Ahh, the war against the non-existent war on Christmas has begun. Does it seem like the war begins earlier every year?
As a long-time non-religious person who loves Christmas, I am amused every year when people start accusing others of waging a “War on Christmas.” The first salvo I have seen this year is the accusation that Starbucks is waging a war on Christmas because its holiday cups have removed “symbols of the season.”
What amuses me about this is that, for me and for most of the people I know (including my Jewish wife), Christmas is well loved because it’s a time when people feel and act much more warm and caring toward others. As Ray Charles put it in one of my favorite holiday songs, “It’s truly amazing/That spirit of Christmas.”
But now I am supposed to get angry at Starbucks because it is not doing Christmas the right way.
I think the “War on Christmas” agitation is quite contrary to the spirit of Christmas that I learned as a child and still hold dear. In The Nurture Effect I devote a chapter to how we can build caring relationships with others and how fundamental doing so is to evolving a more nurturing society. There are many moving examples of forgiveness and caring to emulate and promote. Just one, for example, is the Amish community that took in and cared for the family of Charles Roberts after he killed five little Amish girls.
For me, Christmas has always been a time of…well as Ray Charles put it, “For being with the ones we love/Sharing so much joy and cheer/What a wonderful feelin’.”
In Matthew 5:38, Jesus says, “You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if someone wants to sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. If someone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you.”
So in that spirit, and in a country that is far more diverse than it used to be (but that was never exclusively a “Christian nation”), I would love it if everyone found Christmas a time to make us all a little bit more loving toward everyone else.
Yet I know that for some people – some Jewish friends for example – Christmas evokes feelings and images of threat. If I wish them to feel loved, happy, and cared for at this time of year, flooding them with images of Christmas will hardly do it. Wouldn’t I be truest to the spirit of Christmas by never mentioning the holiday to them?
If certain media outlets try to increase their audience share by riling up a small segment of the population by making them feel threatened by those who don’t celebrate Christmas, I am sure the republic will stand. But I hope that many more people will reach out to those whose beliefs differ from their own and communicate respect and caring for them.