Saturday, January 07, 2006
Thank God the season is finally over, and we can stop hearing these blowhards prattling on about The War on Christmas (yes, Fox News Channel, I’m looking at you).
Look, nobody is trying to phase out or overlook the fact that December 25th is the day celebrated throughout the world as Christmas. Even though most theologians are pretty sure that Jesus wasn’t born on that date, it’s the day that’s been picked to coincide with the Pagan ritual celebrating the Winter Solstice, so that’s what we do. The funny thing is that people who don’t really practice their religion still setup trees, decorate the house, and give presents. The larger message is that it is a time of year where people try (not always successfully) to be a little bit nicer, a bit more tolerant of others, and try to spread some peace. Seems like most follow the spirit of the season, even if they don’t necessarily follow the letter of the law regarding the religious practice.
America, however, though still predominantly Christian, has undergone a degree of cultural change over the past twenty years or so. Immigration brought more people to our shores who were of different cultures and religions. Political Correctness came into vogue, and while the underlying message is sensitivity and tolerance of others, it has gotten way out of hand, like most well intentioned efforts. Any comment made about anyone, no matter how innocuos, causes a chorus of whining about Racism, Sexism, or any other -ism you can imagine. One familiar complaint is that the only acceptable form of bashing left is bashing Catholics in particular (or Christians in general). The Religious Right, which wields waaayy too much influence in this country to begin with, seemingly won’t be happy until everyone turns into a Southern Baptist, while giving their cash to Pat Robertson. Honestly, for a group of people who are (still, for now) the majority religion in this country, and for the most part have it preetty good, we Christians sure are good at whining about how bad things are and how everyone is against us. Where the hell does that come from, anyway?
Back to this recent Holiday Season, it seems like the crybabies are missing the larger point in play here. Look, stores like K-Mart and Target are not stupid. Heartless corporate bastards, perhaps, but not dumb ones. The decision to greet shoppers with a more generic “Happy Holidays” was a marketing decision, pure and simple. They understand that we have become a much more diverse country, with recent immigrants who may or may not celebrate Christmas. Rather than risk alienating a customer, whom the store would like to have return at some point, they chose to play it safe. Imagine, for a moment, if they decided to say “Happy Chanukahuh” or “Happy Kwanzaa” or heaven forbid, “Have a great Ramadan” to a hard core religious right person – I’m thinking lawsuits would be in order. Lost amidst all this is the irony that those people who complain the loudest about how commercial Christmas has become are whining about being disrespected while...shopping.
Everyone needs to relax. We have real problems in this country, over and above the language people use when trying to be nice to one another. Accept whatever greeting you’re given, smile, say “You, too” move on, and do something nice for somebody else. Isn’t that what Jesus would have done?