The music starts in October now. In November my company puts out a memo reminding us that we are allowed to wear "Holiday Ties" with our uniforms beginning December 1st. The mayhem starts in earnest on Black Friday which this year (for the first time I have noticed) was expanded to include Monday and also extended into the following week for on-line orders. Awesome marketing, huh?!
Because this year has been especially troubling to me for many reasons, I dug through my file drawer and found a piece I wrote about in 1998 (before blogging was all the rage). The article was about a Cincinnati story that went national when a local atheist lawyer sued the federal government for violating the establishment of religion clause of the Constitution. Richard Ganulin was troubled about the "separation of church and state." Though this concept is nowhere to be found in the Constitution, Ganulin and his like-minded atheists were upset that Christmas has become a national holiday.
Said Ganulin: "Christmas is a religious holiday and the Congress of the United States is not constitutionally permitted to endorse or aid any religion, purposefully or otherwise, or [promote] entanglement between our government and religious beliefs." He sued to have it stopped and he lost his battle. But don't jingle your bells in celebration just yet.
In that case, U.S. District Judge Susan Dlott did rule against Ganulin. According to Religion Today (December 8, 1999), Judge Dlott decided "that Christmas can be observed as a federal holiday because non-Christians also mark the holiday by celebrating the arrival of Santa Claus. Since non-religious people also observe the holiday, giving federal workers a day off for Christmas does not elevate one religion over another." In her ruling, Judge Dlott invoked a cool, witty, original verse to show that the Christmas holiday does not amount to government establishment of religion:
“Christmas is about joy and giving and sharing.Now ain't that sweet. When Judge Dlott dismissed the case the local paper reported that "Santa Claus has at least temporarily saved Christmas, both for Christians and for others."
It is about the child within us; it is mostly about caring.
There is room in this country and in all our hearts, too,
for different convictions and a day off, too.”
The actual goal in this case was to remove the religious nature of Christmas from our culture. Thirteen years later, I think the plaintiff's motives have been wholly met and then some. Judge Dlott justified her ruling with the spine-tingling claim that no reasonable person would see the federal holiday as an endorsement of Christianity in particular or religion in general. Did you get that? No reasonable person would see Christmas as an endorsement of Christianity. Ganulin may have lost his battle in 1998, but in 2011 his side has the war completely in hand.
Santa has crawled into the crib.
So that's why I say we let him have it. I say we take the Christ out of Christmas.
Let them have the pepper spray in the Walmarts and the stampedes through the shopping malls. Let them have the little lights that work when you test them but not when you plug them in. Let them have the frustration and the dramatically higher suicide rate. Let them have their "celebrity advent calendars." Let them have the pressure to get "the right gift." Let them have the stress. Let them have the the unprecedented level of debt that skyrockets during the "holiday season." Let them have the marketing mayhem. Let them have their "Happy Holidays."
I don't want Christ to win this battle.
Christmas is about the miracle of a God so big, He chose to shrink Himself to save us. It's not about "Peace on Earth;" it's about Peace with Earthlings. It's not about us being "happy;" it's about us being treated unfairly -- we deserve wrath but we get forgiveness. Christmas is not about "the child within us;" it's about rebel that is us. Christmas is not about us being cheerful givers of gifts; it's about the God of the Universe coming to die on a splintered cross.
Christmas doesn't want Christ because a God who demands repentance isn't marketable. Christmas doesn't deserve Him ...
... and I don't want Christ in what Christmas has become.