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Christmas belongs to all of us, not just the self-appointed enforcers of orthodoxy

happy holidays fox news

(NOTE: This post is an adaption of several from years past.)

With Thanksgiving almost a week behind us, Christmas season is now in full flower.

It’s my favorite time of the year — always has been and probably always will be.

No, I’m no longer the devout religionist I was when I was a Catholic altar boy. Far from it. But I retain an almost child-like love of the yuletide season. I like Christmas music and Christmas movies and Christmas spirit and all the other cultural trappings of the occasion.

And I’ll be damned if I’m going to let the folks at Fox News or any of the other Christmas Nazis tell me how I should observe this special season. If I choose to say “happy holidays” to my friends and acquaintances, I don’t care if it somehow offends the sensibilities of the insufferably sanctimonious people who are forever harping about the imaginary War on Christmas.

Where do these people get off with their pretensions of ownership of Christmas? Their endless whining about how the rest of us observe the holiday is just part and parcel of the culture of victimization they’re forever peddling among their fellow right-wing loonies.

Oh sure, they can find isolated examples of public schools that carry secularism too far with a ban on religious Christmas carols or some such silly censorship. But to pretend that these incidents are commonplace or represent some galloping godlessness in our society is to ignore the fact that our culture is awash this month with more Christmas symbolism than at any time in the past.

When I was a kid, the Christmas season didn’t start until December, and its last vestiges disappeared shortly after New Year’s Day.  Thanksgiving leftovers were long gone before Christmas trees or other decorations went up. But these days, the Christmas season starts soon after Halloween and lasts for two months. Some people even leave their Christmas trees up until the Super Bowl in February.

And to those people who complain that Christmas is insufficiently religious anymore, my response is simple and fair-minded: I’m not going to tell you how you should formulate your sense of spiritualism, and I’ll thank you not to tell me how I should formulate mine.

Incidentally, the image at the top of this post is a screen-shot from Fox News Channel. Notice the absence of any mention of Christmas or any hint of religion. I trust that the godless functionary responsible for such a sacrilege has been summarily sacked.

ADDENDUM: In a vein similar to mine, pundit David Sirota had this to say a few years ago:

One of the defining qualities of late December is the predictable and ritualized nature of America’s holiday season. Other than discovering what’s inside the wrapped gift boxes, there’s no mystery or suspense to it anymore. The Christmas music starts right before Thanksgiving. Then come the flickering lights, the red-and-green decor, Hollywood’s vacation movie blitz, and finally, with media charlatans turning the key, the fake outrage machine rumbles back to life.

Like a narcissist’s souped-up 4-by-4, this turbocharged colossus of self-righteous indignation makes a lot of noise and leaves a mess in its wake — but ultimately says a lot more about its drivers’ pitiable insecurities than anything else…

 In a majority-Christian nation whose politics and culture are steeped in Christianity, these zealots are interested in pretending their fellow Christians are somehow oppressed, contradictory facts be damned.

In propagating such an illusion, they’re not earnestly embodying their religion’s missionary spirit. Instead, they’re manufacturing victimhood, all to gin up sympathy and create a rationale to continue ramrodding their theology down everyone else’s throats.

That some feel this need to push their faith with such craven tactics speaks volumes about the nature of spiritual self-doubt today. Sure, our tumultuous world of bombast and chaos leads us to assume that the loudest are the most devout. But in practice, those who are truly comfortable in their faith are often the most humble about their orthodoxies because they have nothing to prove. By contrast, those who are the most insecure in their beliefs can sometimes be the most in-your-face about their dogma.

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26 Comments

  1. Sounds to me that it is the consumerist/capitalist part of Christmas that you enjoy, not Christmas, the religous holiday that celebrates the birth of Christ.

    Your leftie buddies are gonna boot you out of the club it you keep this up.

  2. Doc- Christmas IS about consumerism and capitalism. The nativity is another story…

  3. doc: You can embrace whatever myths you want. Meanwhile, I will always enjoy the spirit of Christmas as I perceive it (which has relatively little to do with consumerism or capitalism).

    Christmas is a religious holiday only to those who regard it as such. Some of us see it as something more than that — or even apart from that.

