Sunday, November 25, 2007

Merry Christmas or Happy Holidays?

Well, it's that time of year again. Television specials and commercials, music in the malls, red and green store displays, lighted houses and decorated street lights, and the ongoing controversy over how we should wish each other well. Do you say, "Merry Christmas" or "Happy Holidays?"

I tend to be a bit on the Ba-Humbug side when Christmas rolls around. Especially when it starts rolling around right after Labor Day. I think we make way too big a fuss. The day we celebrate that is supposed to be all about peace on earth brings anything but peace.

Yesterday, Rick and I ventured out to an outlet mall in a nearby town. Traffic entering the mall area was backed up for a mile and a dozen perturbed police officers risked their lives in the middle of intersections waving and swinging their arms like windmills in a hurricane. We drove around and around looking not for an up-close parking place, but ANY parking place. As we zig-zagged back and forth through the parking lot I saw one poor lady, in heels mind you, scaling a very steep sandy embankment as she returned to her car. She carried one small sack. I felt her pain and hoped that the gift she carried was for her mother. Only a mother would appreciate that kind of effort put into purchasing a gift. We finally found a parking spot -- up the same embankment -- which was a couple of blocks away from the mall. We waited patiently with our blinker on for the car occupying the space to back out. Coming from the opposite direction was a lady who had that look on her face that made us think she just might be willing to fight us for the spot. Our truck was bigger than her automobile, so we won.

We walked the long way to the mall. I really had no desire to slide down the embankment on my backside. As we entered the mall area, I could hardly believe my eyes. Thousands of people crowded the stores and spilled over the walkways. There was a "wait" to get into the Coach purse store. We shuffled and bumped along the sidewalk, pushed our way into a couple of stores, then exasperated, hiked back up the hill to the truck. Wow. Tis the season to be jolly! I mumbled fa la la la la all the way home.

Yes, I think we make way too big a fuss over Christmas. I don't recall any scripture that commands us to celebrate the birth of our Lord. On the other hand, the book of Luke records the words of Christ which tell us to remember his broken body and spilled blood. For it was His death and resurrection, His sacrifice that saves us, not His birth alone. So, I struggle with so much emphasis placed on this season we call Christmas. Therefore, the controversy over Merry Christmas vs. Happy Holidays is a perplexing matter for me.

It saddens me that some power outside my own seems to make every attempt to remove Christ from our culture. I have joined other believers in signing petitions and contacting corporate big wigs in effort to keep the reference of Christ in the December holiday, but I'm not getting on my soap box about it. I guess I see it as a sign of the last days in which we live. I don't care what you call it, Christmas or Santa's Big Day, a label will not change the hearts of men. As long as we focus on buying gifts, being merry, and yes, even the birth of the Christ Child, the sinful wicked hearts of men and women will remain unbroken and unchanged. Only when we see and admit our sinful condition, realize the real cost of true and everlasting peace, then accept the sacrificial love of our Creator and Lord will Christ be welcomed in our culture.

So, is it that big of a deal? I heard a pastor once say during a children's sermon, "Just because someone calls you stupid, does that make you stupid?" Just because we call the day "Christmas," does that make Christ our focus? Or if we call the entire period of time between Thanksgiving and the beginning of the new year "Holidays," does that mean that we do not acknowledge Christ as our savior? Each must examine for himself the condition of his heart and decide how he wants to label the season of gift giving, festive parties, and twinkling lights.

I am comforted by Philippians 2:9-11. "Wherefore also God highly exalted him, and gave unto him the name which is above every name; that in the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven and thing on earth and things under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father." (ASV) No matter what you call it, Jesus is still Lord, and some day EVERY tongue will confess that fact, like it or not. So in the end... we win! Merry Christmas and happy holidays. May all your days be filled with charity, hope and peace.


Brittney said...

It seems like we almost feel the same way about this time of the year. This past Friday as I was shopping with my sister and mother and my niece, Stephanie ask me if we wanted to exchange gifts this year. My answer was no. The reason. I have so much stuff that I really don't even want or need, its just clutter in my house. The things that I want cannot be bought at a store. I want love, respect, health and happiness. I want my husband and children to be happy with the choices that they make. These things cannot be bought. I often wonder what would happen if for some reason the retail stores did not open at midnight on Friday after Thanksgiving or at 5 a.m Friday morning. Would the world really come to a screaching halt. The women that I work with were talking about all this hoopla at work Wed. None of us planned on being at the stores at that time. Is it because of the guilt that we fill because of the way we treat each other, or don't spend time with one another that we feel that material things will make us happy. They really don't make me happy. So this year when someone asks me what I want I just have to look them in the eyes and say that I am easy to please, hard to shop for.

