A local area pastor is promoting a website where we can report stores and other businesses for giving into the Grinch and allowing Christmas to be stolen. Folks are invited to report their experience, labeling a company as either "naughty" or "nice," depending on how they handle Christmas. In other words, if an employee should say, "Happy Holidays" rather than "Merry Christmas," that store should be on the naughty list.
So, I got to thinking. It’s not enough that the stores I frequent should be on the nice list. We need to make sure that we all avoid the naughty list. I have some further suggestions that can help keep us on the right side of the ledger:
- Put a star atop the Christmas tree so we can spiritualize our extravagant gift giving
- Make sure our giant Santa in the front yard is not larger than our Nativity set
- Read the Christmas story (the one in the Bible) before our tribute to materialism and gluttony on Christmas day
- Attend a Christmas Eve service at church (this is for those who are real serious about Christmas)
If we are going to continually judge each other for the way we celebrate Christmas we are probably going to be frustrated. The truth is that there are two holidays celebrated on December 25. There is one holiday for Christians that commemorates the birth of the Savior. This celebration is marked by nativity sets, Christmas programs at church, carols, Advent, and many other religious exercises. This holiday is characterized by saying, "Merry Christmas."
The other holiday observed on the same day is a secular version of Christmas. This holiday features gift giving, Christmas parties, Santa Claus, school closings, eggnog, and many other festive activities. This is the holiday that most folks celebrate, including the vast majority of Christians. The big difference is that many Christians celebrate both events. People who observe this holiday normally say, "Happy Holidays," although they might also use, "Merry Christmas."
Problems arise that lead to the creation of the Grinch website initiated by our preacher friend when Christians expect everyone else to celebrate both holidays. We tend to think that since we use their Santa Claus that they should be using our greeting. Why do we expect non-believers to use Christian expressions and symbols? If they do, that’s great, but if they don’t, why are we offended?
My son and I tried our own experiment as we were out and about today. I greeted people with a "Happy Holidays" and he used "Merry Christmas." Often, the response we received was identical to the one we used. However, I am happy to report that the cashier at the Best Buy in Hurst, Texas, responded to my "Happy Holidays" with a very emphatic "Merry Christmas." I am going to the website and put her name at the very top of the "Nice" list and pray that Santa will be extra special to her this year.
I do wonder why the website where we report those who don’t observe the true meaning of Christmas uses secular images like "Grinch," Christmas tree balls, and "Naughty and Nice" lists. Oh well, I hope you have a very Merry Christmas and a Happy Holiday!