Subsequent to a declaration to fight the war on Christmas by conservatives looking for popularity and political gain, attacks on matters as trivial as coffee cups have been commonplace. People around the country have expressed fear that the traditional Christmas season is being overtaken by diversity of religion that no longer allows us to express our own views and to simply say Merry Christmas. Yet, this year, after being inundated with the idea that we can finally get back to saying those words, there seems to be more at stake.
This year’s decorations are the same. Church services and Christmas carols are the same. There are just as many Elves on Shelves as ever. Family traditions carried over for generations continue to be celebrated as joyfully as in years past. The average American spends over $700 on gifts and decorations each year, and that has not changed. Just as many people have said Merry Christmas in 2017 as in previous years.
Yet there is one major difference. A sinister tone to the words Merry Christmas threatens the joy and cheer of the season and can be heard in public places everywhere.
The words are sometimes uttered in such a way as to force a political rift. Conversely, the phrase Happy Holidays seems to trigger an angry response. Since we can now say Merry Christmas again, we had better say it and like it.
A culture war between Happy Holidays and Merry Christmas is not new. Since the 17th century, the issue has been used to foster political or religious controversy. Additionally, resentment over liberal ideals that somehow threaten traditional family values has been emphasized at this time of year for decades.
Yet, it is the intention behind the current rhetoric that escalates this issue to a new level in our new American climate. Hostile propaganda is being used to fuel the fires of a civil war developing between two sides of the country that are increasingly divided. Listening to some folks, it is almost as if Donald Trump himself is responsible for our country being allowed to finally celebrate Christmas again.
In the midst of the so-called war on Christmas, examining the true spirit of the holidays is paramount to maintaining civility and prosperity in America. At this time, we acknowledge the birth of unconditional love and ultimate sacrifice for that love. We express gratitude for the overflowing beauty of being human. We receive the gifts of life and love that come with shared existence. The miracle of life, the newborn baby surviving against all odds, is the symbol of human capacity to start anew and live a life of wonder and joy. The Christmas season is a time to share this with one another and feel a universal sense of charity and compassion.
When the words Jesus is the reason for the season ring in your thoughts, consider what that means.
It does not mean that we can finally and forcefully say Merry Christmas to one another. It does not mean that one political ideology wins over the other side. It does not mean that any certain religion should condemn the rights of others to celebrate the wonder of being alive on this amazing planet. It means that love is possible for each of us.
When someone says Happy Holidays, perhaps consider that the true meaning of the season is respect for humanity, a reverence for the connection that resides within us.
That expression may be an opportunity to look into the hearts of others and realize that although we may think, worship, and celebrate differently, deep down we are all the same.
We all wish for happiness during the holidays and throughout the year. Sharing the words Happy Holidays allows us to spread joy and cheer at a time when we need it the most.