Friday, December 17, 2010

Onward, Christian Soldiers

Have you heard any of the press about "the war on Christmas?" I heard about it on Patt Morrison yesterday on KPCC.

Apparently some people are up in arms (it's a war after all) because they prefer to hear "Merry Christmas" instead of "Season's Greetings" or "Happy Holidays." They want to see red and green--none of this blue stuff (that's Jewish!) or orange (what is that, Kwanzaa?) or--does Ashura have a color? What color signifies fasting? I think that would just be clear.

Okay now, hang on a second. I think we have enough things to get freaked out about. Do we really need to get upset over this? We're talking about Jesus Christ's birthday, here, so let's ask ourselves, what would Jesus do?

I think Jesus would wish us a happy Chanukah.

If someone wishes me a merry something or a happy something, they're wishing me well. It doesn't matter if it's something I celebrate. I don't celebrate Kwanzaa, for example, but if you wish me a happy Kwanzaa, I'll take it. It's almost Kwanzaa whether I celebrate it or not, and I might as well be happy.

And as for that holiday parade in Tulsa, as a certain friend of mine would say, "Oh, for the love!" Calm down. It's Tulsa. It's not like we're talking about the liberal hotbed of America. We're talking about a town like every other town in the U.S.--a town where not everyone is a Christian, yet everyone's invited to the parade. At least that's the America I live in.

And I might just point out that when folks are worried about parades and lights, Santa and shopping, they're missing the point of Christmas anyway.

There's no war on Christmas. The only war going on in these quiet towns at this time of year is an imaginary war inside a few teeny, tiny minds.

35 comments:

Dina said...

ROFL! Your answer to WWJD? got me into a rolling laugh!

As a Jew I always find it funny that Americans fight over this every December. Why would it offend me that Christians celebrate Christmas with its real name?? Don't decaffeinate Christmas on my account, please.

Does the "This is not an exit" and the little figures indicating WC have something to do with PC? At first I saw only the stars in your photo.

ben wideman said...

Well said, Petrea.

klikkonthis said...

I concur!!

Mister Earl said...

Great topic, Petrea, and fun photo! As a Christmas bystander (Jew) for lo these many years, I think that Christ has been out of Christmas for a long, long time. I'm with Dina: I don't care if you wish me a Merry Christmas or whatever. Christmas has been dumbed down a little more every year.

We never had a Christmas tree. We were taught to respect others' traditions, while maintaining our own. Many Jews now have Christmas trees. I think they're disrespecting Christmas as much as the chain stores that are open Christmas day. But I love that Christians have Christmas trees. Among my favorite memories is going to Johnny Weidemeyer's house down the block. At Christmas time, the house always smelled of pine needles and American Flyer smoke pellets! What could be better than that to a six-year-old?

BaysideLife said...

Well said. Christ has been absent from Christmas for a long time. Today if anyone wishes me well, I don't really care what words they use. I'm just grateful for the warm greeting.

Linda Dove said...

As with most things, I think this is an issue of language. "Merry Christmas" and "Happy Holidays" say essentially the same thing, as derivatives of "Christ's Mass" and "Holy Day." Most Christians who are up in arms about this issue today are not Roman Catholics, for whom this argument over language might actually have some purchase. They are disconnected enough from the words not to realize their identical roots. Of course, one of my Facebook "friends" recently posted a diatribe about how we should be reading *only* the King James version of the bible because that was the text "of Jesus's day." Um. Right.

J+P said...

Every modern war needs its propaganda.

Trish said...

From what I gather, the issue non christians have, is the assumption of christianity by most. Wishing you a Merry Xmas is pushing the assumption that you celebrate the holiday. Considering the bombardment of the season, I don't blame folks for being on edge---on either side of the issue. Am I tired of being inundated every day with a ploy to purchase that perfect gift for someone I hardly know? Yup! Am I tired of being overrun with plugs to buy-buy-buy in the Xmas spirit? Yup. As I asked two ladies in Target almost a decade ago who complained about Chanukkah offerings amongst the Xmas stuff "what exactly does Winnie the Pooh (or Disney or, or, or) have to do with Xmas anyway?". Yeah, that's silence you hear from them.

And as I asked a lady in Costco yesterday who HADToEdgeMeOutForTheLastRoastedChickenOnTheHotRack----"Please tell me how Jesus would be proud of you celebrating His birthday in this manner? Merry F'in Xmas to you too!"

I did have a good laugh at your point---Jesus would be celebrating Chanukkah, perhaps. The minor holiday in this winterfest is important for these dark days. Tho, some, like the King James reader (or my cousin who claims He wasn't Jewish), miss the holy point.

Petrea said...

Thanks, everyone.

Dina, the signs in the photo are irrelevant, I just liked the picture.

I'm a "Christmas bystander" too, Earl, being a non-Christian, non-religious person. But I like the holiday season and enjoy it when people wish me a happy anything. And I'm offended by the idea that I should be excluded from civic celebrations because I'm not a Christian.

So Linda, was King James like, King Herod's buddy?

Petrea said...

Trish, you allude to "winterfest," which is really what this holiday has always been if we go back to the roots of it--the winter solstice. Happy solstice!

J+P said...

"And lo, Caiaphas did ride about Jerusalem aback his Diplodocus, and the Scholars were sore vexed, and the people afeared. And before the footfalls of the great steed, the facts were as the petals of the lotus, and did fall in obeisance to the whims of the Ignorant, the Unread and the Pharisees."

