Happy Holidays – Offensive Edition

St-NicholasI was at my youngest son’s school Christmas program last night and there was no mention of Jesus in any of the spoken parts or songs.  The main point of the program was that Christmas should be about peace, love, and harmony.  I was slightly offended, but not because of any of that – I’m definitely down with peace, love, and harmony.

Maybe you’ve heard: there’s a war on Christmas (according to Fox News).  I know some people who claim they are very offended when someone says, “Happy Holidays” instead of “Merry Christmas,” but I’m not one of them.  I could care less what someone working retail at this time of year says to me as I check out.

And let’s be honest: does someone not wishing you a Merry Christmas really affect whether or not you do have a Merry Christmas?  Maybe it does, but for me it doesn’t.

But what I will say is that for Christians – if you are really into keeping this time of year about Christ being born as a human baby and coming to teach us the way to live our lives according to God’s design and to redeem us all – then there are some other changes we need to make too.

What I’m slightly (very slightly – because ultimately it doesn’t affect me) offended by was the promotion of Santa Claus.

I’m sure that because it’s a public school there was an intention not to sing any sacred music or talk about the birth of Christ due to not wanting to offend anyone.  I get that, and it doesn’t bother me.  But yet they had a Santa Claus stand in because “the real Santa was too busy making gifts and getting ready for Christmas and so we could talk to one of his helpers who happened to be dressed exactly like him (except he was 8 years old).  If I’m getting technical here, if you can’t promote Jesus, why can you promote Santa Claus?

My kids have never believed in Santa Claus, because I’ve always told them the truth.  We retell the story of the historical Saint Nicholas and always have.  We’ve told them not to tell other kids their age that there is no Santa Claus because some people choose to believe that way and we should let them find out for themselves.

I’ve taken some flak for this over the years from family, friends, and even people at our church.  I’m ruining the magic of Christmas.  I’m taking the fun out of it.  Really?  If people are as staunch defenders of the real reason for the season, then why do they promote consumerism, greed, lies, and magic during this holiday?

One reason is that Santa Claus is more the reason for this season than Jesus is in America – for those who believe in Christ and those who don’t.  It’s a federal religion same as the Easter Bunny (that’s a post for another time) and the reason people want military and federal holidays promoted during worship.

I used to be very vocal and have a real distaste for Santa Claus.  So much so that people kind of walked on egg shells at Christmas celebrations around me to make sure that Santa Claus wasn’t made too big of a deal.  I can remember one family member asking if it was okay for one of my kids to wear a Santa hat during a party.  But now, I don’t really care – if you want to talk about Santa, if you want to have decorations of Santa, if you want to tell the Christmas story – you know, the one where Santa makes his list and checks it twice and somehow magically comes down chimneys (even when you don’t have a fireplace) and eats milk and cookies leaving a note written in your parents handwriting – go ahead.  It doesn’t affect me.

I’m not offended by the two competing (yes, they are competing) narratives that occur at Christmas, but I am offended by Christians who get so uptight about greetings and salutations at this time of year and yet have no problem with making Christmas about Santa Claus and the birth of Christ.  And really, “offended” is probably not the right word anymore for me – I just see how the federal religion has so entwined it’s tentacles into Christianity and the church and I see how the “War on Christmas” does nothing to promote the values and teachings of Christ.

And really, this date on the calendar was created as the date of Christ’s birth.  The Bible says the shepherds were out in the field at night when the angels came to announce the birth of Jesus.  Shepherds in the Middle East don’t spend the night in the fields during the month of December – it’s too cold.  They do that in the summer.  Roman Emperor Constantine chose this date because because it was the beginning of the week of celebrations of the rites of Mithra, the sun god of Persia.  For a great resource on this, I recommend reading Pagan Christianity by George Barna and Frank Viola.

But mostly I say, “So what.”  My kids are told what Christmas is to us – about celebrating the birth of Christ.  I know what Christmas is all about.  So whatever you do at Christmas, go for it.  Enjoy it.  Just be careful about declaring war on something in the name of something else when really your war is on you because you’re doing the same thing you just don’t think you are.  Does that make sense?

Because for me, as long as peace, love, and harmony are promoted during this time of year – I’m down with that.