Every year, starting around November, Bill O’Reily, with the inevitability of an unloved season, starts going on and on about the secular “War on Christmas,” and Pat Robertson joined the fun this year by stating, and I’m paraphrasing, that atheists want everyone else to be miserable, so they want to steal the joy and holidays away from others.
Uh, sorry fellas, but you’re exceptionally way off the mark. For starters, you are failing to recognize the current state of Christmas and the holiday season at large in this country. There are two types of Christmas, for those of us who celebrate it:
- There is the religious Christmas, which is not celebrated by everyone who embraces Christmas. It is for people who go to Church to commemorate the birth of their Lord and Savior, and who believe in His strength.
- Then there is the secular Christmas, which everyone who celebrates it know, is familiar with, and loves. It is the gathering of ourselves unto family and friends, celebrating another year gone, joyfully exchanging presents, having some good food and hopefully better conversation, and maybe watching some basketball or football… together, of course. It is the exchanging of text messages to our close friends, and all of us look forward to the coming year, hoping it will be better than the one we are about to see end.
The first one is about faith, which if you believe is cool. The second one is about family, and the two of them are not necessarily intertwined. You don’t need to be practicing and devout Christian, or even be a Christian at all, to enthusiastically and genuinely proclaim “Merry Christmas!” to anyone who can hear you.
The battle over nativity scenes and other stuff ultimately falls into the hard politics discussion, and while I oppose it, I don’t like to rant and tear on about it. The fact of the matter is that I was not opposed to seeing Christmas songs of a religious nature when I attended a public high school, since not all the songs were of a religious nature, not all of them were about Christmas either, and we only sang songs that were well written and could be well performed. A lot of them were not only secular in tone, but designed to be hilarious and funny at the same time.
I think it’s hypocritical of conservative commentators to criticize business owners for encouraging employees to say “Happy Holidays” in lieu of “Merry Christmas,” since these same conservative commentators argue for free enterprise, which in turn means that ownership should do whatever they feel is best to maximize profits, which given the increasing religious diversity in this country, means saying “Happy Holidays.” It is not a war of political correctness; it is an economic war with the competition, which is waged through many means, one of which is the choice of language.
Penn Jillette, of Penn and Teller fame, wrote an op-ed piece for CNN, in which he states that, unlike the wars in the Middle East, the War on Terror, and the War on Drugs, the so-called War on Christmas is misnamed, because ultimately no one’s life is at risk, and no one dies because of it; and he’s right. It is a bad name, and I would add that it’s not a fight worth waging since, quite frankly, I don’t think a lot of people give a crap about it.
They want to spend time with family, exchange presents, like my family is planning on doing this Christmas, and have a nice time. They may choose to celebrate the religious Christmas, or they may not; they may not celebrate Christmas at all, and if you don’t, that’s awesome, since you choose to celebrate the holidays with your family in your own particular fashion. For the rest of us, we celebrate the secular Christmas, in which we spend time with family, gain a few pounds, watch a lame Christmas parade, some basketball, a football game, and ultimately take a moment to relish the fact we don’t have to go into work that way.
That, Mr. O’Reilly and Mr. Robertson, is Christmas in America today, and I can tell you that the only war on it is the war you try to create every year.