Christmas is just a few days away. I know this not by the advent calendar I own and the tiny candies I eat from it. Nor do I realize this as the numerous end-of-the-year movie top-10 lists begin pouring out. Even the lights, the wreaths, and 6-foot, front porch Santa Clauses don’t really tell me Christmas is here. The reason I know it is Christmas is because of the general hospitality around me and the vicious hatred of those who wish to divide.
How ironic that Christmas can be a time that brings families, friends and co-workers together, but also a launching pad for those against the religious side to spew out venom.
The beauty of Christmas is how both the secularist and the saint can celebrate together. While the nonreligious can partake in the holiday festivities through tree decorating, caroling, ugly-sweater parties and gift exchanges, the saint can participate in all those and set time aside to worship with midnight mass and nativity scene set-ups. Both can enjoy the season and come together in supporting each other.
And in many ways Christmas is the most universal holiday we celebrate as a nation. Yes, it is a national holiday, and let us not forget that.
Yet Christmas is more than a national holiday; it is a holiday for the world. All over the globe, Santa is very well-represented. The message of toys for good girls and boys is a wonderful reminder that good actions reap positive rewards. St. Nicholas would be proud to have inspired such an icon.
Meanwhile, on the religious front, Christianity attempts to unite the whole world with the Christmas story. In the NIV (New International Version) Bible, the Gospel according to Luke amplifies that message in verses 10 and 11: “But the angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord.’ ” Notice the Christmas reason for the season presents a story of “good news” for “all the people.” What a comforting thought that this holiday is not isolated to one part of the world, but is for all who want to embrace it.
Sadly, all over the country, frustrated citizens are protesting this unifying message of good news. In Santa Monica, a 60-year tradition of numerous nativity displays has been hijacked by angry atheists. Instead of 21 lots of land brightened with an ongoing motif of baby Jesus displays, there were large banners put up instead, calling Christmas a myth.
According to the Los Angeles Times, Annie Laurie Gaylor, co-president of the Freedom from Religion Foundation, said December is a busy time for the organization’s attorneys, who challenge the use of public spaces for religious messages.
“It’s littering — literally, littering — these spaces,” Gaylor said of such displays, which she said are a “territorial attempt by Christians to impose their beliefs in this season.”
“That creates an atmosphere of intimidation,” said Gaylor. “Christians are the insiders, and everyone else is an outsider.”
But isn’t creating and displaying giant banners calling Christmas a myth also imposing beliefs on people? Or are these groups so egotistical and self-centered that they believe their opinions are not opinions at all but just the long-standing flag of truth?
I wonder if Gaylor also objects to Santa in general? He is a myth, after all. I wonder if she pulls aside her children’s friends and reminds them of the horrific lies and fables about the North Pole, the elves and that clown Rudolf.
Obviously, these groups are declaring war on Christmas, but let’s remember that those who object to the joyful and colorful celebration of the season are those who offer no other alternatives. They simply destroy and tear down without building back up.
So to these modern-day Scrooges I say, peace be to you and your loved ones. Because, ironically, the only way for you to partake in the misery you deserve is to be fully engulfed by the holiday bliss surrounding us and the positive effects of the season.