The fact that America launches its holiday season with a federal holiday dedicated to giving thanks is nothing to sneeze at. In fact, it’s practically a miracle that our society continues to observe Christmas at all, let alone as its own federal holiday. In a society generally hostile toward Christianity (and indeed any claim of objective truth), one might reasonably expect that one of the most ancient and important Christian feast days would have been canceled long ago.
Nevertheless, despite attempts to overlook the Christian nature of Christmas, America’s mere recognition of it gives it a stamp of approval. The federal and liturgical dates remain identical, “Santa Claus” still means “Saint Nicholas,” and the attempts to replace “Merry Christmas” with “Happy Holidays” and “Seasons Greetings” have never had complete success.
However much it misunderstands, our culture can neither change nor deny the origin of Christmas cheer. Within every holiday shopping aisle or Christmas light show, there is a kernel of truth and goodness.
With this in mind, Christians and conservatives can see the rising tide of Christmas energy not as a battlefield but as an opportunity to raise the culture to a new level of understanding and joy.
Replacing Criticism with Charity
Many of us are all too familiar with the complaints that commercialization has hijacked the holidays and shoved the celebratory timeline a month too soon. We could try to tune out all pre-Dec. 25 Christmas carols or refuse to look at prematurely decorated Christmas trees. But not only is this approach almost impossible in our world today, but it also risks filling our own Christmas preparation with more grumpiness than goodwill.
Why not view the newly lit office tree as a reminder of the soon-to-come Light of the World, or the shop window display as a reflection of God’s gifts to mankind? While we’re at it, why not share the facts about Saint Nicholas of Bari or the Christian stories of the Christmas tree and poinsettia with our friends, neighbors, or colleagues?
It’s true that most of the time, the potential consequences of “outing” ourselves as Christian or conservative can give us natural (and sometimes legitimate) pause. But Christmastime is different.
People are especially eager to have a fulfilling and joyful Christmas. Yes, Black Friday ads and holiday sales prioritize the presents, but many people — regardless of faith background — acknowledge Christmas as a season to think of others, spend time with family, and be generous toward charitable causes. (After all, how many popular Christmas movies have materialism rather than generosity as the moral of the story?) All of these are values that Christians cheer for.
Amid the hedonistic holiday mania, there are voices that are pushing back, and we can build upon that momentum. Two years ago, the British TV series “This Morning,” which boasts 2.26 million subscribers on its YouTube page, posted a video tutorial of a DIY Advent calendar. On the collaborative blog The Art of Simple, we find 12 simple tips for