    (Here’s where you reassert your smug self-righteousness — in hopes, no doubt, of gaining validation at the Pearly Gates or perhaps even an extra blessing or two in this earthly realm as reward for your bearing faithful witness against leftish secularism.)

  4. Pat, YOU have Christmas SPIRIT??? Who would have thought that even an old scrooge who spends his time looking for things to be angry about could find time to celebrate? I hope this means we’ll get a break from all the negativity, once Christmas is upon us.

  5. Aaron: Negativity is just a part-time gig for me. And it arises only in the face of idiocies from wingnuts.

    If you want a break from the negativity here, don’t read this blog. Nobody’s forcing you, you know.

  6. “Christmas is a religious holiday only to those who regard it as such.”

    That has to be the single most idiotic statement you have ever made in your life.

    Christmas is by definition a religous holiday that celebrates the birth of Christ.

    You obviously don’t believe in my “myths” of Christianity and that’s fine with me.

    You should really stick with the “Happy Holidays” thing instead.

  7. doc: Here we go again. For the umpteenth time, I’m going to have to school you on matters about which you apparently know nothing.

    My statement that “Christmas is a religious holiday only to those who regard it as such” is historically, culturally and even legally correct.

    You observe Christmas as a religious holiday, but millions of people, including me, do not. That is a simple, undeniable fact, whether you like it or not. You can be as holier-than-thou as you want, but you can’t erase the fact that countless people embrace Christmas in a strictly cultural, rather than religious, sense.

    Governments, too, observe Christmas as a cultural holiday rather than a religious one. Indeed, governments are forbidden by the Constitution to observe Christmas as a religious holiday.

    In 1989, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that while the government “may acknowledge Christmas as a cultural phenomenon,” the Constitution mandates that the government “may not observe [Christmas] as a Christian holy day by suggesting that people praise God for the birth of Jesus.”

    When you say “Christmas is by definition a religous holiday that celebrates the birth of Christ,” you’re referring only to the “definition” that you and other Christians apply to the occasion. Millions of other folks, as I say, have a different definition. They don’t go to church on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day. They don’t ponder nativity scenes or any of the other religious trappings of the holiday. They just like Christmas for what it is to them. That may annoy the Christmas Nazis at Fox News or on the televangelism channels, but that’s just too bad for them, isn’t it?

    You see, doc, your labeling of what I said as “idiotic” is idiotic in itself. What’s worse, it bespeaks an unwillingness on your part to accept the fact that you and others of your ilk don’t own Christmas. Some of us choose not to hew to your definition of the holiday. And it’s not idiotic of us to do so. If you ever want to debate some of the superstitions you embrace, we’ll see who’s idiotic and who’s not.

  8. You get awfully touchy whenever YOU bring up religous topics on your own site. Liberals are so predictably sour,judgmental, or snarky as may be the case, I find it rather depressing.

    I didn’t say you couldn’t celebrate the holidays however you wanted, whenever you wanted and with whomever you wanted. You can dance naked around an aluminum pole and exhibit feats of strength for three weeks in December.

    But that isn’t Christmas….by actual historicial definition.

    Christmas is the Church holiday celebrating the birth of Christ.

    For whatever reason you have shunned religion and have no interest in celebrating the original meaning of the holiday. You do like to reminisce about the other parts of the season like hot chocolate and Frosty the Snowman and Burl Ives music. That’s cool too.

    Why you feel the need to call it Christmas might be a better question. It feels like you must have some major guilt issues to me.

  9. doc: What a weasel you are!

    First you say it’s “idiotic” of me to state that “Christmas is a religious holiday only to those who regard it as such”

    Then, I categorically prove that the statement is historically, culturally and even legally accurate rather than idiotic.

    And now you try to pretend that you never called the statement “idiotic.” You avoid any mention of my categorical refutation of what you said. Instead, you conjure up some “major guilt issues” on my part.

    I don’t feel guilty about anything regarding Christmas. As I said in the post above, Christmas is my favorite time of year. Why would I feel guilty about that? And why would I feel guilty about abjuring a belief system I now consider to be pure superstition?

    Guilt trips over religious issues are for people like you, doc. I gave up on that stuff a long time ago, just as I gave up on the Tooth Fairy, Santa Claus and The Easter Bunny.

