As warm lights adorn quaint town squares and the soft blanket of snow lays gently on the ground, it’s difficult not to get into a holiday state of mind. As much as I would love to maintain the cynical journalist stereotype, I am not afraid to admit that I love this time of year so much, it brings tears to my eyes. Whether my weeping is from an end to the academic purgatory that is finals week or the celebration of the birth of a messiah is yet to be seen, but I will let you know when I figure it out .
While this time of year can soften the stoniest of hearts, there are always members of our society who believe it is their birthright to be absolutely enraged about nothing at all, and worse yet, turn a season that should be focused on love into a bigoted war of Christian exceptionalism. If you’re as intuitive as I think you are, kind reader, you would ascertain that I am talking about the absolute joke that is “The War on Christmas.”
Let me begin by saying that I was raised Catholic, and while my affection for some of the dogma has disintegrated, I still maintain a sincere respect for the religion I was raised in and understand how emotional one’s connection to faith can be. As someone who has struggled with religion my entire life, I often find that “high holy days” bring my faith back to earth, because I use the day to focus on my private spirituality and the people I love. Sadly, when fundamental Christians claim their holiday, one of 14 official religious celebrations during the month of December this year, is the only cause worth celebrating, the heartwarming sentiments that all holidays can provide turn into a political, childish nightmare.
I will spare you all of my thoughts regarding the fact that Christmas actually began as a pagan observance of the winter season and that historically, Jesus most likely wasn’t even born in December, but instead of dwelling in the past, I’ll fast forward to our current state of yuletide affairs.
The term “War on Christmas” originated from the wise lips of Bill O’Reilly (note my sarcasm) who was offended by the fact that many advertisers, government bodies (namely public schools) and retailers were refraining from saying “Merry Christmas” and instead using the more inclusive option of “Happy Holidays.” Although I too object to the gross consumerism that has been on the rise over the last decade of holiday seasons, I’m not sure why Christians feel as if they are being attacked by using a term that celebrates the identities of all, not just the select few. I’m sure we can all remember the Starbucks’ red cup “controversy” that rocked the nation in early November, which claimed the newly minimalistic red cup was an attack on the Christian faith. I must say, I’m interested to know where Christians find the whimsical Santa Claus doodles of former Starbucks cups in the bible, but surely, if Donald Trump validates a movement, it’s real, right? When Trump chimed in on the conversation, he encouraged his followers to boycott Starbucks and followed that statement with the promise that if he is elected President of the United States, “we will all be saying Merry Christmas, I can tell you that.” While this isn’t a surprising statement from a man who is also in favor of all-Christian militias, I think their might be a bigger problem here. We live in a country that thrives off of exceptionalist mindsets and elitist egos.
As the dominant religion in the United States, it would make sense that something as trivial as a red cup would throw Christians into a tizzy. Think about it. Christians are not assumed to be terrorists or doubted for their legitimacy like most other practicing faiths in this country are. When a dominant class of people is suddenly asked to give up a wee bit of power for the sake of inclusivity, they revolt. We see the same reaction in most social movements, including “meninists” in relation feminist movements, from some Caucasians in relation to racial justice advances. Christians in this country are not constantly under siege for their beliefs. There is no such thing as a “Christian Free Zone” as is being done to Muslims nationwide in an unfair and incorrect punishment for the actions of the Islamic State group. Christians have the privilege of comfort. Jeff Schweitzer, noted commentator for The Huffington Post, put it this way: “There is no war on Christmas; the idea is absurd at every level. Those who object to being forced to celebrate another’s religion are drowning in Christmas in a sea of Christianity dominating all aspects of social life. An 80 percent majority can claim victimhood only with an extraordinary flight from reality.” For the Christians who do not feel threatened by holiday inclusivity (and I would argue most don’t), it is important to do what Jesus would have probably done, and love everyone. If you are someone who abides by the War on Christmas mentality, there are ways to work on opening your heart. Start by talking to people of other faiths and learning their story; you’ll probably find that we all have more in common than we have at odds. Maybe attend a prayer service of a different faith and learn how others worship. My friends, the War on Christmas is over (if you want it).