Tuesday, December 30, 2008

I Was Going to Let it Go...

I had started a post about the expression "Happy Holidays", but then decided I would just let it go. Then I read this article by Robert Knight (because I can't just skip over the dang thing) and my blood is just boiling again. I know, I know, people hate the expression "Happy Holidays" because it takes the reason for the season out of Christmas. I get it. I understand that many people want to hear "Merry Christmas". I even have Jewish friends that say it and receive it with grace and understanding. I'll give and get back a "Happy Hanukkah" will equal acceptance. But that is because I know these people. I know their faith and what they will be doing this holiday season. I would not assume that of just any stranger I met on the street or in a store. What about Kwanzaa? Should I be walking up to every African-American I know and saying, "Happy Kwanzaa"? I don't think so.

I guess that the big deal is that retailers are shying away from the Christ part of Christmas by removing "Merry Christmas" from their banners, ads, and employee greetings. But really, does "Merry Christmas" really assume an understanding that Christ was born in Bethlehem? Robert Knight writes: "The whole idea of gift giving at Christmas comes from acknowledging that God gave His Son as a gift to all people, and expects us to treat each other accordingly. Retailers who refuse to call it Christmas but still want Christmas dollars are betting that Americans will continue to give extravagantly, forever, without the deeper reason. They think that they can remove the heart without harming the patient."

I would argue that "God gave His Son as a gift to all people" is not the motivation for many people to be purchasing gifts during the holiday season. If we all really wanted to give that kind of gift to all people, the kind of gift that God would give, would we really be purchasing those gifts on Black Friday with mobs of people fighting over the best deals at a store that won't even say "Merry Christmas"? And hey, I'm the first to admit that I LOVE Black Friday shopping. I didn't go this year, but it certainly rings in the holiday season for me. And by that I don't mean, "I come closer to Christ by seeking the best deals at retail stores so that I can give gifts unto my children." I just like to shop and save money.

So what is the motivation for the gift giving? You know who I'm going to imply here, don't you? And I'm not saying that this is true for everyone, just some. In fact, most of my friends avoid this subject with their own children, as do I. But I love him, I believe in him, I think Santa has done wonders for good people all over the world. Not as much good as Christ, but good none the less. Knight even tries to imply that getting Macy's on board with a good old fashioned "Merry Christmas" is a triumph over the dark side. The dark side of what? Yes, most people associate Macy's with Miracle on 34th Street, a classic Christmas movie that now has several versions available for watching. But what is this Christmas movie about? SANTA CLAUS!!! I'm sorry folks, but if you think that the miracle in this movie has anything to do with Christ's birth, you are sadly mistaken. Yes, there are implications as to a higher being in the newer version ("in God we trust"), but this show is about getting people to believe... believe in Santa.

All I'm saying here is that "Happy Holidays" means the same thing to me as "Merry Christmas". Mostly because society has polluted the meaning of Christmas. I don't think that many people, especially store clerks and retailers, mean "enjoy a season of giving as you celebrate the birth of our Savior" when they say "Merry Christmas". The true meaning of Christmas is felt by our interactions with others, not the simple words said to each other in passing.

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