    I can still feel guilty about certain things, but it has nothing to do with religious scruples.

  10. If you ask kids what the Christmas story is you get Red Ryder and FRAGILE (Fra- Gee -Lay).

  11. One other thing, doc: I think you’re at least a little offended by the fact that people like me co-opt Christmas for our secular purposes. You seem to think the holiday rightly belongs only to true Chrisitian believers. And according to you, it’s “idiotic” to suggest that the holiday serves any other worthy purpose.

    The great irony here is that your attitude ignores the fact that the Christmas holiday borrows a lot from pagan traditions. Even the date of Christmas was chosen as a lure to pagans who already were accustomed to their own festivals at that time of year.

    I’m sure, doc, that somewhere in the world there is some pagan who thinks you’re “idiotic” to pretend that the holiday on Dec. 25 somehow belongs exclusively to you and others of your cult.

  12. 1) Christmas is the church holiday that celebrates the birth of Christ. Always has been and always will be. Anything else is generic holiday celebration, therefore your original statement WAS idiotic.

    You have conflated that truth with what I said about your holiday celebrations. Celebrate whatever you want, I respect that, and as I said, whatever you cherish about the holiday time is fine, it just ain’t Christmas if you’re going to leave out the Christ. Just because you want to act like a bigot doesn’t make me one.

    2) I have noticed that many liberals, particularly snarky types such as yourself and dogrescuer are adamant that you want to celebrate in your way, eschew religion but then go on to denigrate those who are capable of FAITH. It is ok with me if your mind can’t make a leap of faith but don’t call my beliefs superstitions, fairy tales or talking to make believe men. It makes you look cheap, small minded and yes, idiotic.

    I am happy that you have finally revealed your true disdain for all things religious. You have carefully guarded that little secret over the years, but this little thread has revealed your true (but not surprising) colors.

  13. dogrescuer

    Hey, Doc! I’ve been quiet as a little mouse so far this holiday season about your make-believe religion, and you call me a snarky liberal even though I haven’t said anything up to now!

  14. Luke Fredrickson

    It isn’t a very strong FAITH if you feel so obviously threatened by those who disagree, doc…

    So many of you evangelicals do the opposite of evangelizing – i.e converting souls to Jesus – by ignoring HIS example. Condescending to non-believers? Yeah, that’s helpful.

    Less Jimmy Swaggart, more Jimmy Carter.

  15. Luke,

    In what way do I seem threatened? If that is your perception, it is a misperception.

    Why do you think I am evangelizing? I am not trying to get Pat or dogrescuer or you for that matter to believe anything, particularly in Christianity.

    I merely pointed out the actual origin of the word Christmas (and the holiday), which is an indisputable fact.

    I have to admit, I find this entire thread fascinating and revealing. Liberal atheists who claim to want to be left alone, to do as they wish, with no consequence to any behavior get all fired up about a holiday that is based on something they view as make believe.

    If you don’t believe, don’t celebrate, or celebrate something else. I still think Festivus would work well for you. The airing of grievances seems particularly suited to the liberal mindset.

  16. Leave it to you, Pat, to politicize Christmas and pit people against one another with your divisive comments. You represent everything that is wrong with American politics at this time. People like you are the reason for the gridlock in Congress. People have different views, opinions, and forms of celebration. There is absolutely no need to attack or berate one another for holding different beliefs. Still, you continue to purposely stir the pot in hopes of riling up a few folks who will fall into your trap. Using your newspaper blog to divide readers is disgraceful. I have never read anything riddled with more vitriol and hate than your comments. You can tell me that no one is making me read your “articles”, but that is not the point. The point is that you’re taking “The Most Wonderful Time of the Year” and politicizing it; you’re driving people apart when we should be coming together to celebrate (no matter how we choose to do so). The point is that the language you use in your writing does nothing to solve any problems, it only exacerbates the problems. No one has to read your articles, but you surely don’t have to write them. Just because you’re free to say whatever you please, doesn’t make it a good idea. Merry Christmas.

  17. Brian Opsahl

    You folks are reading way to much into how somebody else feels about Christmas, The only pot stiring is clear who is twisting this into an argument. Everybody celebrates Holidays differantly thats all he’s saying and your way is no differant than his …it’s about choice and your trying to make his for him…It’s America guys we do things are own ways around here, nobody has taken Christ out of Christmas for you have they…Really !!

