Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Putting Christmas back into the Holiday. Is that a good thing?

I got an email a week or so ago from a reporter at the IDS asking if I would share my opinion on Walmart's decisions (along with Kohl's and Macy's) to reintroduce the word "Christmas" this year, replacing the more neutral term "Holiday". Honestly, I didn't respond because I was 1) to busy, and 2) afraid that I would be to caustic.
This may be shocking, and feel free to post your comments, but I wish Walmart and Macy's would stick with "Holiday".

Why? Because I hate it when Jesus is a marketing ploy. I hate that his name is being used to baptize a holiday we have turned into a consumeristic circus, a materialistic mad dash to accumulate crap we don't need. I hate it because too many Christians will think this is a victory and will say to themselves, "We've taken back Christmas". Oh really.

Don't get me wrong - I'll be buying toys for my kids (and they'll be buying toys for me). I don't want to be the grinch that steals your Christmas, but does it make us feel better to have the clerk smile and say "Merry Christmas" after we've spent an obscene amount of money on junk.

I find it incredibly ironic, sadly ironic, that we become and teach our kids (ok, most of you dont' have them yet, but you will) to be the most self-centered at a time of the year that beckons to be the most others-centered. We make our Christmas lists, if only in our heads. We spend the money we know we'll be getting from Aunt Susie before it ever arrives. We think, "I better get so and so a gift, they got me one last year".

So what do we do about it?

1 comment:

Scott Andreas said...

Hear, hear!

I fear that my response may be a little caustic as well, but tough stains need strong chemicals.

You're right; the holidays aren't about Christ, or even Christmas anymore. Gift-giving is "in the Bible," after all. But context rains on the party as usual...we forget that the gold, frankincense, and myrrh were offered to Jesus. If that's the logic we're going with, I want to know why we don't pour CK perfume on each other a week before Easter!

So what do we do? We've admitted that Christmas is a "consumerist circus," so do we celebrate it as a mammonic holiday, buying iPods for each other because "it's what Americans do" rather than "what Christians do?"

Or can we speak prophetically to our culture? What might Christmas look like if we began to disown the consumerist expression of our faith entirely? What if we did more than just "remember the reason for the season," by doing what Jesus commanded us to do: redistribute our wealth by giving to those in need rather than restricting our generosity to our financially-solvent family and friends?

I'm not saying "don't buy gifts." I'm suggesting that we stop desiring what we do not need and begin sharing the unspeakable joy of the incarnation by condescending from our wealthy American thrones (and yes, $20,000/yr is wealthy) and "freely giving" just as we've "freely received."

This is a real possibility, and several churches are doing exactly this. Perhaps we can join them.

Merry Christmas!

- Scott