For me, there is only one reason for this season. It is to celebrate the birthday of Jesus Christ, and the hollow, fake, generic greetings of “Happy Holidays” instead of “Merry Christmas” are making me less happy, less merry.
For years, various merchants and atheists have done their best to detach Christ from Christmas, first substituting X-mas for Christmas and now
the greeting of “Happy Holidays.” For example, Rhode Island recently held a “holiday tree” lighting. I am told that federal and state employers are being reminded not to give a “Merry Christmas” greeting because other faiths might find it offensive. Christmas carols such as “Silent Night and “Joy to the World” are disappearing from shopping malls and other public places.
I earnestly respect all other religions, whether it be Judaism, Islam or Buddhism. Like Christianity, most religions have at the core the virtues of love, peace and helping the less fortunate, even if the practice is different from the preaching. But I am upset about the push back of celebrating the birth of Jesus, whom Christians worship as our only risen savior on this Earth from here throughout eternity. To the 2.2 billion Christians in the world, Jesus remains our greatest gift of all.
A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that 68 percent of American adults prefer Merry Christmas. Just 23 percent like happy holidays instead. So what is with this constant undermining of faith? Is it malicious or is it political correctness run amuck?
If the object is to be inclusive, that is the wrong goal. Dec. 25 is a federal holiday designated by Congress for a specific divine person — Jesus of Nazareth. And despite how it is observed, it is not Santa Claus Day.
“How many of us on our birthday would appreciate a generic greeting card meant for just anybody?” asks the Rev. Louise Battle, a Pentecostal minister in the District. “Our cards have our name on them. Why do people think Christ should just be snatched out of Christmas?
Hijacking Christ from Christmas has deeper meanings. “It is not just the greeting and what we hear or say,” Wendy Carter, a local minister, told me. “I believe, bottom line, the spirit of Christmas is missing.”
As a child in the 1950s growing up in Columbus, Ohio, we prayed before each class. But when prayer and spiritual values went out of the classroom, a moral decline accelerated. Drugs, metal detectors, police and guns came in. Today, with school shootings such as the one at Sandy Hook Elementary overwhelming us, how can we not at least question the secularization of our culture?
As the nation became more secular, certain spiritual values were tossed out the window. Too often, money or materialism became our god, what we worshipped. Violent movies, video games and television shows overshadowed the Sunday school lessons of the Good Samaritan. Over the years, we suffered a moral meltdown from which we have yet to emerge.
Back in the day, there was a better blend of the spiritual and the secular. Yes, we waited in joyous anticipation for Santa Claus, but our parents also took us to church, where we gave thanks for our parents, our homes and even for the gifts. Santa may have brought the presents, but somehow we understood Christ helped our parents pay the bills.
Back then, gifts were simple and did not seem as important as the family with which we shared them. I remember receiving jacks and a ball, and skates; perhaps $30 covered all the gifts. Recently, I asked a young relative what he wanted for Christmas, and he told me an iPad and tennis shoes — each costing more than $100. He is not getting that from me, even if I could afford them.
Too often, Christmas has turned into a series of Black Fridays, with stores full of shoving, cash-strapped adults overcharging and overspending to keep up with the Joneses. The emphasis on extravagant giving to satisfy the wants or demands of spoiled children does not give parents what we really want. The children get spontaneous, momentary bliss, when they really need the inner gifts of peace, love and purpose that can come from spiritual blessing.
Continue to take Jesus Christ out of Christmas and we lose the very lessons our culture needs. Christ was born in a stable surrounded by the smell of sheep because the shopkeepers did not make room for him in their inns. His birth tells us that greatness is not measured by status nor wealth, but by divine purpose, and that no matter how lowly our lives begin, they can have a miraculous ending.
What better time to share these miracle stories and scenes of joy, love and new birth than Christmas. That is why I will be saying Merry Christmas and not Happy Holidays everywhere I go.
Reynolds is an ordained minister, a columnist for TheRootDC and the author of six books, including “Out of Hell & Living Well: Healing From the Inside Out.” She is a former editor and columnist for USA Today.
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