My latest for the Longview News Journal
Black Friday has come and gone; amid the tales of super sales and throngs of people, stories were reported about injuries and fights. For me, saving a few bucks is not worth the lines, the waiting and the hustle.
Whether we like it or not, the holiday season is upon us. In the Christian liturgical calendar (how the church tells time), Advent began this year on Nov. 27. Advent is the season of waiting and expecting the coming of the Christ child on Christmas Day.
Maybe it’s just me, but it seems like every year Christmas decorations are being put up earlier and earlier thus losing the magic and the expectation that Advent has to bring.
Children hold on to the magic, wonder and awe that comes with the season of Christmas. We adults, on the other hand, tend make it a chore. It doesn’t have to be this way.
It seems at some point leading up to Christmas Day someone has an issue with the way a store or company celebrates the holidays. A few years ago, the American Family Association made an online list of companies that said “Happy Holidays” instead of “Merry Christmas.” They wanted people to boycott these establishments as a way of protesting their “censoring of Christmas.”
Last year an online minister disliked Starbuck’s new holiday cups and demanded that “faithful Christians” force Christmas back on to the red paper cups; he asked people to tell the barista that their name was “Merry Christmas.” After the election President-elect Donald Trump declared it was going to be “safe” to say Merry Christmas again.
Many people believe that there is a full out “war on Christmas.” Well, I would have to say that is correct but not for the reasons you would think.
The real “war on Christmas” is not when a cashier says “Happy Holidays” or when people refer to a Christmas tree as a “Holiday Tree.”
The real “war on Christmas” is when Christians support the overspending and mass consumption propagated by our “spend, spend, spend” culture.
The real “war on Christmas” is when we reduce this holiday to a feeling or a moment.
The real “war on Christmas” is when we equate our love for someone by how big the price tag of the gift is.
The real “war on Christmas” is when people only think about doing charity work in December.
The real “war on Christmas” is teaching our children or grandchildren the “reason for the season” but make it more about toys and gifts under the tree.
The real “war on Christmas” is when we are more worried about saving a buck than we are about the millions of people in our country and around the world without access to proper housing or medicine or that there are more than 22,000 homeless children in New York City alone.
The real “war on Christmas” is when Americans spend $450 billion on Christmas; however, it would take only $20 billion to ensure that all people in the world could have access to clean water for a year.
The real “war on Christmas” is when Americans buy products because they are cheap without thinking twice about the person who made it, their working conditions, their pay or even their age.
Don’t get me wrong. I love Christmas, and I love hearing the story of Christ coming to the world. I love sharing that story with my family and seeing how the “spirit of Christmas” comes to life in my children’s hearts and minds. However, the act of acquiring things should not be the central focus of Christmas. Neither is worrying about what catch phrase people say in a store or the decoration of a paper cup.
It is not the cashier’s job to share the church’s story of God coming to the world. This story of the incarnation of God is my story to tell, the church’s story to tell, all of Christ’s followers story to tell.
Christmas has the power to make a profound and lasting difference in the world today. Imagine what we could do if we chose this Christmas to share our love in ways that cannot be wrapped and placed under a tree. What if we took some of the money that we would have spent on each other and gave it to people who were in need — then Christmas could change the world.
Let’s call a metaphoric “cease fire” and stop this so-called “war on Christmas.” We have some work to do and story to proclaim.