By Ferrell Foster
A friend of mine works for a company that doesn’t allow him to say, “merry Christmas.” Forgive me, but that seems kind of ridiculous. It also seems equally ridiculous to me when “merry Christmas” users get bent out of shape over “happy holidays.”
It reminds me of the Eagles song, “Get Over It.”
I say, “merry Christmas,” but I also often tack on, “and happy holidays,” in order to not cause offense. Both seem to be really nice greetings. And let’s be honest, “Christmas” is simply not the sole property of Christians, whether or not we Christians like it.
In this cultural situation, most people have some kind of Christmas memories or celebration. For many of us it is related to our religious practice, for others Christmas is less religious and more secular or cultural.
For instance, Santa Claus, Frosty the Snowman, Rudolph, the Grinch, and other Christmas icons have no religious significance. Santa has a weak connection to the Christian Saint Nicholas, but the Santa of today is never positioned as a religious figure in the broader culture.
As a result, “Christmas” stands for both a religious and a cultural celebration. Some of us stress the religious, others stress the cultural.
Just look at yard decorations, non-Chrisitan decorations vastly outnumber Christian ones in the Waco neighborhoods where I have noticed. At our house we normally have a nativity in our yard so people will know that Christmas for our family is centered around the birth of Jesus. But we also enjoy the non-Christian aspects of the season. (You gotta love some of the Christmas movies; “A Christmas Story” gets annual viewing in our house.)
Some Christians bemoan the lost “true meaning” of Christmas, but I see this loss as more a reflection on the poor job we Christians do of living like Jesus than of any fault of the non-Christians.
And even though I seek to follow the Way of Christ and celebrate the birth of Jesus, I can surely rejoice with those who celebrate Hanukkah and Kwanzaa. These vessels of memory are so important to the highest hopes of humanity.
So, merry Christmas and happy holidays! I hope joy permeates this season for you and yours.
An angel once visited some pretty average dudes (not in Waco) and said, “Don’t be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people.”
All people; that’s all of us. Let’s stick with that — joy for all.