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The War on the Meaning of Christmas

*subhead*Watch out Halloween!*subhead*
I recently saw a Jon Stewart monologue that really got me thinking. Stewart was making fun of Fox News' "War on Christmas." Stewart asks how could there possibly be a "War on Christmas" when Christmas, as a holiday, has become so bloated that this year it finally took over Thanksgiving. In 2012, before the turkey was even cold, Americans flocked to the stores to buy Christmas gifts on the new consumer holiday called Black Thursday.

What other holiday gets so much media? My cable guide is filled with endless Christmas specials of my favorite shows. Christmas music gets its own radio stations dedicated to such crimes as "Dominick the Italian Christmas Donkey" (I am Italian, by the way) and Justin Bieber's version of "The Little Drummer Boy." And we are subjected to some of the worst music ever made not just for a week or two, but for a whole month or more. (I feel so sorry for the people who have to work places that pipe in that garbage. I think they should strike.)

Stewart ends by telling Halloween to watch its back. A wise admonition since we all have seen Christmas decorations on display right next to Halloween costumes and candy.

Upon some serious reflection, I discovered I agreed with Stewart. There is no "War on Christmas," the increasingly secular holiday. How could there be when Christmas has expanded its waistline so dramatically that it has finally eaten Thanksgiving?

I realized that instead there is a "War on the Meaning of Christmas." We have all heard the stories of the "Holiday Pageants" where kids are only allowed to sing "White Christmas" and "Rocking Around the Christmas Tree." No "Silent Night" or "God Rest Ye Merry Gentleman" allowed. Or municipalities that will not allow a nativity on public grounds. And yet all around are twinkling lights, bad music and the "Lowest Prices of the Year!" For the majority it seems, Christmas is a secular holiday devoid of its true meaning: the celebration of the birth of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

I believe the "War on the Meaning of Christmas" and the Christmas season's urban-sprawl-like expansion are linked. I see it like I do ice cream. It only takes a few bites of full-fat, full-sugar ice cream to satisfy. It's the real deal. But take the nearly fat-free, sugar-free stuff and it may take the whole carton to reach the same level of satisfaction. And you are left with a bad after-taste.

The more the true meaning of Christmas is forgotten, the more gigantic the holiday has to become to satisfy. The secular Christmas also leaves that bad after-taste of gluttonous consumerism.

My family calls me the "ba-hum-bug." I will not allow Thanksgiving weekend to be interrupted by sales and Christmas decorations. We deck the halls only after the first Sunday of Advent. I do not play any Christmas music in my car until a week or so before Christmas and even then it has to be good, sacred Christmas music. (Sorry Biebs, but you just don't cut it.)

And for all my attempts to try and keep the "full-fat, full sugar" version of Christmas, I am seen as the Christmas downer. So be it. Because when Christmas Eve arrives, I am ready to celebrate. Ready to sing carols with abandon. Ready to be merry with family and friends. Ready to experience the joy and wonder of the birth of Christ. All without that nasty after-taste.

The "War on the Meaning of Christmas" continues. It will no doubt escalate along with the trampling of our religious rights. As more of the true meaning of Christmas is lost, I expect the secular Christmas to become like "The Blob" devouring everything in its path. All I can say is, "Watch out Halloween. You are next!"

Rebecca Taylor blogs at Mary Meets Dolly

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The Byzantine Bandit said...

Great post!

R. León said...

I've always maintained that there is no war on Christmas, it's a war on Christianity.

priest's wife said...

beautiful! One of the signs of the 'war on the meaning of Christmas' is the fact that people stop celebrating on Decemeber 26th- I say- GIVE ME 12 DAYS of CHRISTMAS!

Clayton Orr said...

This is why devout families desperately need to separate themselves from the secular celebration of the holiday. It should be fun, yes, and a happy time of year, but perhaps some prohibitions on expensive gifts, on early decorations, etc. I think that a love for what is simple and self-made is the best gift a parent can give their children for Christmas.

Muscovite said...

I agree with priest's wife. We don't generally put up a tree until Christmas Eve, and then I always want to be able to celebrate at least the Octave of Christmas; twelve days is better, but with the fluctuating date for the Epiphany these days, it's almost impossible to make *that* work. I expect to be "out of sync" with the secular and retail worlds, but most of the Christian world also acts as if the Incarnation ends at midnight on Dec. 25.

In that vein, if I can beg the patience of the blog authors, I'll make a plug for some good Advent music done by our little schola. It's free to listen to, and you can listen to the whole album, not just the first 30 seconds of each song: http://staugustinesschola.bandcamp.com

Sophia's Favorite said...

Jon Stewart is froth-mouthed anti-Christian bigot who only remembers he's Jewish when he needs something to hide from criticism behind.

Unknown said...

At least at home, we can create our little Advent oasis and save Christmas for its proper placement. In addition, I have taken to putting an Advent wreath clip art on the outside of my work locker to counteract the multitude of secular Christmas decorations that go up the day after Thanksgiving. Ironically, my atheist co-worker is the one who took over the decorating.

Elizabeth said...

Let's call the commercialized Christmas a potlatch. We'd have to check it out with the native Americans first...

Nan said...

@Unk, perfectly fine for an atheist to decorate for secular Christmas. It's all about the dinner and presents anyway.

Bartley's said...

great article. Although I enjoy taking the whole month of december to prepare for christmas day, and then we celebrate the 12days of christmas. I think of Advent, as the nesting period a mother goes through before her child is born. We get the clothes ready, wash them, fold them, awe and oooh over every little outfit. We get the nursery ready or our bedroom ready if we are cosleeping. We make meals to stock the freezer and we clean clean clean. I enjoy taking my time to decorate my tree and listen to christmas music while a bake. I love looking at the decorations all month long and then for 12 days more. Everything is beautiful this time of year, and it's all for our Jesus' birthday.

Ellyn said...

I definitely think horrible Christmas music in the workplace should be some sort of OSHA violation. Having to stand around a retail establishment and deal with irritable customers all to the tune of Barbra Streisand's "Jingle Bells" or that mawkish Christmas shoes song may even be a violation of the Geneva Convention.

Also, as someone who grew up in a family that put the tree up on December 24, I still find the sight of trees on the curb on December 26 to be outrageously sad.

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