Given the times we live in, people like me are more than a little grateful to have grown up in pre-politically correct America. We knew life during a time when Christmas was supported and positively promoted by practically every venue in our society.
The most delightful times of my youth were spent with family and friends, at home and in church at Christmastime. I also had valuable Christmas training and wonderful experiences in public school, both elementary and high. Each year a blanket of Christmas parties, plays, musical programs and story-telling presentations garnered our collective reverence and inspired our creative hands to produce green and red, construction-paper classroom decorations. Cherished life-long memories were etched by four years of participation in our high school choir. We sang many, many carols at Christmas concerts produced for our parents and community. In my senior year, we proudly mastered singing “Ave Maria” in Latin.
There was no other time of year when my young world seemed to operate in a more perfect unison of Christian purpose.
By the height of the season the Christmas Spirit seemed to seep into even the crustiest personalities. The clerks in the department stores were genuinely warm and readily chirped “Merry Christmas” at the end of each sale. Strangers smiled as they bustled along with their brightly colored Christmas shopping bags. The red kettle and clang of the Salvation Army worker’s bell reminded us to be charitable. Alighting passengers greeted bus drivers with a cheerful “Merry Christmas!” and he generally returned their greetings. Often, when a passenger was about to leave the bus, he or she would turn back to their friends, wave and say “Merry Christmas!” And invariably, as if rehearsed, a chorus of both friends and strangers would ring out “Merry Christmas!” The sweetness of those moments always made me smile.
As a teen, I savored the times I spent Christmas sight-seeing in Chicago.
I browsed stores, museums and parks imbibing the decorations, while receiving the Christmas Spirit people so readily shared.
I tried to see as many giant Christmas trees as possible, especially the ones in Grant Park and the Marshall Fields atrium. Each year, my biggest thrill was the “Christmas Around the World” exhibit and the Museum of Science and Industry. Each and every time my eyes first beheld the hundreds of ethnically decorated trees, my mouth involuntarily fell open while whispering, “Wow.”
It was not unusual to see large crowds, abuzz with excitement, gathered around department store display windows to view the animated Christmas scenes (I particularly loved the Marshall Fields’ Victorian Christmas). Separate and elaborate nativity scenes were also commonly displayed by most department stores. Christmas music was gently piped onto the streets from shops and was heard inside larger stores. The sound of familiar Christmas music seemed to have a comforting affect upon the shoppers. I often heard lone shoppers humming the tunes or softly singing the lyrics to themselves.
Above our heads, graceful angels with trumpets heralding the birth of Baby Jesus, and banners exclaiming “Noel” and “Emanuel!” hung on the downtown and neighborhood street light poles. Our town dressed up for Christmas, made us proud and instilled excitement and great expectations in me and my friends. I shall never forget our glee-filled voices, the warm hugs, sparkly eyes and sincere smiles that enveloped my early Christmases.
From my youthful perspective, everybody seemed happier and a bit nicer during Christmas Advent. I was sure that all kinds of people loved Christmas and looked forward to its inevitable approach each year.
Today, from an adult perspective, it is clear to me that not “everybody” in America loves Christmas. As a matter of fact, it is apparent that there are political entities and non-Christian groups that, indeed, hate the American celebration of Christmas.
We now live in an era, when all that we, the Christian majority, value and have taken for granted about the fabric of our “American way of life” is under unrelenting assault. Christian moral values, which have been the standard for acceptable social interaction, are being challenged by well-heeled super-minority enclaves. It seems these groups have conspired underground for a long time to array their minions into powerful positions (in our courts/governments, our colleges/universities and in American media) in order to launch strategic, mean-spirited campaigns designed to deprive the American Christian majority of its rights to freely carry out Christmas activities in the public square.
These well organized, substantially funded forces hold goals in common. They are using the courts of law to intimidate the Christian majority into relinquishing its hold on our cultural authority. They also seek to deny America’s Christian heritage by way of their revisionist histories. Finally, they seek to immobilize and silence the Christian majority via dogmatically enforced political correctness.
