The Christmas season is officially upon us.
The holiday decorations are up in malls and homes. Shoppers are out in full force (as a stack of news links again detailed the worst that Black Friday brings out in people). And soldiers are enlisting, once again, for the all-important annual tradition, the war on Christmas.
There’s no doubt that that the war on Christmas continues. While a Google search will turn up mostly news results from a year ago, fresh links are starting to pop up. Bill O’Reilly may have fired the first shot in this year’s battle with an opinion segment a week before Thanksgiving. Over the next few weeks, the good cheer of the season will be peppered with stories of oppressive governments and secular retailers facing off against valiant defenders of Jesus’ birthday celebration.
And as the battle heats up again, I realized that when it comes to this annual tradition, I’m a card carrying Christmas pacifist.
Is Christmas Under Attack?
Every year, the fight over Christmas centers on a few key battlegrounds. There’s the debate over retail cashiers wishing shoppers a bland, apparently anti-Jesus “Happy Holidays.” Santa’s little helpers revolt against local governments who decide to either forego displaying a Nativity scene on the courthouse steps, or perhaps worse, surrounding a Nativity scene with stars of David and Muslim crescent moons. And there are always a few skirmishes around random occurrences of school administrators acting extra Grinchy toward students, or neighborhood associations putting a curfew on Christmas lights.
Put it all together, and it certainly looks like Christmas is under attack and it’s up to the few, the proud, the Christians to save Christmas.
But I’ve got news for you. Christmas is not under attack. There is no war to fight. Put down your holiday pitchforks.
The Front Line
If you want to know how to enlist in the Christmas army, it’s pretty easy to find information. I liked this website, the aptly named waronchristmas.com. It was near the top of my search results, and though the production values are about that of a fifth grade science project, it will give you all the information you need. For example, the opening sentence gives visitors this battle cry:
“Preserve and protect the most beautiful of American holidays.”
In case you don’t see what I immediately saw, the site continues by calling itself:
“A place to treasure and…preserve our traditional American culture.”
That sums it up. The war over Christmas isn’t about preserving Christmas. It’s about America…or what we think America should be. When was the last time any Christmas soldier took the fight to Japan or Russia to ensure that Christmas was being properly acknowledged in those Christmas loving places? Never. Because this isn’t about Christmas. It’s about American culture. Japan loves Christmas, even though it is one of the least Christian nations on earth. But we don’t care about that.
If you still think the war for Christmas is still worth fighting, let’s just take a look at what we’re fighting over.
The Key Battlegrounds
Key battleground number one: “Happy Holidays” versus “Merry Christmas.” People who care about what a retail cashier at Target says to them during the month of December do not have important things to care about. Let’s see, why are you at Target in December? To max out your credit card on stuff that if it was really needed, you would’ve already purchased it in August? Exactly. You’re shopping in the first place because you’re celebrating Christmas no differently than the secularists celebrate.
And just where does the phrase “Merry Christmas” come from? Is it even biblical? (To borrow a word so overused, it has lost all meaning.) Of course, it’s just another American ideal of what Christmas should be.
Key battleground number two: Christmas decorations in public. We deal with stores putting up Christmas decorations in October now. Clearly, people have more access than ever to gaudy, mass produced holiday “décor.” But people go berserk if a wreath is taken off the door of a government building.
I ask you again: does it really matter? Was anyone ever walking around the town square in the midst of a spiritual crisis and, seeing a cheap plastic Nativity scene in front of City Hall, turned his life over to sweet baby Jesus? It seems unlikely.
An Army of Saboteurs
The fact is, we’re fighting the wrong fight. Christmas has ballooned to an American consumerist monstrosity that no army could kill. And Christians have bought into all of it, while Jesus languishes in the background. The real Christmas is being killed, in the hearts and homes of every Christian who picks a fight over petty and meaningless traditions.
Maybe God is even using the politically correct “war” on Christmas to show Christians all the things they can do without this holiday season.
Matt Appling is a pastor and school teacher in Kansas City, Missouri. He blogs at TheChurchOfNoPeople.com.