Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Happy Holidays!

Holiday merchandise has started seeping its jolly way into the inventory shipments at work. In this business, we don't keep Christmas with us all through the year (to quote the classic video Christmas Eve on Sesame Street), but it does hang around for a solid four months.

This puts us employees close to the front lines in the annual Merry Christmas/Happy Holidays debate which has seemed to rage during the past couple seasons of joy, peace, and every other adjective that is non-raging. To clarify the issue for my purposes, the phrase "Merry Christmas" has been increasingly under attack by people who claim that America is full of people who aren't Christians and thus do not celebrate Christmas. The words should be replaced by more inoccuous ones such as "Happy Holidays" or "Seasons Greetings." Folks on the other side argue that this is simply another step toward the secularization of our society.

It amazes me that such a large part of the Christian community gets so fired up about this. What really is at stake here? A repetitive "Merry Christmas" will not bring anyone closer to the freedom and grace Jesus offers, nor does saying "Happy Holidays" constitue denying Christ. Win or lose, it seems like nothing is gained. Except maybe pride.

I try to place myself in the position of one who does not follow Jesus. Say everyone walked around greeting me with "Happy Hannukah" during the month of December. This would not bring me to a blind rage, but it certainly would not mean anything to me. Moreover, I would receive it with indifference and thus miss the thought and well-wishes which were intended with the greeting.

Alienation and interpersonal coldness are not the things of Christ.

It seems as if the Christian community wants to hold on to this idea that we are a society which has submitted itself to God and his laws. The truth of this is obviously debatable, but irrelevant in this conversation. I think we need more God in our society. But I wonder if bludgeoning everyone with this banal greeting is the proper way to accopmlish said goal. We get so fired up to share Jesus with our culture through this holiday greeting. Yet, we often balk when we can really share Jesus with our culture by tithing, listening, forgiving, asking for forgiveness, serving, speaking, praying, loving, and a whole heavenly host of other things which we tend to be not so passionate about.

So at work this holiday season, my hope for my customers is that they have a "Happy Holidays." Here's also hoping that they hear Christ in everything else I do and say.


Anonymous said...

Its not what you SAY but rather what you DO that so often impacts people we encounter...

Alex said...

amen, ben! way to come strong, my soul brother. I ranted in similar fashion in my first days of blogging back in january.

but really, I just want to be more like you.