Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Let's put the 'X' in X-Mas

Just kidding. Although I typically refer to Christmas as Annual Gift Exchange Day, the fact that it is originally a Christian celebration is not lost on me. First and foremost, Christmas was "created" to celebrate the birth of Christ. There's no getting around that and it therefore doesn't surprise me that Christians are on the warpath towards reclaiming "their" holiday as evidenced by this WaPo article about the rising furor surrounding this year's Christmas-less White House Christmas card. (Maybe since W appears to already be settling into his lame-duckedness, he doesn't feel the need to pander to that wing of his constituency can dream.)

However I do believe that Christmas has taken on a parallel secularized significance as an American cultural holiday that still celebrates a lot of good principles but without the sectarian exclusivensss and otherworldly implications of Christian rites. To be sure there is a heaping dash of brash consumerism throughout but even still, non-religious X-Mas celebrations do promote family, charity, and goodwill towards your fellow man. All of these things sound like qualities near and dear to the heart of Christians. But I guess that isn't quite enough.

My point is that Christians are justified in wanting to maintain the original significance of the Christmas holiday but should "allow" others to celebrate the secularized version in whatever way they see fit. Overt displays of an idealized Christian Christmas in the private domain are more than appropriate; demanding that the government or retailers participate as well (under threat of political and consumer action), is not.

Watching A Charlie Brown Christmas last night, for the first time in a couple of years, I realized that I had forgotten what the main theme of that show was. I had always recalled it as another episode of Charlie Brown's incompetence and the general knee-jerk reactions of the kids witnessing his bumblings. But the show's two central themes are really about the malaise that people feel in the run-up to the holidays and the need to focus on the "Christmas spirit" without all of the stressful baggage. However, the show's ideal of the Christmas spirit is in fact that Christian one as expressed by Linus' recitation of the Biblical Christmas story. And as a non-Christian, this didn't bother me one bit.

Maybe it was because I was raised Catholic and still have some latent beliefs, but more likely because it was a simple unobtrusive message delivered by an iconic and friendly figure. I think that is what rampaging Christians should key in on this holiday season. People like James Dobson and organizations such as the Heritage Foundation are politically motivated and have their own narrow interests at heart. Perhaps Christmas Cursaders would be better off to let a true communicator, such as Linus, express their holiday vision. Linus, I can sit and listen to even if I don't want to be sold on the message.


At 11/14/2006 2:16 PM, Anonymous Urbanite said...

Hi. I cam to this from DCVita's post.

2 things: maybe you should rerun this and see what has changed in your thoughts over the past year. I agree, let people call it (and celebrate) Christmas or whatever they want. Contrary to common belief, most athiests are not threatened by the word and some of us even use it. ;)

And second: I think you should do some secular research on Christmas. The word Christmas was created to change the holiday to a celebration of Christ's birth, but it hardly started that way. All of the traditions, and even the date, were carried over from earlier religions, who likely stole the idea from even earlier religions.


Post a Comment

<< Home