Santa Clarita Signal • Ethically Speaking Column • For November 14 Weekender, 2015
Please Don’t Ruin the Season
David W. Hegg
My first clue fall had descended on our land came in the form of brilliant photos of bright colored foliage in New Hampshire posted on facebook. Then, a month or so later our mercury dipped below 80 degrees, and we were thrilled to breathe crisp air during our morning walks. Finally, the summer heat had given up the fight, and we could begin planning some cozy evenings with a real blaze in the fireplace.
I love this time of year. It comes with such promise. Memories stretching back to childhood make us smile as we look forward to relaxed times of holiday fun. I find myself caught up in wondering which of our children will bring their families home for Thanksgiving or Christmas. And plans to light the house are already formulating, as are ideas for special gifts for the grandkids. I love this time of year, and will use the rest of this column to kindly ask you all not to ruin it.
I am tired of the shallow thinking and mean-spirited behavior too many of us bring out during the holiday season. And already some of you are mad because I used “holiday.” That’s what I’m talking about. And I’m doing it early in the game in hopes of forestalling the usual behavioral vomit we all must endure from those who choose to make this season a battle ground.
Here’s the deal: Some of you gear up to be incensed and outraged by those whom you believe have intentionally “taken Christ out of Christmas.” And others of you are getting your magnifying glasses out to make sure you call attention to any time anything religious finds it’s way into the public schools, public property, or public discourse. Frankly, we’re all tired of it, not least because you’re both dead wrong.
Simply put, you can’t “take Christ out of Christmas” by using different terms. “Holiday” means “holy day” and derives from the centuries old tradition that December 25 celebrates the birth of Jesus Christ. “Xmas” simply uses the centuries old Greek alphabetic symbol of Christ.
But much more importantly, the responsibility of keeping Christ in Christmas belongs to those who follow him as God the Son, Lord, and Savior. This responsibility was never relegated to government or society at large. And frankly, when we behave badly, we only give more reasons for our opponents to argue that our beliefs don’t make for better people. After all, if they choose to follow our Jesus they assume they’ll get our lives. So, let’s choose to be winsome and lay off the petty ammunition.
And for those of you intent on ripping a traditional Christmas out of every public display, understand that your actions don’t make you any friends. Bullying isn’t attractive regardless of its supposed political correctness. And who decided politics had the right to undermine traditions our nation has celebrated since its inception? Why is that “correct?” And one more thing. It seems to me you’d enjoy the fall, and the holidays it encompasses a whole lot more if you dedicated your time and energy to making your families whole and healthy rather than wasting your time policing mine.
So there, I said it. My point is simply to lessen the inane chatter and shouting that inevitably disrupts the sights and sounds of the season. Arguments over the propriety of having Christmas carols, manger scenes, and gift exchanges in public schools are ridiculous. And so are nasty letters and comments being made about those who choose not to celebrate Christ in their Christmas, or celebrate it at all for that matter.
We are a pluralistic nation for one thing, and for another, we followers of Christ must never expect government or society at large to do our work for us. It’s not up to the coffee shop chains, or the department stores, or the florist down the street to hold high the cause of Christ or Christmas. That’s our job, and we do it poorly if what people remember about our Christmas is a nasty scowl when they wish us “Happy Holidays.”
So, can we all just get over ourselves and enjoy what the season brings us? I hope so, because the cooler weather, cozy evenings, bright lights, memorable music, and the glee in a granddaughter’s eyes are just too wonderful to miss for the sake of argument.