Becky said...

Well said!

Susan Campisi said...

Such silliness. Maybe we can find a more universal term, such as "Bah! Humbug!"

Linda Dove said...

No, King James was the English/Scottish king in the early seventeenth century. A good long while after Jesus walked the earth. But, hey, it's "old sounding" so it must be contemporary to Jesus, eh? I mean, what's a mere 1600 years? (Not to mention the difference between English and Aramaic/Hebrew...!)

Whatever. If Christian fundamentalists want to play the victim card, there's not much to be done. Claiming terms straight out of the Roman Catholic liturgy for their purposes is merely one tactic of many.

J+P said...

Nobody reads.

Petrea said...

I was kidding about King James. One of the many "Bible Editors"!

What? Jesus didn't speak English?

Petrea said...

I think some people read, J, they just don't happen to be Faux news reporters.

Linda Dove said...

You wouldn't believe how many students (usually in the course of making anti-immigration arguments) made the claim to me that "If English was good enough for Jesus, then it was good enough for him/her/us!"

How's that banana bread coming along? :)

Diana said...

I'm with you, Petrea. First people used to take offense if they were wished a "Merry Christmas" when they themselves celebrated some other holiday in December, so lots of people took to just saying "Happy Holidays." Now there's a backlash against that. Get a grip, people, and be grateful that (a) somebody's wishing you pleasure and delight in the first place, and (b) that you're alive to celebrate whatever holiday you wish, because thousands of our young people sent to fight in the Middle East aren't.

Laurie said...

I'm trying to bring back Saturnalia. Anyone with me?

This is great, P.

Mister Earl said...

I'm always with you, sweet pea! Got my crunch-time ticket in my hot little hands.

Diana said...

And what about Festivus, Laurie?!

Margaret said...

Some people's lives are so staid that they have to invent drama. Ha! I wish most of us were so lucky.

Jack said...

Interesting essay. I go by the recipient. If I am with someone I know to be Christian, I say Merry Christmas. If with a Jew or non-observer, Seasons Greetings works. Most people enjoy the festivities at this time of the year, regardless of tradition. I do think that a city-wide event like in Tulsa needs to be more "generic," not Christmas-specific, because governments aren't supposed to get involved with religion.

Petrea said...

I changed my mind about the banana bread, Linda. Not enough loaf pans. Now I'm mixing Herbes de Provence, which was an insane idea that required a trip to Sunland. In the rain.

Young people of all races and religions, I might add, Diana.

Laurie! If Wikipedia's right, Saturnalia's TODAY! I'm all for it. Party at Earl's. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saturnalia

Here's the Festivus link:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Festivus

Well, Margaret, at least it gives me something to write about.

Jack, I get your point and I won't say I've never done that. But you can't always tell by looking at somebody what their religion is. And I agree: most people just enjoy the festivities, regardless.

Ms M said...

Good essay and comments. IMHO people need to "calm down" about this and a number of other things. We would do well to remember what is truly important in life and not get so caught up with the annoying mosquitoes of the world.
I laughed, too, at your WWJD answer :)

Steve Scauzillo said...

Gee, I wonder where this was shot?

Pasadena Adjacent said...

A tiny mind can be a dangerous thing: why can't we waste it?

btw: I like the subtext in this photo. Yes, according to King James, this is not an exit.

postie said...

Nice post Petra. I agree with you that you should be free to wish anyone a certain wish. Like Merry Christmas. And its polite to say thank you or the same back. Myself a Christian can understand the mindset from others that have been denied from saying that in government and schools for a while. So they are just flexing their muscles a bit trying to get the playing field level. But yes some go too far. Anyone should be able to say merry whatever and should not be taken task for it. If you dont like it just turn the other cheek. Another bible saying.

Oh and Merry Christmas Petra and enjoy the holidays the way you love to celebrate.

Bellis said...

They grow herbes in Sunland????

Petrea said...

Glad I made you laugh, Ms. M.

Steve, how did yours turn out? I got nothing in the room where the art was. I blame the light.

PA, that King James thought he knew everything.

Hello, Postie! Nice to see you. Thank you for your good wishes, and a Merry Christmas to you as well.

Herbes de Sunland, Bellis. It's a long story.

Dina said...

Mister Earl transported me WAY back to early childhood in Chicago. I remember now, exactly, the smell of my American Flyer locomotive's smoke pellets!

The Hebrew of the Hebrew Bible is so simple (yet poetic) and straightforward as opposed to the highfalutin KJV English.
Eugene Peterson's _The Message: The Bible in Contemporary Language_ tries to recapture the register and tone felt in the original Hebrew and Greek.

Petrea said...

Maybe I could read that one, Dina. I could never slog through the King James version.

Trish said...

P--if you think KJ high English is a hard read, try reading the Hebrew, without vowels or punctuation! ;-)

winterfest---which, pagan rituals of trees and lights or lamps are a part of...were lifted for other faiths...tho some seem to think they invented it...sigh. in the name of faith, so much harm has been done...funny, the bible I read doesn't mention "hate thy neighbor if they don't believe they way you do...".

Bellis...and Petrea---yes, they grow "herbs" in Sunland...not "of Provence" but uhm...well, a different green style. ;-) And dang, for THAT I wouldn't mind being on your gift list! ;-O****

Petrea said...

That is NOT what I'm giving for Christmas gifts!