There has been a politically correct Christmas greeting that has circulated the internet for the past couple of years.
Best wishes for an environmentally conscious, socially responsible, low stress, non-addictive, gender neutral, winter solstice holiday, practiced within the most joyous traditions of the religious persuasion of your choice, but with respect for the religious persuasion of others who choose to practice their own religion as well as those who choose not to practice a religion at all.
Perhaps that should be adopted as official “safe“ greeting for retailers this Christmas season. Target has been widely vilified for allegedly forbidding their employees from saying Merry Christmas. It turns out that was not exactly true. The story is now widely circulated and it has become another example of how too many Christians leap before we look in response to cultural issues. Please, please, please verify every email and petition for validity before you hit send.
What Target has done is cleansed their website of every Christmas reference. They even list shipping deadlines to get gifts to their destination by the 25th. Target can’t even bring themselves to identify that day as Christmas. I find it all an odd mix of amusing and confusing and maddening.
I suppose you can make an argument for the separation of church and state although in practice the goal seems to be the amputation of church and state. But for retailers to wrap Christmas in a brown paper wrapper like it is offensive material makes no sense to me.
When I move into a culture I don’t expect the entire populace to change for me. Perhaps I should and this will be my test case. I grew up in Ohio as an avid Cleveland Browns fan. Being a Browns fan is a chronic disease for which there is no known cure. When I moved to Dallas I was immediately offended by the aggressive Dallas Cowboy fans. Cowboy stuff was everywhere including in the public square. Politicians endorsed the Cowboys. Cowboy zealots tried to proselytize me to become a Cowboy fan. They inferred that having faith in the Browns made me a second class citizen. The Cowboys were clearly the football religion of the state and the iconography was everywhere. I was offended.
Now I believe that my rights as a Browns fan are being violated. I fear my kids exposure to the Cowboys star will cause them to be Cowboys fans. I am greatly offended when I go to the mall and somebody says, “How ‘bout dem Boys”! I want all stores to simply display “Go NFL Teams” signs and greet me with a “Happy Football” greeting…no more exclusionary “Go Cowboys” language.
Silly isn’t it? But is the Christmas argument any different? I am all for being inclusive. Have a Hannukah display. Put up a Kwanza sign. Throw in Happy Holidays for the atheists and agnostics and people of other faiths. But mix in a Merry Christmas. The holiday is called Christmas.
For the most part Christmas has become an economic and not a religious holiday. There are so many icons like Santa Claus and Rudolph and the Grinch that are not at all related to the religious aspect of the Holiday. I just find it hard to comprehend the argument that a nativity scene or a Merry Christmas sign is oppressive in this vast landscape of Holiday icons.
Oddly one of the most powerful reminders of the Christian importance of Christmas comes from the genius of the late Charles Schultz. His classic show A Charlie Brown Christmas has a simple, elegant, and classic message. Charlie Brown has failed miserably in his attempt to find the true meaning of Christmas. But then Linus reads the following passage from the King James version of the Bible.
And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.
And then Linus says to Charlie Brown, “That’s what Christmas is all about, Charlie Brown.”
Amen. And by the way….Merry Christmas. Merry Christmas. Merry Christmas.