Friday, December 02, 2005

Christmas Be Thy Name

Due to some sort of evil joke our home email is the recipient of the American Family Association’s daily email newsletters. (Digression: NO, I will not link their site. YES, I have tried to unsubscribe; when attempted it says that email address does not exist in their files therefore they cannot unsubscribe it. YES, I am looking forward to who may ‘Google search’ their way here thanks to me stating their name in the post. - End of Digression)
Their emails come in about who they are boycotting now and I can never even make it past the first sentence before I am disgusted, sad, and near puking from their mega-judgments and lack of compassion, inclusiveness and those two crazy notions of grace and love.

So when they sent out an email about boycotting various national chains of stores because they refused to use the word ‘Christmas’ in their advertising, I immediately sought out the opposing point of view.

Here is what I came up with:
1) In God’s sense of time – meaning eternal – this is not a big deal. The Eternal Kingdom is the goal, not winning earthly arguments over advertising language.

2) I think God would like us to put our energies into searching for means of peace, sheltering the homeless and reaching out to those in need. I think God might be thinking, “Um, thanks for caring about the name of Christmas, but if y’all could send some aid and figure out the whole Darfur mess you have largely been ignoring – that would be great.”

3) Isn’t this a good thing? As Christians we are not supposed to be ‘wrapped up’ in the retail part of the holiday anyway. As the tracts that my in-laws insist on giving me in their Christmas card every year tells me, "Jesus is the reason for the season" - not tinsel and lights and the latest Hallmark ornament. Is this not what every pastor preaches about at least once per Advent?

These are all great (she humbly typed) but here is where I am now.


Please hear me out:
I understand that when putting up a retail display that encapsulates the entire November 1st through January 1st frenzy that you might want to say, “Holiday Sale”. This way you are including: Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Junior’s December birthday, New Year’s and any other reason to celebrate people might come up with (I believe Richard Branson is now calling it 'Chrismahanukwanzakah. He is actually marketing ornaments with this saying on it - but that is a rant for another day).

However, when you market Christmas Trees as Holiday Trees THAT IS JUST STUPID!!!

It is what it is and that is a Christmas Tree.

Don’t believe me? Ask a child brought up by folks who do not believe in the religion behind Christmas who was born that day and they might not know. Ask them what that thing in the window is with the green needles and covered in lights and ornaments and I am pretty sure they are going to say: CHRISTMAS TREE!!!

I am not a huge fan of Halloween, but if they started calling it Black and Orange candy instead of Halloween candy I would find that stupid too.

It may be deserved backlash against the current political culture that is masquerading as Christianity (not my Christianity, thank you very much). However, it is STILL stupid. And thank you VERY much for giving me reason to line up in agreement with the likes of Falwell and Robertson - although I am SURE they will take it too far and then once again I can step out of line (actually this has already happened. I have waited far too long for the new Target that is opening soon right near me to go and boycott it now. And I gotta tell you, we are diligent about giving to charities throughout the year and exist on a very strict budget so I don't mind missing the guiltfest that is passing a Salvation Army bell ringer without putting any money in the pot).

The sad part is that it is not just stupid. It is also discrimination. Do not take my word for it though. Check out this editorial found in the Boston Globe written by their columnist, Jeff Jacoby, a practicing Jew. If nothing else check out his last paragraph.

There, I've said it. I am looking forward to your comments whether they agree or disagree. In the meantime, please enjoy this Holiday Time and for God's sake:



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

Heh. Last year, Laura was upset that some commercial had insinuated that Santa was the reason for the season. I told her I thought it was dumb to get all in a tizzy over that.

This year, when I told her how annoyed I was that the name "Christmas" is being dropped, she yelled at me that she didn't understand why her objection was 'dumb' and mine wasn't.

I'll go direct her to read this ; )

Thanks for posting it.

Songbird said...

I agree with you down the line. I guess the most important thing to my pointy little inclusive-minded head is not to be rigid. To insist that stores use signs that say Merry Christmas, as opposed to Happy Holidays, is rigid. To call them Holiday trees, however, is just ridiculous. I want to include all the holidays in my greetings and good thoughts; eliminating mine from the listing does not accomplish the purpose intended.

will smama said...

I'm right with you Songbird. Get them all in there if you want, don't if you don't - but don't be stupid and litigious about it.

By the way, instead of boycotting anything I am going to do the opposite: buy as much as I can that says 'Christmas' on it. We have a holiday shower curtain, very Christmassy, but it doesn't say the word. From now on I will only purchase holiday items that say Christmas.

That'll show 'em (sarcasm dripping).

MZ said...

Ut oh...I just realized the Christmas cards I am sending this year say 'Holiday greetings'...I would throw them all out but I just spent two weeks making them!

In my defense...the all-encompassing holiday stamp set doesn't have a single thing with the word "Christmas" in it!!

