With one of the largest retail weekends immediately behind us, and a huge season of shopping upon us, I have a bone to pick with some Christmas retailers and reductionists.

Shop until ‘Christmas’ drops

The National Retail Federation, the largest retail trade association, is projecting only a 5 percent increase in Christmas season sales over last year, to the tune of $457.4 billion. That compares with last year’s 6.1 percent increase.

It appears as well that the majority of that increase (61 million people) will do their shopping on the Internet (up from 51.7 million last year).

What alarms me most, however, are not any economic forecasts, but the progressive disappearance of retail Christmas terminology.

What ever happened to ”Christmas?”

In the pursuit of being politically correct, I believe we have sold out to a neutered nativity ? taking no sides to the slow elimination of ”Christmas” in retail and culture.

Just say ‘Merry Christmas!’

Of course I’m not against December commerce, just the overcompensation of sensitivity that leads to Christmas compromise.

I enjoy giving and receiving Christmas gifts as much as anyone else, though I prefer those presents that build up mind, body and spirit, like the educational gifts found at Shop.WND.com or the fitness and other items found at our online store (the proceeds of which go to benefit our Kick Start program).

I want to challenge corporate management, private businesses, and the American public to keep the word ”Christmas” in their displays and advertisements, rather than replacing it with any generic ”holiday” language.

Don’t be afraid to inform businesses who keep ”Christmas” alive that you are appreciative and will encourage others to patronize their businesses. Notify those who do not that you will not. (That includes Internet companies ? the fastest growing shopping mall.)

If we don’t stop the decline of Christmas language now, imagine what the yuletide will be like in a few years: full of ”holiday” trees, ”holiday” gifts, ”holiday” wreaths, ”holiday” dinners, ”holiday” music, and ”holiday” church services. Come to think of it: we’re almost there!

It’s time to just say ”Merry Christmas!” Or there will be nothing merry about it for our children and grandchildren.

What mom modeled and so should we

Growing up in Oklahoma, Kansas and then California, our family was pretty poor by American standards.

We had so little money that I didn’t have real toys to play with, so I used clothespins and an active imagination.

The clothespins served as toy soldiers or cowboys. I made the big clothespins the bad guys and the little ones the good guys. Of course the larger they were, the harder they fell! (Imagery that would later serve my Martial Arts career.)

Despite our economic and domestic adversities, mom did the best she could with us three boys.

I can still remember her coming home exhausted from her job at the laundry and saying that we were blessed. We didn’t have much, but what we did have, we sure appreciated. And what we had most was each other, and the Lord.

Even though we had a hard life, mom maintained a strong faith in God. She instilled that faith in her sons and kept us in church.

Christmas in our hearts, not under the tree

Friends, we all must model and teach children that the heart of Christmas isn’t found under a tree. It’s discovered in our hearts.

We must also teach them that they were called to do more than consume resources; they were gifted to be a blessing and resource to others.

No wonder the Bible says it is better to give than to receive.

So call me old-fashioned

Some might call me old-fashioned, but I still believe in a white Christmas, chestnuts roasting on an open fire, and family and friends giving thanks to God.

Most of all, I still believe what mom taught me: the heart of Christmas is found in a stable not in a store.

No business can take away that fact from any of us.

(One of the best ways you and your family can be refreshed about the true meaning of Christmas this season is by seeing the new family-friendly movie, ”The Nativity Story,” opening in 3,000 theaters nationwide this Friday, Dec. 1. I recommend it highly!)

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