There IS a War on Christmas, but it Isn’t What You Think

Christmas has been hijacked.

Dec 1, 2018

It’s only been a few days after American Thanksgiving (I’m Canadian, hence the distinction), and on numerous occasions, I’ve heard about “the war on Christmas.” Evangelicals are lamenting that “Christ is being removed from Christmas!”

Even Donald Trump has vowed to bring “Merry Christmas” back and settle this “war on Christmas.”

I agree there is a war on Christmas, but I do not think this war is caused by phrases like “Happy Holidays,” “Seasons Greetings,” or “Merry Xmas.”

This war begins when Christ is replaced with consumerism, not when Merry Christmas is removed.

A phrase does not define Christmas, Christ does.

Advent counts down to the coming of the newborn King Jesus and reminds us that one day He will return to Earth again.

Where is Jesus during Advent today?

Where can we find Jesus in today’s consumerism?

Where is Jesus among the exuberant spending sprees?

Is Jesus in the “Merry Christmas” I wish my store clerk as I walk away with way too many purchases?

The gospels tell us exactly where we can find Jesus, and guess what, He is not in the shopping, stores, sales, or even Christmas phrases.

Christ reminds his followers that he is glorified when the sick, poor, or hungry, are helped, clothed, and fed. When the poor are served, Christ is served.

We too quickly forget that the gifts given to Christ by the Magi were gifts given to a young poor child, who would be a refugee. The gifts were not purchased at a Black Friday sale in ample quantities.

Who then, is keeping Christ IN Christmas?

I’m not convinced store windows that say “Merry Christmas” keep Christ in Christmas, especially when their window also proclaims a gospel of spending.

Conversely, food banks, soup kitchens, and homeless shelters are on their hands and knees serving those who Christ calls attention to. These services put Christ back into Christmas without even saying “Merry Christmas.” In fact, a food bank does a greater service of pointing to Christ by feeding the poor and saying “Happy Holidays,” than a megastore does by selling copious electronics and saying “Merry Christmas.”

The consumerism that we now call Christmas has long lost the gift tradition started in Matthew chapter two. If that’s the case, why do we need “Merry Christmas” in store windows? If the consumerism being celebrated is so starkly different from what Christmas is all about, why are evangelicals up in arms about “Happy Holidays?”

In fact, to force stores who preach the gospel of “Buy! Buy!! Buy!!!” into saying “Merry Christmas” is an appropriation of the word Christmas. It actually changes the meaning of “Merry Christmas.”

When I see “Happy Holidays!” exclaimed across corporate megastores and wholesale bargain bins I’m content. I don’t need to see consumerism married with the term “Merry Christmas,” because consumerism is a different holiday than the Christmas the gospels present.

Even while the war continues, enjoy Christmas. Give gifts and spend time with family, but remember that Christmas is not defined by a phrase but by a Person. And that Person is glorified by providing for the poor.

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays.