If Christmas is all about trees and pointless consumerism, I want no part of it
A few years ago, Fox News started preaching about a “War on Christmas.” Being raised as a fundamentalist Christian. I couldn’t understand what they were talking about. From Halloween onward, there were Christmas decorations everywhere.
Gretchen Carlson whined that she had to drive her kids around for hours to find nativity scenes in front of banks or public places. She then complained about how nativity sets in Santa Monica that were displayed on one street resulted in a lawsuit. I still didn’t get it. How could anyone whine about this in a multicultural city like New York? Anyone is free to put up a nativity on their front lawn.
When my son was young, there was a neighborhood called Candy Cane Lane. I would pick him up after work and drive through the neighborhood before traffic hit. We got to see these beautifully decorated homes early and we went nearly every day.
In the 20 years since then, right wing Christians have gone all-in with this so-called “War on Christmas” mantra, so naturally I decided to declare war on Christmas myself, in my own way.
Since my own mother had put the kibosh on Christmas consumerism, I decided to do the same last year. She had a collection of nativities that I inherited when she passed away. I decided not to get a tree and just set up her nativity sets. Some were lit by candles and others were lit with bulbs.
For the first time in my life, I sent out no cards, bought no gifts and spent Christmas day alone. I refused to shop or buy gifts for anyone. I doubt that after Christmas day anyone even noticed.
In January, I found out that Target, Neiman Marcus and other commercial outlets had been hit by hackers. They had stolen credit and debit cards numbers of customers along with their pin numbers. Millions of people had to order new cards. After hearing about the breaches I sort of chuckled to myself. Not only did I save a lot of money, I didn’t need to worry about identity theft.
My war on Christmas is of consumerism. It is amazing that so many people think Black Friday is a holiday in and of itself. Let me point out that Thanksgiving is always a four day holiday as is Christmas. Convenient for retailers who want to discourage returns or exchanges.
What I did was shed the materialism and focused on what the holiday meant in the first place. I did put up some lights, visited the Macy’s Christmas tree and had a peppermint mocha. That was enough. I chose not to be with family watching children open gifts only to see them look at them, throw them on the floor and wait for the next gift.
While I understand that many people see Christmas as a way to say thank you to their loved ones, I also recognize the checklist that they have. After a few hours, the checklist just becomes “Buy whatever you think will make someone aware that I thought about them.” It makes me sick to think about. Especially a holiday about Jesus who was not a sellout.
Since I have started this new tradition, I feel so free. Nobody is expecting anything from me. They know how I feel. The illusion of Santa Claus is cute to children, but after a certain age, kids know where the gifts come from. I remember buying a gift for my nephew only to have him throw it back because it wasn’t what he was hoping for. I was disgusted.
The war on Christmas is a propaganda fairy tale. What I care about is my own experience and what I pass on to my own kids. My son’s favorite Christmas is when I could only afford a $5.00 tree and he only received hockey trading cards because I was that financially strapped. To this day, he says that was the best Christmas ever.
So like I said, this year I am doing the same thing. I refuse to buy (pun intended) into the commercialism and materialism of Christmas. Maybe I am confused by the way I was raised, but it is a mixed message. It is either about the birth of Jesus and giving humble gifts or it is about having a picture with Santa and 100 gifts under the tree.
Some people believe that Jesus is fictional, but to honor my mother and her beliefs, I will continue to display her nativities, refrain from consumerism and focus on missing her on a holiday with so many fond memories. Put up a nativity in your home or yard and call it a day. Make a feast, enjoy your family and loved ones and forget about everything else.
I actually agree with a lot of what you are saying . . . . even Christians fall into the trap that this time of year holds. I also know that you are smart enough to understand that Christians like my self don’t understand why a group like the FFRF would threaten a lawsuit on the great little town of Piedmont, Alabama for “Themeing” thier Christmas Parade “Keep Christ in Christmas”. That is what I see the war on Christmas being . . . . there’s never any Joy in such an activity and regardless of your stance, this time of year should be about such things (Joy happiness and memories like the one you mentioned). There are many more examples of this but in the end we all must be responsible for keeping Christmas in our hearts. If you prefer Holiday Season or Winter Solstice so be it, but why would anyone want to deprive others of the true reason that Christmas exists?
Great article, Michelle. I fully agree with you regarding consumerism. My wife and I have spent the last several years on Christmas day opening our home to feed people who would otherwise be alone, or in a homeless shelter. I would much rather spend my money and time on people who will truly appreciate the kindness rather than give it to big business.
Beautiful. So glad to know I am not alone.
The Gretchen Carlson reference is priceless.
First, anyone can decorate their private property with a Nativity as long as their decorating job does not violate local ordinances or neighborhood restrictions. I’d like to know the details of the lawsuit filed in Santa Monica about which Ms. Carlson spoke—off the cuff, I suspect she is omitting some pretty pertinent details.
Second, why was she looking for Nativities “in front of banks or public places” in specific? Did a Nativity in front of a church or on someone’s front lawn not suffice? If she couldn’t find one in front of a church then she might want to take that up with ecclesiastical authorities and not use it as fodder for the blah, blah, blah of a “cultural war on Christmas.” If she couldn’t find one on someone’s front lawn then she might want to, well, put one on her own front lawn—she and her kids would then be participants and not just spectators. As to “banks or public places,” it is not the job of private businesses or anyone in the public sector to do what we Christians and/or our churches are perhaps not willing to do or interested in doing.
As to the annual hand-wringing about “the reason for the season”—I despised that line the first time I heard it and my feelings about it have never changed!—I made my peace with Christmas some many years ago and have enjoyed it immensely ever since. No longer at war with it, we get along quite fine these days.
I really like your comment! Thank you. Here’s a link to the lawsuit in Santa Monica, CA…a predominantly Jewish neighborhood anyway.
Here is a link to the Jon Stewart “War on Christmas” segment from The Jon Stewart show that has several Gretchen Carlson clips. Enjoy!
Do you have any grandkids Michelle? : ) You’re right, but Sisyphus comes to mind.
LOL!! Nice one! No grandkids yet but in the next five years probably. The last decade or so has been a reprieve for now 🙂
Thank you for reminding all of us of your understanding for the true meaning of the holiday and that no one is trying to declare war on it for Christians. As a non-Christian, I have not been able to understand why anyone would consider anyone against Christmas by declaring war on it, but I am against the assumption that during the time period from October to January ‘everyone’ celebrates it. Insisting that sales persons wish each and every customer “Merry Christmas” instead of “Happy Holiday” flies in the face of many millions who are nonChristians and do not celebrate Christmas, but still are daily consumers. Last year when I went to pay for something I was purchasing, there were two cashiers working together who quickly wished me “Merry Christmas” and as they did, said to me “See I’m not afraid to say “Merry Christmas”. In response, I said “No, you should never be afriad to wish people “Merrry Christmas” when you know they celebrate it, but I don’t, so allow me to wish you a Merry Christmas and ask that you not assume I am Christian…Instead, “Happy Chanukkah” will do just fine, or better yet, “Happy Holiday” so that you aren’t assuming that everyone is Christian at Christmas time.
I like your line of thinking.
Thank You for the detailed explanation of the true meaning of XMAS /Christmas. ..ie…$$$$
America is primarily a pool of Sheeple that Major Corporations exploit at will for profit…subsequently the true meaning of Holidays are secondary to the amount of cash that can be siphoned. ..Cinco de Mayo…St Patrick’s Day…Even Veterans Day have become consumer driven buyfests that have no bearing on the True Meaning of the Occasion…
I appreciate the compliment.
Another great one Michelle. I am going into this with my eyes wide open. Thank you.
I appreciate your feedback.