Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Happy Holidays!

Everybody realizes by now that the terribly offensive phrase Merry Christmas has been subtly removed from practically everything, and I will admit that I understand the reasoning. When I check out at a store and a person tells me "Happy Holidays" I politely respond with a "Merry Christmas." They have the right to say happy holidays, and I have the right to say merry Christmas. I disagree with the conscientious effort to remove references to Christmas (let's just be honest, holiday lights just sounds stupid; you don't decorate for the holidays, you decorate for Christmas), but there is a freedom of speech that cannot be ignored.

With that said, on the day after Christmas (excuse me, the day after holiday) someone told me "Happy New Year." Wait a minute, what if New Year offends me? It is no secret that I don't watch the ball drop or even stay up until midnight on New Year's Eve, so I shouldn't have to suffer through a cashier telling me to have a happy new year, should I?

If "happy holidays" is just a generic way of summing up all of the occasions of the season, then why are they allowed to specifically mention New Years? Let's just call it what it is and admit that this is an anti-Christian way of removing the birth of Christ from our culture.

If we cannot acknowledge Christmas, then why did I not get my mail on December 25th (or 24!)? If I were an atheist I would be a little offended that the government is honoring the holiday.

If we are going to be this immature as a nation then from now on there should be no more references to Valentine's Day, Martin Luther King Jr., Day, President's Day, Independence Day, Labor Day, Memorial Day, or any other event. Either they are all merely holidays, or they are to be recognized for what they are. Christmas is a holy day, and whether society likes it or not, Jesus was born. The government tried to put a stop to it back then, so we should not expect anything different now.

Happy New Year!

(Read Christmas Music and Was Jesus Born on December25th?)


Michelle said...

Nice to hear someone voicing my own sentiments in such an articulate way! (Hi Tommy, this is Mrs. Holser... Congratulations on your beautiful family, by the way.)

bmann24 said...

While it is certainly silly the attempts to replace the name of Christ with "holiday", what is truly rediculous and heartbreaking is the gross consumerism that has come to define the humble birth of the One born in a manger. In the 1920's, Christians protested the fact that a time of holy remembrance was being turned into a season of marketing and consumerism. These days we only protest that the consumerism is no longer being offered in the name of Christ.

I read of a pastor who, for his church's Christmas service, spread hay and manure under all the pews in his sanctuary. As the unsuspecting congregation came in dressed in their Christmas best, they came face to face with the "reason for the season" and the reality of what it must have been like for the Savior to enter the world, far from the shopping malls, as a refugee who found no room in an inn.

There are signs beginning to emerge, though, that Christians are looking for new ways to celebrate the season that is not cluttered with the noise of shopping or infected with the myth that happiness must be purchased.

We as Christians need to say "no" to the $450 billion spent on Christmas last year and instead remember the poor, the refugees, the invisible people abused all over the world making the products we buy in the name of the one born in the manger.

Movements like Buy Nothing Christmas, and The Advent Conspiracy have grown into huge movements "Restoring the scandal of Christmas by worshipping Jesus in compassion, not consumption." On their website they say, "While we are not living under Herod's reign, there is another empire of consumerism and materialism that threatens our faithfulness to Jesus. Jesus brought with Him such an extraordinary Kingdom that is counter-cultural to the kingdoms of this world."

Thats the Christmas we love. These movements (and my post) are not meant to be a rant against consumerism so much as an invitation to renew our minds. If all of us who call ourselves believers, if all who claim to be celebrating the birth of our Savior took the $781 we each spend on Christmas (on the average) and used it to really bless the people we love, or those less fortunate, the world around us may begin to take notice. Perhaps when they see in us that the most precious things in our lives cannot be bought, sold, or stolen, and that we are happiest when we are living to give what we have away, maybe they will wish us a "Merry Christmas". But they will certainly see in us the one we celebrate all year, and maybe even want to celebrate Him too.

Tommy Mann said...

There is nothing wrong with buying Christmas presents. I agree that many people have their priorities mixed up when it comes to Christmas, but the answer in not found in going to the opposite end and refusing to purchase anything at all.
After my last post I was told not to try to mandate my morality on a lost culture, so it is funny that you are using national consumer spending statistics to make your point--money that the lost culture is spending.
Organizations that encourage people not to buy anything are missing the point. These are the same people that are opposed to churches making a building payment because that money could be given to the poor (which is what Judas Iscariot said too); if these people really believed that then they should only eat PB&J's and give the rest of their money to the poor. Instead they eat normal meals and criticize the church's spending.
The answer is not in a Christmas boycott; I bought and received a few presents this year, and had fun doing it. And as a family we celebrated the birth of Jesus, being thankful and worshipful for all He has done for us. Like everything in life, the key is in the balance, not going overboard to make a statement.
I do admire your refusal to agree with a post, no matter how obviously right I am (j/k).

bmann24 said...

I do very often agree with posts, including pretty much your entire response to mine. I also bought a few gifts and enjoyed giving and receiving this year, as well as celebrating the first Christmas with my new family. I don't think it is considered consumerism to do this, and I am not advocating a complete break from the giving and receiving. As I re-read my post I must admit that I may have sounded like an advocate for going the complete other direction, and I did not intend to sound like I was pushing for a complete Christmas boycott.

In defense of what I wrote, though, I must clarify a couple of things. First, nowhere in my writing did I call for our culture to stop spending money on Christmas. I said that what our consumer culture has done is make Christmas into a HUGE chance to make money, and we as believers would do best to avoid it. I even said that we as Christians should be the ones to break from this silliness - not calling for secular society to stop.

Secondly, I find it ironic that you mention that these groups calling for believers to simplify their celebrations should eat PB&J's and give the rest of the money away. The group that leads The Advent Conspiracy is The Simple Way Community in Philly - a group which gives away everything they have to live in solidarity with the poor and hurting in their neighborhoods. These groups are also calling only Christians to simplify - not the lost culture.

The whole point of my writing was to argue that what Christmas has become in our secular culture could very well be just called holiday. It has really nothing to do with the birth of Jesus, but we as believers have too often been swept up in it instead of inviting our neighbors into a radical alternative. We have been the ones who have missed the point, becoming upset that CEO's have instructed their employees to wish "happy holidays" (which does indeed bother me too), instead of modeling a celebration we can really wish a merry Christmas to.

Again, I agreed with your first post and your response. I don't plan on boycotting Christmas any time soon - just keeping it in perspective. Hey, I wouldn't be having any fun if I wasn't trying to stir up trouble. I really just like throwing things out there and inviting people to stretch themselves and think from different perspectives.

Tommy Mann said...

Thank you Mrs. Holser! Great to hear from you.

Tommy Mann said...

Looking back on this blog almost a year later, I was thinking about the people who don't celebrate Christmas (I've never actually known one, but on the offchance that they do exist I'll consider their viewpoint). They don't want to be told Merry Christmas because they don't like Christmas.

But as I previously stated, I don't see the point of New Years celebration, but I don't cry if someone tells me Happy New Year. In the same way, I don't know anyone who likes Mondays; in fact, they are the brunt of every workers joke. Should we make a law that says no cashieres are allowed to tell people to have a good day on Mondays? That is all we are doing when we say Merry Christmas. Whether you are a Christian or not is not the point; when Christmas day comes, I hope it a good day for you. What is so offensive about that?

Alicia the Wife said...

The name of Christ still intimidates people.

(taken from that neat song that apparently has been playing for quite some time, but I just now heard it)