There are as many beliefs as there are stars. Countless. Everyone believes something, even when their belief is that they believe nothing. As we filter through the various holidays, each one is celebrated (or not) in accordance with our beliefs. Right now we are entering the Christmas holiday season. For people all over the world, this special holiday means so many things and most of them positive. But not all.
I get tired of the arguments on how to publicly handle greetings, parting wishes and comments during the Christmas season. Do we say “Merry Christmas”? Do we say, “Happy Holidays”? Do we say nothing at all? I say … say what you want! If the spirit for which you give the comment is done with the best of intentions and the receiver chooses to negate the exchange, do not think you must change your feelings and responses to please the negative one. Some people are so caught up in their own beliefs, thoughts and ideas that they are not willing to entertain any others. Indeed, some of them will simply not tolerate a differing point of view! Behavior like that is not fit to rule over society. Sadly, those are the ones who seem to be controlling things more often than not.
I remember reading an article not too long ago about a woman who complained about a crucifix hanging on a cathedral wall. A college was to hold their graduation ceremony at this cathedral (as they had done for many years) and this woman (who was obviously not a Christian) decided she was offended by the crucifix and filed a complaint. What surprises me is the strong support she got for her request to remove or hide the (offending) crucifix! Why? How is a simple item (not meant in any way, shape or form to offend anyone) truly hurting this person? What about the rights of all the other people who wish for the cross to remain? When the intention of a symbol is not for the purpose of degradation or insults, then what is the problem? Seriously. When I see symbols of religions to which I take no part, I am not the least bit offended by them. I see them as symbols for someone else’s faith and that is it. The symbol, to me anyway, is meaningless and so I feel no offense. If the symbol had power to hurt me, I would certainly object but there are no symbols that I know of which can cause injury to a person.
But I digress. Christians the world over celebrate this time of year to honor of the birth of their savior. Even among Christians, the holiday is celebrated in diverse ways. That’s fine. Celebrate it however you want. It’s pretty cool, though, that a few million of us all celebrate it similarly. What I cannot fathom is why those who do not celebrate this holiday have the right to impose restrictions on those of us that do. I wouldn’t dream of telling someone of another faith what to do or not do to honor their traditions and beliefs.
As for what we should say or what we should call it…well, Christmas is Christmas. It isn’t a nondescript “holiday”. It has meaning to people. Over the centuries, people have adopted practices and traditions to celebrate this holy event … the birth of Jesus. That is what Christmas is about … in part. We’ve added a few more things to it and that’s fine. It’s our right as individuals. For those who do not believe in Jesus and who do not celebrate the holiday in any way, that’s fine. Carry on. But leave everyone else alone. Don’t impose your beliefs on others. I don’t try to press people to believe my religious and spiritual views and I expect others to do the same.
I am amazed that some people call Christmas a “pagan” holiday and turn up their disdainful noses at the practices some of us hold dear. Regardless how the traditions started, what matters is the spirit of the intent NOW. Some people may celebrate the Christmas season in tradition of pagan rituals. All the power to them. It’s their right to do so. Some don’t believe in Jesus and do not celebrate a “non-event”. Fine, all the power to you. The fact is, each and every one of us has the right to celebrate anything we want however we want.
There are groups who love to complain that the Christmas tree, the stockings and poor Santa have nothing to do with Christmas. That’s fine…for them. But for those who like to differ on the subject, well that’s fine too! If you think the tree has no place in Christmas, then don’t have a tree. But please, don’t begrudge those of us that do!! There are some who say that Santa has no place in the Christmas story. Fine, don’t have anything to do with the jolly ole fellow. But leave the rest of us that do want to play along alone! No, Santa isn’t in the bible. He is in our hearts, our minds, our make-believe world. He’s a pretense at magic and wonder and love. What’s so wrong with that? Some say, because Santa takes the focus off of the Lord. How so? I know people who are very devoted to the Lord, whose focus is very much upon him and yet they ALSO have a tree, give gifts and take their children to see Santa. If someone isn’t focusing on the Lord, that is that person’s business, not anyone else’s. Yes, the spirit of Christmas has become more than the birth of the Lord but I hardly doubt that’s an unforgivable sin. It’s all done in love and gosh, isn’t that what God wants most? For us to share the love? And if by chance the good Lord does have a problem with how Christmas is celebrated, well then he’ll take it up with the offenders when they meet at the pearly gates.
The only time I think celebrations should be restricted is when injuries to persons or damage to property could occur. Hazing for example. That is a celebration of a sort. Hazing has the potential for physical harm and there should be restrictions on those activities. Saying “Merry Christmas” is not going to cause physical harm. Such a greeting means only this: “May you be merry and happy right now!! Or it means, “May you be merry and rejoice during this time of Jesus’s birth!” or it means “May you be merry during this time of no import” (it’s all a matter of perception and how you choose to perceive this greeting when given it). However it’s meant, the wish for “merry” is at its heart. Truly, there is no offense meant or intended when someone graciously utters these words. And another thing: having a tree is not going to cause harm to anyone but the poor tree. Giving presents and sitting on Santa’s lap is not going to cause injury to anyone or make a child a non-believer of the Christian faith.
Although it’s become very commercialized with the retailers, people are looking for ways to make Christmas special to them and the loved ones in their lives. I no longer buzz about frantically, looking for the perfect gift. I rarely find it and I probably can’t afford it. I used to do that and get all stressed out. Now I try to think of something thoughtful to give because it gives me pleasure to give. And I also do a lot of baking! Everyone loves to eat. I listen to the music because its so uplifting and I put up my lights because they are pretty and I enjoy looking at them. On Christmas day, I love to watch the family open their presents and then we enjoy a good meal together. It’s a day to celebrate love. It’s a day to celebrate the birth of Jesus. Or not. It’s yours to celebrate however you wish.
May you have a joyous and Merry Christmas!! Blessings and peace out.
A little humor for your added pleasure: The silliness of being “politically correct”