Like termites eating away at the infrastructure of a house, these activists are undermining the structure of our Christian culture. Their activist judges are not only misinterpreting state, federal and Constitutional law; they are foisting “new laws” upon the people from the bench. Their activist hound-dog organizations are routinely litigating small towns into abandoning their Christian traditions, such as displaying nativity scenes. Most importantly, they have focused on preventing American children from receiving and practicing generation-to-generation Christian social protocol and public ritual behavior that was unquestioned in all previous generations.
Reports from across the nation of outrageous examples of stifling and oppressive censorship of students by school officials has caused great alarm. Students have been prevented from singing Christmas carols. School districts have banned the use of the term “Christmas” to describe vacations, parties, wreaths and trees. Students have been prevented from using the Christmas colors red and green for parties and decorations. And kindergarteners have been prevented from drawing pictures of Jesus.
Thankfully, organizations like the Alliance Defense Fund and the Thomas Moore Law Center are valiantly defending Christian rights against the tyranny of secularists.
What can we do?
In a recent discussion with my friend Donna Priester, she brought to my attention the effects of displacing the word “Christmas.” She essentially said that by censoring the word “Christmas” and substituting it with “holiday” or any other word, the name of Christ is not spoken millions upon millions of times each day of the Christmas season, by millions upon millions of people.
She implored me to think about how many times the name of Christ is self-censored from coming out of our mouths with the use of the term “holiday”; and think about how many millions of times that the name of Christ is therefore not heard by America’s children.
When we say “Happy Holidays” instead of “Merry Christmas,” it displaces the name of Christ, and it steals our joy in the season, because Christ “inhabits His praise.”
But when we say “Merry Christmas,” we release the Spirit of the Lord and the joy that His Spirit brings. When we use traditional Christmas language, we speak the name of Christ innumerable times each day when referring to the things we use to celebrate Christmas – like Christmas tree, Christmas lights, Christmas wreath, Christmas candy, Christmas present, Christmas concert, Christmas cookie, and so on. These items are all byproducts of Christendom and do not belong to any other religion. We should not allow these “cultural tools” to be hijacked and disassociated from their exclusively Christian purpose.
In the not-too-distant past, because Christ-sensitive language was the only language we used, the name of Christ saturated American society at Christmas. We Christians can bring about that reality again. We must stand against all manipulations by refusing to be culturally intimidated, by consciously utilizing our Christian cultural word, will and way.
The solution to censorship, therefore, is free speech. The solution to organized encroachments against Christmas is to confront them with acts of Christian courage. When the sales clerk says “Happy Holidays” to you, summon the courage to say “Merry Christmas” in return. When you receive emails from Internet merchants who want you to shop with them, but refuse to use the word “Christmas” yet present all the trappings of Christmas, send a reply message that lets them know how unhappy you are with their advertising approach.
When your favorite home design magazine sends you a December issue that hijacks the Christian cultural images of Christmas, but you do not see the word “Christmas” nor nativities in their descriptions or displays, email the editor or customer service and tell them that you consider their Christmas censorship an insult, and request that they “return” to recognizing Christmas for the culturally religious holiday that it is, and respect the sensibilities of their Christian customers.
Become a Christian Christmas activist. Pick up “101 Ways to Have A Christian Christmas,” and put into practice one of its ideas for your home, family, neighborhood, business district and your church.
Over the course of each Advent season, the average American Christian will be confronted with several opportunities to exercise his or her Christian courage. It is imperative that “we the people” preserve our traditional, Christian, cultural heritage. The preservation of that heritage is inextricably connected to the recognition that we are Christians, in a Christian nation that was founded for the free worship of Jesus Christ.
Our governments are carefully constructed to protect our right of “free worship.” The only way, we as a people, can maintain our Christian freedoms is by using them. We, as Americans, simply have to practice who and what we say we are, unashamedly, without reservation or hesitation, in the presence of our children for posterity’s sake, before the eyes of the world.
Every Christian in America should feel free to bestow the blessings of our dear Lord and Savior upon every soul on earth, and especially wish the people of our nation a very cheerful “Merry Christmas!”