It was a typical Monday morning, I got the kids up and ready for school, dropped them off before the bell, and headed off to work. Halloween was still fresh in our minds, the candy piled high on the kitchen table, costumes laying clumped in piles in the kids’ rooms, skeleton decorations still hanging on the front porch.
As I drove into the small town that I work in, a glaring reminder that the holidays are upon us struck me like a slap across the cheek. A giant red glittery, metallic, shimmering “Merry Christmas” was strung across the entire street. Overhead, it glittered and shimmered overwhelmingly in the morning sun, almost blindingly. It was huge. Is it wrong that it felt like an assault? Not an assault like a gunman barging into a bar and spraying bullets into the crowd kind of assault. More like an assault of the senses, an assault on anyone who doesn’t celebrate Christmas.
I celebrate Christmas, I am a Christian, but even I don’t understand this war-like stance that Christians take about this holiday. This garish sign across the street heading into town might have well read, “Merry fucking Christmas” or “Merry Christmas, motherfuckers” or “If you don’t celebrate Christmas, then get the fuck out.” Yet, in this same small town, one might hear people sitting in the diner complaining about immigrants coming into our country, or how our taxes support all these lazy people on welfare, or how they support a man that tells it like it is, even when he says he grabs women by the pussy or degrades fellow Americans with disabilities. You can’t have your “Merry Christmas” sign and spew hate or support those that do.
The first Christmas was spent on the floor of a barn amongst the sights and smells of the beasts of burden. Immigrants traveling and not being welcome, a man and a woman in need of shelter, a human baby born without the comforts our humanity can provide. His birth, ultimately leading to his death for all of us, despite our depravity, ignorance, greed, jealousy, hatred, sin. The first Christmas was void of red, glittery, metallic signs. It was dark, cold, and dangerous.
Today’s Christmas is an assault. The quiet, solemn moment of the Christ child’s birth and the subsequent story of Jesus as savior is overwhelmed and outshined by the jolly round Santa, flashing lights, piles of presents that no one really needs, the bustling crowds selfishly hoarding their baubles amid immigrants seeking asylum, children living in poverty, and veterans living on the streets.
If someone doesn’t tell me “Merry Christmas” it does not anger me. I am not proud of what Christmas has morphed into. People wear bracelets that read “WWJD (What would Jesus do)” and I wonder what would Jesus think of what the celebration of his birth has become.