Merry Christmas – How Dare You!

by Brad Harmon on December 7, 2009 in Miscellany

merry christmas crossed through 600x360 | marketplace christianity
It’s the most wonderful time of the year, or perhaps it’s not?  It seems that with each passing year the rhetoric of the no Merry Christmas crowd ratchets up just a little more.

I must admit that part of me wants to chalk this up to the growing anti-Christian movement by groups like the ACLU; however, is that fair to those that may genuinely feel offended by Christmas.

It’s strange for me to imagine anyone actually being offended by Christmas.  It does not bother me in the least if I am wished a “Happy Kwanzaa” or “Happy Hanukkah.”  It must be Christ that is the source of their objections, but is Christmas still a Christian holiday?

The Christmas Story – How Authentic is It?

There is a real danger when we remove the text of the Bible from it’s original setting and culture.  In the more than 2,000 years since Christ’s birth, I wonder if He would recognize it with all of the editing we have done.

The Christmas Story - How Authentic is It?We have added camels, stables, innkeepers, medieval type inns, donkeys, a non-crying Jesus, and even a little drummer boy.  We condensed all of this down to one night, and arbitrarily decided December 25th was the very night He was born (probably to replace a pagan festival).

In all likelihood, Christ was born in the fall since the shepherds were still in their fields tending their flocks.  Joseph and Mary may have been in Bethlehem for days or even weeks before the birth of Christ.  Luke does not tell us.

Christ was placed in a manger (a feeding trough) which makes a pretty good temporary cradle.  The inn is most likely the upper room of the ancestral home.  It was common for people to bring their livestock in at night to protect against the elements and theft, so a manger would not be out of place.  Of course, they could have just brought it in too.  I also wonder, given Mary’s situation, how welcome she would have been – could this have been a slight?

Tradition, Tradition! Tradition!

Sorry, whenever I think of the word tradition I hear Tevye from Fiddler on the Roof singing “Tradition!”  None of this information is particularly new, but we seem to continue celebrating that first Christmas the same way.  Tradition has won out over authenticity.

What Image Does Christmas Bring to Mind For You?When you wish someone “Merry Christmas” what does that really mean?  Is it a jubilant reaction to the birth of the Messiah?  If so, well that would certainly be offensive to Jews who do not believe the Messiah has come yet.

I doubt that this is what many people think about when they utter the words, even most Christians.  Don’t get me wrong.  I believe most Christians hold the Christmas story as a dear part of Christmas, but I think it has become just that – a part, instead of the meaning.  How often do we really think of His birth during this season?

My home is filled with crosses.  There’s one in just about any direction you look.  When Christmas rolls around though, the number of crosses pales when compared to the snow people, gingerbread kids, candy canes, and ornaments that invade my house.

We have the traditional nativity scene (guilty), but even that is dwarfed by the sprawling Christmas village (it might even have a tiny nativity now that I think of it).  I think there are now 23 huge Rubbermaid bins filled with just indoor decor.

Happy Holidays!

For me, I say “Merry Christmas” out of tradition.  If I really thought about it, then I would be joining the angel’s chorus announcing His birth and the good tidings that it brought.  How could you not?  Honestly though, I’m just not thinking that deep when I say it.

Happy HolidaysFor all of my complaining about the commercialization of Christmas, I am one of those guilty of contributing to it.  I hate gift shopping because I just hate to shop for others.  My rants about how Christmas has been hi-jacked is more of a cover for my selfishness (although I do believe my rants have lots of merit).

When it comes down to it, I really like the Christmas that we celebrate now.  The traditions are comforting, and have taken on their own meanings.  It’s still a very magical time of the year.  In my business, I send out “Happy Holidays” or “Seasons Greetings” cards.  This covers all of the holidays without offending anyone.

All of my business ventures are based from home, but I would still decorate for Christmas if I had a traditional office space.  I would put up a Christmas tree, a nativity, and I would wish people a “Merry Christmas.”

I Heard Him Exclaim as He Drove Out of Sight

If someone wishes me a “Happy Holidays,” I return the same.  Any other greeting will likely just receive a smile and a “Thank You” in return.  As far as Christmas being a Christian holiday, I think it is what you make of it. It probably always has been.

As for me and my house, I pledge to make Christ more than just a part of Christmas this year.  I will impart the true Christmas story to my son.  I will explain to him what’s been added, and why we continue some traditions even if inaccurate.

I will tell him that it’s not the day of Christ’s birthday that is important, but that God fulfilled His promise and provided a way for us to be reconciled with Him even when we did not deserve it.  Christ would give us the greatest gift of all.

Unlike our house at Christmas, where the sparkle of Christmas decor obscures the crosses (wow talk about symbolism) – Christ will not be lost in Christmas.  Whether I wish you a “Merry Christmas,” “Happy Holidays,” or “Seasons Greetings” know that I am also saying “God loves YOU and sent His Son to redeem YOU.”

