R Scott Okamoto
Let's Make Christmas Illegal: A Rational View
This was my first "popular" post on Facebook ten years ago. I have updated it for today. Bah Humbug.
Conservatives are always complaining about some "attack" on Christmas. To me, the desire to be inclusive of all beliefs and cultures during a season with lots of celebrations sounds like a reasonable request. We have that whole, "Congress shall make no law...blah, blah, but really, calling this an "attack on Christmas" is like calling Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas an "attack" on white people's feelings. No one, except me, is calling for an end to our American Christmas traditions. Not the media, not the ACLU, not George Soros, not even AOC. Just me.
Here's why, using actual christian beliefs. 1. I think I can say with a fair amount of certainty that Jesus was not born on December 25, nor any day in the winter, according to the Bibl3. Besides, a real Christian is mindful of Christ's birth every freakin day. 2. While gift-giving is certainly a nice gesture, placing gifts beneath trees is some kind of a pagan, celtic ritual to appease the gods of the trees. Not exactly biblical. 4. We're in an economic crisis. Couldn't we all use a moratorium on buying shiny stuff that people don't really need, and save a few bucks? It's kind of ironic, to me anyway, that we commemorate the birth of Christ, the guy who spoke at length about helping the poor and selling all your stuff to follow him...by overspending on material stuff. Part of what got us into this economic mess was that we overspent on stuff we didn't really need.
And maybe the thing that tipped it for me was a story on Marketplace this a few years ago. They were talking about the effects of this economy on the poor American children during Christmas. One woman said that instead of buying 20 presents for her kid, she would probably only buy 10. I almost drove off the road when I heard that. 20 presents? We've never bought our 3 kids 20 presents combined...for anything! They get one cool thing and one crappy Santa gift. If I have to play the stupid Santa charade then I get to at least show up that crazy fat f...but I digress. Now don't go feeling bad for my kids. With hand-me-downs and grandparents constantly giving them stuff, they have more stuff than they know what to do with. If Christmas is, indeed, about giving, then we should give to the poor. I think Jesus would be OK with that.
Our American Christmas traditions are really not all that old. People think they are participating in Christmas traditions dating back to Jesus' birth, but really Christmas as we know it was started by my grandparents' generation. In the grand scheme of time, Christmas as we know it still has the tags on it, so for the sake of your sacred Christianity, humanity, the economy, and my sanity, let's exchange Christmas, like you do a bunch of your lame gifts, for something more sustainable, useful, biblical, and charitable.
I can already hear the objections. Rest assured, we don't need to throw the baby Jesus out with the bathwater. Gather with your family and friends. Sing songs, if you must. Eat, drink, be merry, celebrate life together and be thankful for what you have. Beautiful. Some people even do that on other days during the year. Heck, maybe if christians celebrated Christmas all year long, people might want to go to church more than once or twice a year. I wouldn't, but some people really dig Christmas. Oh, don't get me started on Easter...
How about a compromise? You can keep Christmas. But let's give up the commercialization, the stress, the crazy urge to overspend on people who don't need to be indulged to such an extent, and let's make a habit of caring for people all the time. Peace and good will all year long. You can even fight with your family all year long if that's something you do during Christmas. At least you'll be communicating regularly. And let's at least recognize the wealth of beliefs and cultures that take this season to celebrate most of the same things Christians celebrate. With our pagan trees and bizarre Santa traditions around the world (see David Sedaris' story on the Netherlands Santa), we have plenty of wonderfully secular/cultural traditions in common.
And if you do buy your children 20 presents, please don't tell me. There's already enough hate and anger in this world.