Talkin' Texan said...

We've always agreed on many things. Good minds think alike! :)

Brittney said...

Yes, it is wonderful how great minds do think alike. Now is only we could get others to think like us this world might be a better place. (LOL!!!!)

Louise said...

Hey Sis,
I bet my commenting is a surprise to you. This is out of my comfort zone--blogging that is--but with 2 teenage daughters, it better become like second nature. That will probably be the communication of choice.

I am blue because I just turned down a chance to sing because I am so busy I have no time to pick out a song--much less practice. I want to cry. I am losing who I am for what the ranch wants, the girls want, etc. You know the feeling.

Looks like Cristy's mom and dad are joinging us for Christmas. They have never had a chance to be with the kids on Christmas and after 9 years, it is about time. I invited them to join us and they are taking us up on it.

I will try to read your blog now; just had to write before I ran out of time.

Love ya, Sis,

Talkin' Texan said...

My sweet sister, take a look at my post "Who Am I." Don't lose your identity. ;) I know how you feel. About the time you figure out who the "new you" is, your circumstances change and others' expectations of you change, then you are back to not knowing who you are supposed to be again. So the topic of next blog... True identity. Love ya.

Deanna said...

I think I have run the gamut on Merry Christmas vs. Happy Holidays...and now it just doesn't matter. I was raised with traditional Christmas celebrations. Even as a young adult I would be giddy with excitement over decorating, buying gifts, parties, holiday food, etc. And certainly the only greeting was "Merry Christmas".

Then after we became Christians, we went to the other extreme...destroyed decorations and refused to celebrate the traditional holiday. You know how this went over with our families. During that time I could only say "Happy Holidays".

After a few difficult years of that, it all just became not too important. I believe we should celebrate Jesus every day, not just one day of the year that we call His birthday. I think we should be kind all year, not just one day.

We still don't decorate. I'm not sure why now, but I think it's because it's so much work...and then twice as hard to un-decorate and whatever pleasure I might get is just not worth all that effort. And I might not get that much pleasure anyway. Besides we're almost never home for the Christmas holidays. I will note that this is much easier for me to do than for most people because I don't have children. I do think the decorations of others are pretty, and I'm surely not offended by them, but they're not very important to me.

I don't enjoy buying gifts anymore because usually we are all buying clutter for each other. I think it's pointless to spend so much time and money for things that people often don't even want.

The dynamics of our current "traditional" celebration have changed the last few years because of the death of a family member, so most of us are no longer sure of what the current year's celebration will bring. It's not the same...but it's not bad either. We love the ones who are there and miss the ones who are not. The last few years instead of buying gifts for everyone, we've played the Dirty Santa game, and it's usually pretty fun...much easier to buy a generic gift...and I challenge myself to buy gifts that will not be clutter...sometimes food, wine or the like. I am very hard to please for other gift givers because I hate clutter and don't like to cook or clean. That leaves out decorative items, kitchenware and such. I love gift certificates or money because I usually have my eye on something.

I kind of enjoy the way we celebrate now. I'm not tied to spending hours shopping and decorating and actually have time to enjoy the season. And I can say whatever I want...Merry Christmas...Happy Holidays...or I can shout "Christmas gift!" when we first arrive at a celebration (just for fun).

Deanna said...

I am sure enjoying your blogs. Not only does it give me a chance to know you, but I get to reply so you'll know me just as well. What fun!

Talkin' Texan said...

I love it..."Christmas Gift!" My mother's family used to do that when I was a kid. Something about the first one that said it got the first gift or something? I can't remember the details, I just know when we knocked on my grandmother's door, mom would remind us to yell "Christmas Gift!" lol

I don't usually tell people "Happy Holidays" because that seems so generic. I do acknowledge Christ by saying Merry Christmas. I just grow weary of so much controversy over it--we should put so much energy into winning the lost and giving to the poor.

Yes, I like getting to know each other through my blog. It is fun! :) Thanks for all your comments. I look forward to more as you read through.

Deanna said...

Shouting "Christmas gift"...the tradition behind it for our family was that when you saw someone on Christmas Day, if you said it first, that person was required to give you a gift. It was never something that was followed through with...just a funny way to compete with each other...mostly between my aunts and uncles. In later years, when we would arrive in Houston for Christmas (at Randy's sister's home), my bro-in-law and I were the competitive ones, so I was always trying to yell it first!

Talkin' Texan said...

Yeah! That was it! Now I know why I remember shouting it a million times to everybody in the house. I wanted a gift from EVERYBODY! :)
Thanks for bringing back sweet Christmas memories.