Tuesday, December 13, 2005

When is a Christmas Card Really a Christmas Card?

Shields up. Go to Red Alert!

I'll probably get decimated by the likes of Steve Hays for saying this, but I'm getting just a little tired of the "war on Christmas." Yeah, I know, we as Christians are supposed to be vigilant, and uphold the social order, etc. But seriously, when is a Christmas card really a Christmas card?

What is more in the spirit of Christmas, Santa saying "Merry Christmas" or a card that says something generic like "Have a Blessed Holiday Season" and then quotes Isaiah 9:6?

I think perhaps it makes a difference who is saying it. If one of my Jewish co-workers wished me Merry Christmas, should I automatically assume that they know & celebrate the true meaning of Christmas? I doubt it. Same goes for the Protestant (or Catholic) who makes his yearly trip to church this time of year.

I first started thinking about these issues when Andrea Seu wrote her excellent piece about using "God bless you."

She says: THERE IS SOMETHING I HAVE TO TELL YOU ABOUT myself: I don't say "God bless you" when people sneeze. This is a habit (or nonhabit) that came bundled with my conversion experience when the guy who led me to the Lord said it was superstitious—and that's been good enough for me ever since.

You should not imagine that I am proud of this idiosyncratic stance or mistake it for courage. And indeed I have been known to bend once or twice in the last 25 years for particular sneezers (Paul's advice: "all things to all men"). Nor do I have a problem with folks who call down divine favor on me when the pollen count elicits violent spasmodic expirations. It's just a petit scruple of mine, let us say, for which I usually circumvent the social awkwardness by interjecting "Got a cold?" at the appropriate juncture.

Even at home I never made an issue of this; I just didn't say the thing. But now my older son, who has in later years jettisoned all other forms of righteousness, is trying hard to drill the alien three-word formula into his speech, having discovered its wider cultural mandate, and repudiated what seems to him the barbaric indoctrination of his youth. So here we have a fine kettle of fish: a self-styled heathen who calls on the divinity when people pass sinus air, and a Christian woman who goes mum about God when everyone else invokes Him.

The Christmas thing just brings it to the forefront. And as far as I'm concerned, it's not what you say, it's what you mean. (With apologies to Christ) These people say "Merry Christmas" with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. And if it is not in their hearts, does it really matter if they say "Merry Christmas" or not?

This article quotes Jerry Falwell on the White House Christmas card as saying "There's a verse from Scripture in it. I don't mind that at all, as long as we don't try to pretend we're not a nation under God."

My reply: I don't mind people fighting to retain Christmas as long as we don't pretend saying "Merry Christmas" makes us a nation under God.

12/14/05 update: Turns out Cal Thomas agrees with me. Also, Daniel beat us both to press with his Christmas lament.


The Mains said...

Here, here!

Daniel said...

While some evangelicals are saying, "Let us put the Christ back into Christmas", some Catholics are saying, "Let us put the Mass back into Christmas (Christ's mass)"

As for me, I don't really like Christmas - it has become a hallmark holiday characterized by greed, materialism, and secularism. Would that his children would celebrate like this on resurrection Sunday!

I already made my annual lament here. :-)

William Dicks said...

Where is the real you?

Who's photograph did you steal?

Which is the real you?

Gummby said...

I'm experimenting with different personas.

Kim said...

Well, how does this persona feel after being a stick man?

Gummby said...

Very funny. Actually, I feel much deeper, and not so one-dimensional.