So, in a genuine effort to wish others a joyous season, I have taken to using the expression "Happy holidays!" It's short, sweet, and inclusive. That is to say, it recognizes that people do indeed observe a multitude of holy days.
I had hoped to conspire with my greetings in the darkness of humility; but over the past couple years certain powerful people in the media machine have shone a bright light on my actions and those of others like me, they have revealed my true identity as an enemy in the War On Christmas.
The ironic fact is that I didn't realize I was fighting a war against my favorite holiday until last year - and it was precisely the wave of the Christmas Crusade which revealed it to me.
Perhaps you've heard of this holy day, Christmas. It is the day that millions worldwide bow their knee at the tree altar and worship their god, the fictional man in the red suit who brings them stuff they don't need, often to the detriment of the "elves" who manufacture them - typically women and children in developing countries - and, far more often than not, on credit. This day is perhaps the holiest of all in our consumerist culture. I too was a pretty big fan of this holiday until I began to think critically about what was going on. Linus helped to clear the fog a bit:
Instead we see the scene at the Douglas fir.
To be perfectly clear: I love gifts. Giving and receiving with friends and family is a beautiful thing. But I can only look around on Christmas morning and wonder: how did it come to this?
According to Christian dogma, Jesus lived and died so that we might live in freedom and peace, ultimately to the glory of God. Instead many live in bondage to their materialism and greed at the expense of the lives and labor of the poor, of their own financial independence and security, and of the vitality of the planet on which we depend for survival. I fear that the Christmas morning that God watches unfold in many households today is the opposite of what He watched on the first Christmas; whereas Jeremiah declares that the light dawns with the birth of the child (9:2), there is now much darkness surrounding the festivities of December 25th.
Still the lesson that I learned this Christmas is that this does not have to be the case. The presents that I most appreciated were the ones for which my concerns were given consideration. I was gifted fairly traded shoes and musical instruments, second-hand clothes, and a toy accordion from a garage sale. I've been playing that accordion all day; and even though Chinese children probably manufactured it in less-than-ideal conditions, I can rest easy knowing that I did not give financial support and credence to the corporation(s) which perpetuate those conditions. Likewise, I was able to give meaningful gifts to my family and friends without spending any money (which would hurt me financially), repurposing unused items thereby keeping them away from landfills, and spending quality time with those closest to me.
This year I managed to give and receive without violating my own conscience. This is a huge step! I do still believe that Santa Claus is the biggest threat to the true Christmas story; he represents so much that is contrary to the spirit of commemorating the birth of the Prince of Peace. But I am comforted and empowered by the words of John Lennon, who apparently understood the true meaning of Christmas better than most:
War is over if you want it.
In that same spirit, I have made a Christmas album available for your listening pleasure on iTunes and Amazon. It only costs 5 bucks and change, all proceeds help me pay rent in the New Year. Thanks for reading, caring, and listening. I greatly appreciate your love and support!
Here's wishing you and yours a most peaceful and blessed holiday season.
The following video is heavy. I encourage and challenge you to watch it and to consider whether there is anything you do or say (or don't do/say) that might be the cause of these scenes. Keep in mind that the US is currently fighting wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, with sights set on a handful of others - and all reportedly for our freedom. Whether you agree with that or not, this is what war looks like. It's happening now. We can end it.