Two weeks ago, 36 members of the U.S. House signed a resolution to make a public stand against the “War on Christmas.” The resolution, which is not a law only an official statement of opinion, reads as follows:
Whereas Christmas is a national holiday celebrated on December 25; and
Whereas the Framers intended that the First Amendment of the Constitution, in prohibiting the establishment of religion, would not prohibit any mention of religion or reference to God in civic dialog: Now, therefore, be it
Resolved, That the House of Representatives—
(1) recognizes the importance of the symbols and traditions of Christmas;
(2) strongly disapproves of attempts to ban references to Christmas; and
(3) expresses support for the use of these symbols and traditions by those who celebrate Christmas.
Beyond it being vague, puerile and a waste of taxpayers’ money, we’d argue the motivation behind such a resolution is out of touch with the opinion of the general public, who by and large just want to make merry and celebrate peacefully in their own way with their friends and families. Here are a couple examples of the “anti-Christmas” issues that led up to the resolution:
•”Merry Christmas” vs. “Happy Holidays” – Possibly the oldest of the “anti-Christmas” battles. People like Bill O’Riley are furious the word “Christmas” wasn’t used in some store displays, and they see the use of “Happy Holidays” by Walmart greeters and others as a direct attack on Christianity. But are we really surprised? Businesses choose neutral seasonal greetings as a business decision. They want to appeal to a diverse consumer base because they are motivated by profit, not cultural significance.
•Starbucks cups – The plain red cup was said to have created public outrage, but we don’t know one real live person who is bothered by it.
Interestingly, a 2012 Pew Research study found that a staggering 92 percent of Americans celebrate Christmas. Of those, 51 percent celebrate it as a poignant religious holiday honoring the birth of Jesus Christ as messiah, while 32 percent celebrate it as a secular holiday and nine percent see it as both. These numbers, incidentally, undermine the “Merry Christmas” vs. “Happy Holidays” battle. If over 92 percent of Americans celebrate Christmas, who are all these people saying Happy Holiday? And who, exactly, are those fighting the “War on Christmas” trying to save it from?
The resolution also doesn’t specify exactly which Christmas symbols our House leaders are talking about (Snowmen? Yule logs? Christian icons? The word “Christmas?" Rudolph from the old movies?) There are hundreds of different ways Christmas is celebrated around the world and those traditions change over time – take, for instance, the addition of the Elf on the Shelf in recent years and the increased popularity of the German myth of Krampus into the American dialogue. The fact that traditions and symbols are constantly changing makes the resolution, typically a symbolic gesture, even emptier.
We’re tired of our holiday being used against us. The “War on Christmas” is a perceived war brought on by a very vocal minority to keep us more polarized than we already are. The real war on Christmas is waged by excessive consumerism, politicians and talking heads. If we could, we’d fight on the side of the now defunct Society for the Prevention of Useless Giving, a group founded in 1912 by women who were fed up with the materialism they felt superseded the true meaning of the day. When Christmas is reduced to a corporate battle for our wallets, it dilutes its solidarity and holiness - and the truth is we shouldn’t need corporations to validate our religion or beliefs.
This Christmas let’s stop looking for reasons to be offended and take part in the joy and excitement of the season. Let’s go to church to worship and pray with our loved ones; let’s share a Christmas feast and exchange gifts; let’s sing carols and watch our favorite Christmas movies; let’s watch as our children rush out to find what Santa left under the tree. Let’s do all those things that give us the warm fuzzies and forget about the “war,” because in our minds, “war” and “Christmas” just don’t belong together.
Merry Christmas from the Progress!