Quotidian Grace said...

I couldn't agree with you more. Not calling a Christmas tree a Christmas tree is beyond stupid. What? Following this logic, we should call a dreidel a "holiday top" or a menorah "holiday candelabra"!

reverendmother said...

Geez. There's no side of this that's not stupid. Holiday trees are stupid. Yammering about the War on Christmas is stupid, not to mention offensive, given that there's an ACTUAL war on, one in which people are, you know, dying.

I went to the American Family Association website (and need a shower now, by the way), and was all ready to discover that these companies are banning and punishing employees for wishing customers a Merry Christmas. *That* would be religious discrimination, and *that* I could go with.

But no, their FAQ says explicitly that "We recognize most stores’ stated policy allows their employees to greet customers however they choose. We are focusing on companies that are being politically correct and do not use the word “Christmas” in their in-store promotions and advertising while making the bulk of their profit off the celebrated Christmas holiday."

So we really don't care that companies give their employees the latitude to wish customer Merry Christmas OR Happy Holidays. No, we just want to be *acknowledged* as the *reason* why these companies make their end-of-year projections! We want *credit* for being the locusts, I mean consuming power, that we are.

OK, apparently 96 percent of people celebrate Christmas. I would quibble with that stat, but whatever. And hospitality is a Christian spiritual discipline. That's why it wouldn't bother me to have a *Holiday* Party if I worked in a secular office. Because it acknowledges that even though I am in the majority, that other people matter. It's hospitable, and it *costs me nothing* to make that change. I know what holiday I celebrate. Are we all so insecure in our faith that we continually need it validated when *we're still the majority*?

Not to mention the fact that people are all up in arms about the appropriateness and palatability of these companies' corporate speech, yet when the next election comes around, and these "corporate citizens" are giving obscene millions to both Republicans AND Democrats--when it would be worthwhile to discuss whether such "corporate speech" is good for our society, the American Family Association will be conveniently occupied elsewhere.

Seasons Greetings.

End of rant.

will smama said...

Well said, rm, well said.

Leslee said...

Good grief. Calling a Christmas Tree a Holiday Tree is stupid. Just plain and simple stupid.

When I worked in retail I would tell people, "happy holidays" because I wanted to be sinsitive to their religious beliefs. It's not like I had time to find out if they celebrated Christmas, Kwanza, Hanukkah, or whatever! But I always called a Christmas Tree a Christmas Tree.

I don't have time to boycott these places just because they're stupid. Sorry, but that sounds like a dumb idea to me. Kinda like boycotting getting gas on a certain day to lower gas prices. I'm just not going to participate in things I think is dumb dumb dumb!

Lorna said...

Jeff Jakoby's editorial is wonderful. I so enjoyed reading it :)

imagine the Finnish word for Christmas is joulu and the word for December is joulukuu (Christmas month) ... GRIN :)

There are times when I am SO GLAD to live in Finland like when reading about squabbles like this!

BTW a Christmas tree is joulupuu
and we eat rice pudding called joulupuuro at this time of year, and the ham on the table on the 24 is called joulukinkku etc etc

Yeah I think in this instance the Finns have got it right. If you don't want to celebrate the birth of Christ - then don't have Christmas.

benb said...

I receive the AFA newsletter as well, unlike you, I am in agreement with their assessments. I have gone to the websites that they are banning, in every case that I have checked out, the ads totally reject the word Christmas and use either Holiday or Season instead. What I would like to ask these companies is, if they aren't going to use the name Christmas, which traditionally is TOTALLY what this "holiday" is all about, at least in the American tradition, then WHAT holiday are they referring to?
Your argument that we should instead - should basically be attempting to find ways to expand the Kingdom of Heaven fall short, as far as I'm concerned. My opinion is that the name Christmas is summarily rejected because the name of CHRIST is being rejected.
While Christians allow themselves to be walked on like doormats at an entryway, the little people with the big mouths are making huge gains in removing God, Christ and anything else to do with even the concept of a god out of schools, public buildings, courtrooms, and anything else they are able to win their version of a victory at. I don't remember Christ preaching a lame Gospel, in terms of defying authority and going into the synagogues, neither did his disciples.
Christians need to get it through their heads that there IS no world peace and there is not going to BE any world peace until the return of Christ. You can have inner peace through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit and receiving Christ as your Savior, and I think that is really the only thing you NEED.
I simply do not subscribe to the theorem that we should just keep our mouths shut.
And, I already have taken in the homeless, I actually have 2 homeless people LIVING with me right now, and am about to transport over another one - I am only referring to your statements of what you believe we really should be focusing on, but in reality, it's a comparison of apples and oranges. One can undertake the helping of the poor and needy while at the same time undertaking other "projects" that are just as valuable in time and energy spent.