Glory to God in the highest,
and on earth peace, good will toward men.

{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

aluminumfence December 7, 2009 at 9:07 pm

I say “Merry Christmas” no matter what people say to me, I think after reading your article though I am doing it because I am angry about the whole “Happy Holidays” trend. Years ago this didn't bother me as much because I didn't see it as so much of a threat, maybe it isn't because “As for me and my house, we will worship the Lord” and that's that. But, that is negative, and I don't like to think that way but I get wrapped up in all the schtuff we all see and hear on TV and radio as well as across the computer screen.

I ran into a building inspector on a jobsite a couple of weeks ago that proclaimed that Christmas trees are “paganism” (and we live in the mountains of NC where the BIGGEST source of income for many is these trees) and I disagree with him, but it did spark a thought process. How much we have changed and commercialized Christmas is phenomenal. I have a 4yr old daughter, and yes, I fill the underneath the tree with gifts. We also are involved in helping other families, Church activities having to do with Christmas and helping others along with why Christmas is REALLY important.

Anyway, I have rambled, thanks for a great post.

PS: I wish I didn't have to sign in to comment! LOL Can't ever remember my Discus info….

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Brad Harmon December 7, 2009 at 9:30 pm

Wow. The North Carolina hills are absolutely beautiful. I would love to have a log cabin in the Brevard area. I remember going to church camp (The Wilds) up there as a kid and it was breathtaking.

For me, I have learned not to let this debate get under my skin. Now when they replace “Christ” with an “X” in Christmas – that gets under my skin.

I am looking at changing DISQUS and will be doing a post about it soon. One thing I like about it is that you should be able to go from website to website that has it without logging onto each of them. I've noticed several experienced commenters have the same issue you are though, and they have ended up with multiple accounts. Stay tuned … that post should come later this week.

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Brandon Cox December 7, 2009 at 10:39 pm

I think it's funny how much we try to push retailers to use Jesus as a marketing tool. How dare you not use the name of Christ in your half off sale! Haha, I say Merry Christmas, but I'm not going to say it if it offends someone. If the gospel offends, so be it, but I don't want to offend in the name of my own holiday celebration.

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Brad Harmon December 7, 2009 at 11:10 pm

It seems we think along the same lines on this. I like your sale comment. It made me laugh. Sadly, I know some people like that.

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Alison Moore Smith December 10, 2009 at 1:56 am

However, is that fair to those that may genuinely feel offended by Christmas.

“Genuinely offended”? To be completely honest, I can't see any logic in offense at a holiday that celebrates the birth of someone who — no matter your personal religious affiliation — brought a message of love, forgiveness, kindness, compassion, and, yes, living a principled life.

Even if you (collective “you,” not directed at Brad, of course) don't PERSONALLY want to follow those principles, you have to admit that your life is exponentially better because OTHERS do. So you're going to get your knickers in a twist that your life is so stinking much better? You're going to be bugged because people believe they have a moral obligation to be nice and fair and honest and helpful?

No, I don't get it.

I lived for ten years in Boca Raton, Florida. By the time we moved away we were the only Christians left on our street. (At Christmas, my friends said, “You have one bright house!”) But I didn't get crazy when I saw a menorah or when I was extended a Jewish kindness. Even though it's not my thing.

Isn't it strange how “diversity” has turned us into such an intolerable lot?

BTW, the tree is a pagan symbol. But I still love mine. 🙂

Another BTW, you don't have to sign in to post with Disqus. I have an account, but don't want to bother, so I just post as a guest. No problem.

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Brad Harmon December 10, 2009 at 8:54 am

Even if you (collective “you,” not directed at Brad, of course) don't PERSONALLY want to follow those principles, you have to admit that your life is exponentially better because OTHERS do.

I really want to agree with you here, but I think there are too many of us who have claimed the name of Christ and have made people's lives much worse – that's the Christianity that too many know. There's a quote I like, (that I'm about to butcher because I can't remember who said it) it goes something like “Christianity has not been tried and failed, True Christianity is rarely tested.” I do agree that much of the offense people claim is not genuine though.

At Christmas, my friends said, “You have one bright house!”

This had me rolling this morning. My wife gave me the strangest look wondering what had got me so tickled.

P.S. Trying out my HTML in comments this morning. I'm always impressed by yours so I hope this works. 😉

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Alison Moore Smith December 10, 2009 at 10:27 am

I don't think you understood what I wrote. “You have to admit that your life is exponentially better because others [follow the principles Christ taught].” Can you think of anyone who really has a worse quality of life because of the Christians (or others) who live as Christ taught?

Hey, good work on the HTML! 🙂

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Brad Harmon December 10, 2009 at 11:38 am

I just think that there are so few Christians that really follow Christ's teaching; even so, the Bible is clear that the very teaching of Christ will offend some. Of course, that doesn't mean it should or that their offense is logical. Christ was perfect and people were offended by Him. I agree with your sentiment though.

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