Forum editorial: Keep your Christmas in the light
The "war on Christmas" is no war at all. It's a creation of a gaggle of hyperventilating TV talking heads, blowhard radio talk show hosts and a couple of authors trying to make a quick buck. If anything, the "war" is little more than another skir...
The "war on Christmas" is no war at all. It's a creation of a gaggle of hyperventilating TV talking heads, blowhard radio talk show hosts and a couple of authors trying to make a quick buck. If anything, the "war" is little more than another skirmish, nourished by the endemic tension between the secular and the religious in this complicated nation. To exploit that natural tension is cynical and disingenuous and certainly outside of the spirit of Christmas.
In other words, the inflated rhetoric over whether "Merry Christmas" or "Happy Holidays" is the right seasonal greeting is more heat than light. The light, as always, comes from the real meaning of the holiday, and nothing can change that in the hearts of believers.
Of course, modern Christmas has a secular bent that cannot be denied. No holiday is as commercial. Santa Claus is as much a part of the season as the birth of the Christ child. The act of giving can been seen as rooted in the gifts wise men gave to the babe in the manger, or as rewards from a jolly old elf for having been nice rather than naughty all year.
That might be the enduring power of Christmas. Foolish tiffs about the real meaning of Christmas tend to be about one group insisting its view is the right one. But Christmas - secular and spiritual, Santa and Jesus - has evolved into a broad cultural observance in a diverse nation that was founded on the bedrock of tolerance and inclusion of all beliefs or no belief.
But while the modern trappings of Christmas cannot be avoided, the reason for the observance cannot be denied. There would be no bright holiday season without the biblical telling of the birth of Christ in a stable in an obscure Middle Eastern town some 2000 years ago. There would be no meaningful spirit of good will without acknowledgement of the love embodied in the Christ child.
Of course, every year believers have to endure the silliness masquerading as scholarship about how the Puritans banned merriment at Christmas, of how the old English definition of "merry" had to do with boozing and debauchery, or how the birth date of Dec. 25 was chosen by the early church because it was close to the pagan observance of the winter solstice, or how Christmas as we know it is more cultural construct than religious holiday.
Enough. None of that matters. The changes in the holiday over the centuries do not diminish its meaning or power. Christians surely participate enthusiastically in the secular aspects of Christmas, but they do so without abandoning their understanding of and faith in the truth of the biblical saga.
So if there is a "war on Christmas," it won't succeed. The Christmas message is 20 centuries old and its light is undimmed. Keep Christmas in your own way, but know that the source of the unconditional love that animates the spirit of the season is a humble birth in Bethlehem.
Forum editorials represent the opinion of Forum management and the newspaper's Editorial Board.