This year I’ve grown more aware of the four Christmases in my life: (1) the religious holiday which I celebrate with church, family, and like-minded friends; (2) the nostalgic traditions which I love but honestly have little to do with my faith and everything to do with growing up in an awesome family; (3) the commercialization that can leave me numb; and (4) the tiresome cultural war in which I feel pity for some of the participants. It’s really not too hard to enjoy the first two while largely ignoring the latter two. ‘Tis the season for compartmentalization!
I might add a fifth Christmas, in the guilty pleasures department: the ironic/cynical/post-modern (?) humor that’s emerged over the past decade or so. I’m thinking Mr. Hankey’s Christmas Classics, Woodland Critter Christmas, Red Sleigh Down, etc. Sometimes mockery is the best antidote to stupidity (see #4 above).
Jonah Goldberg makes an excellent point which I think argues for not getting too worked up about it all in “there’s more than one front in the war on Christmas.”
I have no grand solutions. I don’t know how you could pass a law to fix any of this. Nor am I sure we would want to. This is a cultural problem, and the only way to fix it is to work it out in the culture. To that end, I have some small observations to mull alongside the eggnog.
While it’s absolutely true that there are sincere and committed Christophobes and joyless atheistic boobs out there, one of the major culprits is capitalism itself. I like capitalism — a lot. Heck, the best Christmas present I could get would be a Scrooge-like conversion on the part of the president after a visit from the Ghost of Socialism Past. But the downside of capitalism is that it will, eventually, encourage the commercialization of everything sacred. For instance, there’s an online “dating” company dedicated entirely to facilitating adultery. It shouldn’t surprise anyone that a holiday symbolized by a man who gives presents would be exploited. That doesn’t mean we have to surrender to the trend, but we should recognize all of the trend’s sources, not just the convenient ones.
On a different note, the supposed champions of making Christmas more “inclusive” should at least ponder the irony that they are being intolerant. If you take offense when someone says “Merry Christmas,” you, quite simply, are the jerk.
And for the atheists who see “winter solstice” as some kind of victory, you might consider the fact that what you’re doing is clearing the field not for glorious logic (which ain’t so glorious Christmas morning — socks are a logical gift), but a rank, petty, and vastly more commercialized paganism that lacks anything like the intellectual and moral rigor of Christianity.