Year. Therefore unless you're crawling under a rock to celebrate nothing, you've got two holidays in close proximity no matter what you are. So again, the generic "Happy Holidays" ought to be uttered.

What I do have a problem with, however, is the stripping of Christmas from things that are purely Christmas. Let's face it, my Jewish cousins (and I do mean actual cousins, I'm not being figurative) are not chopping down an evergreen and decorating it in their living room this month. Anyone celebrating Kwanzaa is not decking the halls with boughs of holly. The pine tree is purely a Christmas element. It is *not* a "holiday tree" - it is a Christmas tree and there is not a single reason that I can think of that we need to publically pretend it's otherwise. Likewise, cartoons specials airing this time of year aren't often "holiday specials" if they're dabbling in Santa's and Drummer boys. Call it what it is and give up the PC fear.

It is not "X-mas" it is Christmas. If roughly 90% of Americans (which is the last stat I saw quoted somewhere) identify themsevles as Christian then it's safe to assume the vast majority of folks celebrating the Christmas are not aethist in it for the materialistic gifting aspect. Removing "Christ" from Christmas is catering to a fraction of the populous. If someone is offended by the religious component of a religious holiday they ought not celebrate it. Happy Festivus to them. Leave Christmas as it is.

If Mega-department store wants to bid me a happy holiday, I'll wish them one right back. If they want me to buy a holiday tree, well I'll make my purchase elsewhere.
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In other holiday related musings - my last entry about sharing the season with my best friend appears to have generated a sometimes emotional response. Seriously, I think my parents have the same opinion I do on exposure to different beliefs and cultures. How can we honestly make a choice in what we believe if we don't know what our options are?

When I was a young confirmant (about 14 years old) Pastor E insisted we attend services of other religions. I'm Presbyterian. We went to a Catholic service. We visited the Methodist, the Lutherans, the Baptist, not to mention the local synagogue. I think if one had been established in our town in the late 80s, we'd have gone to the mosque too. He believed that in order for us to stand in front of the congregation and honestly say that yes, we wanted to be a member here and within this faith, we needed to know what we were saying. We needed to understand what made our church different from others. We needed to understand the administration differences as well as the basic core beliefs that set us apart from others (or not as the case may be.)

Personally, I think that pastor was a wise man. I also believe that the God I believe in wants me to be compassionate and understanding of all people - not just the ones I see on a Sunday morning. For me,part of being a good Christian isn't to force others to conform, it's to love them for who they are without worrying about what they are. I believe a relationship with a Higher Power, no matter what you call it, is a personal one. It's up to you and he/she to define. Not me.

I'm in danger of rambling and so I'll stop. I think I've blathered on enough for those that have stuck with it to have enough of an idea where I'm coming from. Thanks for humoring me. And oh, happy holidays. ;)

9 comments:

jane said...

I absolutely love the design & colors of your blog.
Something I've recently learned, the X in Xmas gets its origin from the Greek letter X which means "Christ." Obviously nowadays, people use it to shorten the word.
This was an interesting post. I made a blog entry about this subject & have read quite a few on this. It's interesting to see what everybody thinks about this year's controversial issue.
I agree about the Christmas tree thing, I can't believe it's a holiday tree some places. Just sounds funny.
I kinda like Festuvus for the rest of us. :)

MIssMeliss said...

I have a Christmas tree - it's fake, but doesn't make me sneeze. I ALSO have a holiday tree, which is a ficus plant in my kitchen that gets adorned for Easter, Halloween, or just because (but only in teeny doses, and not every year.)

As a life-long agnostic who only recently joined the Episcopalian church, I see this issues from both sides. On the one hand, I have a problem with public schools singing ONLY Christmas songs, or doing pieces of the Magnificat. On the other, I think de-Christmasizing Christmas is just stupid.

HOWEVER, the generic "Happy Holidays" wish is NOT a war on Christmas, but, as you said, a safe generic. We live in a multicultural world, and respect is an important part of that.

This is my second visit here, and my original intent was just to say, "Hello, Michele sent me," and compliment your colors, but now I'll definitely have to poke around some more.

dan said...

Judge not lest ye be judged.

Best lesson in the whole book. ;)

a113n said...

You've summed up a lot of my sentiments quite eloquently (and probably as verbosely as I would have myself). I am in complete agreement [and disagreement with my wife] over experiencing other religious options, particularlly for our children. I am actually a recent Christian (I believe they call it born-again) convert, but I have thoroughly (based on my own definition) explored other religions, even those that my current Christian comrades would consider heresy. There's a lot in this world to experience, and I believe it's pivotal to maintain and atmosphere to openness--because if we are truly in the right, then our children will see the truth just as we do.

thatgirl said...

Thank you. People get their flippin' panties in a twist and all of a sudden, goodbye logic.

kontan said...

i really have no problem with the happy holidays greetings. for me it encompasses thanskgiving, Christmas, and new year's. but it can also recognize that not everyone celebrates the same holiday. i think the proponents of the happy holidays campaign have a point, at least to a degree. (i am very familiar with the organization, but will stay neutral here) i like the way you put it...if you are wished a happy holiday, wish it back. . . my hubby bought something on line today but had to complete a phone order...as he finished chic said happy holidays, he responds merry Christmas. no big, no issue. but no, i have no desire to buy a holiday tree. recognize it for what it is, a Christmas tree.

as for the X-mas thing, there are various opinions on this one...from the meaning of X to various other. i'll spare you the history, but google it sometime.

sorry to ramble, kontan jou!

Joe said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Joe said...

The X for Christ has a very interesting history. It is in no way an attempt to "X" Christ out. It an simply an abbreviation for the word for Christ. It is just simply shorthand (like the other symbols in Christianity). My old Bible professor (who is very conservative) would use the X for Christ when he ran out of room on the chalkboard of our test papers. I am sure some use it to mark out Christ. But they are uninformed as to its history.

You may also want to look up the history of the Christmas tree. It is a pagan little item that Christians seem to have no problem with.

Another interesting fact is that Christ's birthday was not celebrated by the early church. It was not celebrated for hundreds of years by the Church. It was not until 350 AD that that the Church started celebrating it.

Pope Julius I set aside Dec. 25 as Christ's birthday. However, Christ was certainly not born on this date. So why was Dec. 25 choosen? It was a marketing ploy. Dec. 25 was the pagan celebration for the birth of the sun (this goes back for hundreds, if not thousands, of years pre-Christ. Dec. 25 had long been a day set aside by Pagans to honor the sun). So the Pope coopted it as a way to attract Pagans to Christianity and to give the Christian faith a rival holiday to that of the Pagans. So the pagan birth of the "sun" holiday became the Christian birth of the "Son" holiday.

Just some interesting tidbits to keep in mind when someone says "Remember the true meaning of Christmas". :)

Merry Christmas to you and yours

Joe said...

Forgot to mention that I thought you post was good and well thought out. I like what your pastor made you all do. Very wise indeed.

Thanks for stopping by my blog!