I am somehow both astonished and not at all surprised at the so-called “War on Christmas” that has again surfaced in the public consciousness. This time around the epicenter of the quake is a red paper coffee cup. In years past I recall that the storm was all about whether or not it was appropriate for people working in stores to wish their customers “Merry Christmas”.
There is a Real War on Christmas that’s been going on for a long time. It’s obvious and it’s subtle. It’s taking place thousands of miles from here and it’s taking place a very short walk from wherever you are. It’s all around us and it’s within us.
We declare War on Christmas when accept that buying things in stores is what the season is all about. When we accept that “that’s just the world we live in” and conform to the social expectation that says “shop ‘til you drop” we declare War on Christmas. When we wait in line for the hour the door opens to storm into some big box store for Black Friday “deals” we declare War on Christmas. The ensuing mad rush to get something off the shelf before someone else can is the modern blitzkrieg in the War on Christmas.
We engage in War on Christmas when we hold onto our resentments and refuse to forgive on the grounds that those who have wronged us don’t deserve it. We stay at War with Christmas when we keep our hearts hardened and cling to our belief that we are “right” and anyone who doesn’t see it our way can take a long walk off a short pier. When we don’t consider the equal dignity of all who are not practicing Christians we also guilty of waging War on Christmas. We perpetuate this war by the arrogant assumption that ours is a “Christian Nation” and if someone doesn’t have a membership card to the “club” they’ll just have to scrape by as best they can. Or they are told to “go back to wherever they came from if they don’t like it here”. Allegiance to the “us vs. them” propaganda is jet fuel on the fire in the War on Christmas.
We put an end to the war on Christmas when we slow down enough to smile and say a kind word to people we don’t know as well as to those we love most dearly. We put an end to the War on Christmas when we remember that every human being everywhere is our brother and sister. We end this war when we live up to our birthright as creatures made out of love, made for love, and designed to love each other and ourselves. We end the war when we no longer allow ourselves to be blinded by our hatred and fear. We end it when we connect to the truth that every one of us is part of and belongs to all of creation. Peace is ours when we realize that we are all part of the same crazy, wonderful, and mysterious family.
So drink your coffee from any cup of any color that makes your heart sing. Wish anyone you like a “Merry Christmas”. Or smile and wish them “Happy holidays”. Or if you want to be particularly subversive you can wish people “Happy Holy Days”. Or just smile and wish them a “Good day!”. But don’t mistake Christmas for something that comes from a coffee shop or a retail store.