  18. dogrescuer

    Brian: We enjoy the debate! For instance, Doc is a Catholic, I’m a Deist, we’re both believers in the creator but with different theological philosophies, and we’re never going to change each others mind. We don’t care, we’ll both continue criticizing each other!

  19. Brian Opsahl

    I’ am a Christian who beleives that we all have to live together, AND get along, so far in our long History Religion has by far caused us the most damadge as people. Fighting over religion is like a business to some,where is the tollerance taught by every single one of them…

  20. Aaron disdainfully accuses me of dividing people on the issue of Christmas. But he says nothing about the self-appointed guardians of tradition who berate others for not following certains notions of orthodoxy in the observance of Christmas. I refer, of course, to those busybodies who take offense at greetings of “Happy Holidays” or at other gestures that are not sufficiently religious to satisfy the smugly self-righteous among us.

    All I’ve said in the post above is that we all should be allowed to celebrate Christmas in our own way without criticism from the holier-than-thou who pretend that the holiday belongs to their kind and no one else.

  21. I see no blogs, articles, or columns by these guardians of tradition, Pat. If they ever get a blog on rrstar.com and use the kind of language you do, I will certainly call them on it as well.

  22. Aaron: You don’t get around much, do you?

    The controversy over “Seasons Greetings” (or “Happy Holidays”)vs. “Merry Christmas” has been raging for years. The self-righteous crowd hates it when store clerks say anything except “Merry Christmas.”

    For example, a church in Dallas published an online “Grinch list” of stores that don’t use “Merry Christmas” and urged that such stores be boycotted.

    A poll on this matter was conducted a few years ago by Public Religion Research Institute, in partnership with Religion News Service. Here are some of the results:

    Just under half (49 percent) of those surveyed said stores should have a “Merry Christmas” greeting policy, while 44 percent say businesses should opt for the more generic “Happy Holidays” or “Season’s Greetings” out of respect for people of different faiths.

    Almost two-thirds (64 percent) of Republicans say stores should use “Merry Christmas,” while nearly six in 10 (58 percent) of Democrats say they should opt for “Happy Holidays” or “Season’s Greetings.”

    One interesting religious split is that nearly 70 percent of white evangelical Protestants support the “Merry Christmas” greeting — no surprise there — and white mainline Protestants, generally more liberal, are also supportive, at 57 percent. Yet 55 percent of Catholics, who are usually more in line with mainline Protestants on such cultural issues, prefer that stores use something inclusive like “Happy Holidays.”

    Fox News Channel is the leading media outlet for sounding the alarm about the so-called “War on Christmas.” That kind of stuff gets Fox’s right-wing viewers all up in arms. But last year, it also prompted Christian writer Jim Wallis to denounce Fox for its blatant hypocrisy with regard to Christmas.

    Check it out: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/jim-wallis/the-real-war-on-christmas_b_1151709.html

  23. shawnnews

    Didn’t dogrescuer say he was religious, and a lay reader in his church, for 30 years? His stridency might be new, but inconsistent. D– can you actually fault someone for believing something you held a position in? A belief switch in either direction is nothing to be ashamed of in either direction — but if you have had the same beliefs for a very long time if I remember, why take a condescending tone?
    My personal belief is that people change their minds about religions often but claim the religious “team” they were born into.

  24. Barbara-Marie

    Let’s keep it simple. There’s always been a midwinter holiday. Always. In all cultures. As an Orthodox Christian, I say, “There’s little enough decency in the world as it is… do we truly have to add to the store of nastiness?” I look for decency in people… and I’ve found it in both “believers” and unbelievers”. As for indecency… the worst are those who profess religion and refuse to practise what they preach. As C S Lewis put it, “the foullest flowers of evil grow in the shadow of the altar”.

    Pat… sorry for all the @#$& that so-called “Christians” are handing you. Here’s the jug… take a snort… oh, yes… HAPPY HOLIDAYS.

  25. Brian Opsahl

    This is like flees arguing over the dog …you guys know this right…!! just sayin
    Merry Christmas, Mary X-Mas,Happy Holidays,Yall come back now….really guys

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