Friday, December 24, 2004

The War on Christmas

The media’s latest “flavor of the month” is the supposed “war on Christmas”. Apparently, heathen, atheistic liberals have removed all vestiges of Jesus from a holiday that had long ago been divested of its higher meaning.

Like the misreporting on the war in Iraq, particularly in the early days of fighting, the inability of the press to hold President Bush to standards of journalism applied to other presidents, and recently, the bogus “red state/blue state” divide in America, the media in all its traditional functions keeps missing the real stories.

Christians have taken up the torch and are once more playing a role that they seem most comfortable in—that of the poor, persecuted believer.

The last time I drove around, I didn’t see any lack of Christmas lights, nativity scenes, and other symbols and decorations specific to Christmas.

While I have nothing against anyone celebrating Christmas, I also recognize that not everyone is a Christian in America, and that others may celebrate this holiday in ways that don’t include Jesus.

This entire faux battle about the religious importance of Christmas isn’t new to me. I remember in 1982, I had just left the University of Maine and was back in my hometown looking for a car. I stopped by a gas station on Lisbon Street where the proprietor had used one of those spray cans that dispense white lettering for windows; in great big letters, he had the following message—“Jesus is the reason for the season”. The owner felt it was his duty to talk about Jesus with everyone who entered his business. I stopped in and had to listen to his spiel about the secularization of Christmas until I couldn’t take it any longer and left. The issue wasn’t big news at the time, because the media hadn’t seized upon the issue. For years, many Christians have claimed Christmas as their domain. While I don’t begrudge their right to celebrate, unfortunately, they are often played by religious leaders and others as pawns in this ongoing culture war that is a myth.

America is a diverse and multicultural nation, despite what the pundits and hate talkers ridiculously assert. Because of this, the holiday season, beginning from Thanksgiving through New Years, isn’t the property solely of the religious right and others who revel in the need to create pitched battles that benefit their bottom line. All this does is keep America divided at a time when we need to begin pulling together against our real enemies.

I close by saying that the Baumer household does celebrate Christmas, albeit in a very un-American, non-consumer sort of way. We buy hardly any gifts, other than the occasional item of clothing for family members in need.

Last year, we decided on creating our own traditions as a self-contained unit of three, due primarily to the unpredictable holiday celebrations of our extended families. As a result, my wife and I hold an open house Christmas Eve, which we have jokingly dubbed, "the misfits Christmas Eve celebration". We extend invitations to family (who usually don't come), friends, and others who might be looking for a place to get a meal, a cup of grog, and experience a festive celebration that is similar to what I remember the holidays being when I was a kid—a time when family and friends came together and enjoyed one another’s company. I think we need a whole lot more of this type of Christmas, or holdiday spirit, don't you?

To all my readers, I want to take this opportunity to wish you and yours a very festive and happy holiday in whatever way you choose to celebrate it.

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