Keeping the HOLY in Holidays

6 Dec

Manger sceneToday I want to address one of my pet peeves: Christians who throw hissy fits about “keeping Christ in Christmas.”

Everyone’s received one of those email forwards that talks about boycotting places that sell “holiday trees” or wish people “happy holidays” at this time of year. My Facebook feed today had the classic Ben Stein’s holiday confessions, only this year it’s aimed at the White House, where they’re apparently calling them holiday trees. (For the scoop on Ben Stein, please reference the Snopes page. He did say a lot of what’s attributed to him, but it isn’t about holiday trees or the Obamas.)

I get that we, as Christians, should be concerned about Christ being shut out of our celebrations. But I think we’re going about this wrong, for a number of reasons.

  1. What is a holiday? Merriam-Webster’s first definition of it is holy day. Get that? People who say “Happy holidays” are really wishing you a “Happy Holy Day.” They’re not pushing Christ out. They’re acknowledging that Christ’s birth is a Holy Day.
  2. There are a lot of holidays happening this time of year. Not just Christmas, but also Thanksgiving, St. Andrew’s Day, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Winter Solstice, Christmas Eve, Boxing Day, St. Stephen’s Day, New Year’s Eve, and New Year’s Day. Maybe people aren’t heathens, they’re just efficient and want to cover as many holidays as possible.
  3. Jesus Christ probably wasn’t born on December 25, anyway. We all know this. It’s been documented all kinds of places. Go do a Google search. The point is, we’ve just arbitrarily chosen December 25 as the day we celebrate. What does it matter if some people don’t agree with us?
  4. What was it the angels told the shepherds when they appeared to announce Jesus’ birth? Oh yeah, “peace on earth”. The spirit of Christmas is one of redemption and peace. Not one of strife and anger. Are we really honoring the spirit of Christmas by petty bickering about what we call it?
  5. How many people do you think you’re going to reach for Christ by arguing with them about the name of Christmas?

I think we’d all be better off if we spent more time honoring Christ and the spirit of Christmas by expressing love, joy, peace, and goodwill (i.e. tolerance) toward others.

You want to keep Christ in Christmas? Go out and buy a homeless guy a pair of shoes and a meal.

You want to keep Christ in Christmas? Stop giving your family expensive and unnecessary gifts, and go out to feed the hungry.

You want to keep Christ in Christmas? Visit the sick and imprisoned in His name.

I agree, we should keep Christ in Christmas. We should keep the Holy in Holidays. We just need to rethink how we’re going to go about it.

What do you guys think?

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8 Responses to “Keeping the HOLY in Holidays”

  1. EmSpeaks December 6, 2012 at 1:52 pm #

    Love this post, and completely agree.

    I’d also add:

    6. (Which kind of elaborates on your #4) Is it Christ-honoring to spend the season stressing/fighting over gifts, the resulting credit-card bills, how to decorate, what to do for Christmas dinner, and whose going to be at whose house for the holidays? Should we maybe take a step back and examine what our homes, our priorities, and our attitudes are emphasizing about Christmas?

    • SWC December 6, 2012 at 2:53 pm #

      Man, I wish I’d thought of this! 🙂 You’re completely right. All the strife and drama over these little details takes us away from honoring Christ. Thanks for adding this!

  2. edarnut December 6, 2012 at 4:29 pm #

    Yes. I agree with all of this.

    If the fact that a someone somewhere is celebrating a different holiday can affect your own observance of Christmas, you’re probably doing it wrong.

    We don’t do the Santa thing at all, and I try my best not to mention it to other parents but sometimes it’s unavoidable (mainly because of my loudmouth smart alec son). You’d be surprised at the reaction I get from other moms, especially the Christian ones, about our family’s choice. Just let me ruin the magic of Christmas and raise kids who will grow up to resent me in peace. I’ll let you lie to your kids and lay the foundation for a works-based theology without a word. 🙂

    That Ben Stein thing keeps popping up on my facebook feed and I keep replying with the snopes link.

    • SWC December 6, 2012 at 4:38 pm #

      Wow, you get judgmental comments from other people because you don’t do Santa? I can understand why people choose to do the Santa thing, and I can understand why they don’t, but why does there have to be a fight about it?

      I have been wondering about how to spread this idea myself… Part of my family has been blessed with material wealth and the kids (teen and pre-teen) in that family are accustomed to having stylish, expensive, amazing things. The boy, for instance, has both a PS3 and an X-box. They’re also very faithful Catholics who take their relationship with Christ seriously…but I wonder how best to open a dialogue with them about changing how we celebrate Christmas.

      Another thing your comment made me think about–WOW. You’re so right! It really does lay the foundation for a works-based theology! I know I’ve said this before, Edarnut, but I really love your comments, because you always make me look at things in a new light.

      • edarnut December 6, 2012 at 5:24 pm #

        I explained what we do here last year: http://www.tunrade.com/blog/2011/11/the-one-about-santa/

        My husband’s family has an awesome system for gifts. Because he is one of 5 adult children, some with spouses and kids, they just assign who gets a gift for whom. That way, everyone receives the same number of gifts, but no one has to go broke. It’s a good system.

        Maybe you could suggest some type of service project the entire family can do, to start changing the focus? Perhaps fulfilling the Christmas list of someone in foster care?

        Our sr pastor actually changed up the gift exchange this year for the staff Christmas party. Instead of bringing white elephant gag gifts, everyone drew a name out of a hat and will bring a gift for a child in care, inspired by the person they drew. All the thoughtfulness of gift-giving, but with a better purpose.

        • SWC December 7, 2012 at 10:30 pm #

          We used to draw names in my mom’s family. I’m not sure why we stopped. It’s a great idea, especially with that many kids!

          I love the idea of suggesting a service project. The kids live in a quite affluent part of their city, so it would probably do them some good to see how less fortunate kids live, and I have to think it would make them feel good to do something to help them. Thanks for this idea!

    • Abbi Blosser December 7, 2012 at 12:21 pm #

      I wasn’t raised believing in Santa, and I was leaning that way with our kids (number 1 kid will be here in February). My husband (who was raised with Santa) wasn’t convinced until we watched Jeff Dunham’s Christmas special and heard Peanut’s rant on Santa. Highly amusing, and thought-provoking. What we will do is teach our kids about the historical St. Nicholas.

      I think his family still doesn’t quite believe that we’re not doing Santa. I suspect I’ll have to pull off a few “From Santa” tags that his family will put onto presents…

      • SWC December 7, 2012 at 10:28 pm #

        Ooh, congratulations, Abbi! That’s exciting news! 🙂 I know I’ve seen the Christmas special, but now I’m going to have to go looking at it. There are definitely better lessons to be learned about St. Nicholas than the way we view Santa Claus. I’d never really thought about the idea that Santa lays the foundation for a works-based theology until Edarnut mentioned it–now it blows my mind that I didn’t see that!

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