Why this Christian doesn’t want to put the “Christ” back in “Christmas”

Why this Christian doesn't want to put the Christ back in Christmas

You know those people in your Facebook feed? The ones who are yelping that Christmas is too commercial now and that no one remembers that “Jesus is the reason for the season”? The ones who are crusading to “put the Christ back in Christmas”?

Those people drive me nuts.

I think they are missing a huge point: Christmas has evolved to be a holiday for everyone who wants to celebrate it – whether they are Bible-loving Christians or not.

I feel perfectly comfortable saying this, and I’m a Christian – Catholic, to be exact. I know the original, religious meaning of Christmas, and my family and I celebrate it. We’ve got the Nativity scene and the advent wreath. We (try to) go to church. I even started reading a daily advent devotional this year.

But I don’t claim Christmas as only mine.

I’m more than okay with Christmas being everyone’s holiday. I love that Christmas has become a celebration of all that’s good in society: Peace. Hope. Joy. Love. Happiness. None of those things is specific to a religion. They’re specific to humanity.

Yes, Christmas absolutely has its roots in Christianity. It is a religious holiday for many people. Whether some people like it or not, though, Christmas doesn’t HAVE to be about religion for everyone.

So many things about Christmas have nothing to do with baby Jesus being born. Actually, ancient pagan practices are what drive a lot of the things we love about Christmas. Santa is secular (he has Christian roots, sure, but he’s totally secular now). Christmas trees, twinkling lights, festive wreaths, gingerbread houses…these are all fun Christmas things that aren’t religious, and as a Christian I’m totally okay with that.

By the way, we live in America, my friends. Not everyone is Christian, and many people have no reason or desire to celebrate Christmas, due to religious or other beliefs. We need to keep this in mind. I struggle with the fact that, even though I love it, Christmas permeates every aspect of American life in December. That’s difficult even if you view Christmas as a secular holiday, but still don’t celebrate it. But as we all know, Christmas isn’t going anywhere. Ever. It will always be a thing in America. Christianity has always been a part of our social fabric and probably always will be, for better or for worse. Faced with that fact, I like the idea of making this time of year as inclusive as possible, while not shoving Christmas in the faces of those who don’t want it.

I think a lot about my friends who are not Christian and feel overwhelmed by all the Christmas stuff for six weeks a year. I cringe when I’m at the grocery store and the Christmas music is blaring to an obviously culturally-diverse crowd. There’s not a whole lot that I can do to ease the onslaught of Christmas on my non-Christian friends, but I do what I can. I send out a holiday card instead of a Christmas card. I educate my kids about different cultural beliefs (and thankfully, their schools do an excellent job of this, too). And when I see a friend who I know is celebrating a different tradition, I ask about her celebrations and how things are going. Isn’t that the most Christian – and just plain kind and caring – thing to do?

As for the people who rage that commercialism has ruined Christmas? Whatever. It’s only ruined Christmas if you’ve let it. Christmas is about giving! What’s better than that? It’s all about spreading joy through holiday cards and reconnecting with friends at parties. Baking, cooking, making merry – all to celebrate the things that make life wonderful, like friends, family, and community. Many, many people spend much of this season donating time, money, and gifts to those less fortunate. Between my church, my girls’ schools, and my girls’ Girl Scout troops, we are giving left and right – and it’s awesome.

So if you’re Christian, sure – don’t forget the reason for the season. Celebrate Jesus’ birth and all the joy that goes with it.  But please don’t begrudge non-Christians their Christmas, too. You don’t have to be religious to celebrate the meaning of Christmas – which I’d argue is love. And love belongs to everyone.

What are your thoughts on Christmas and religion?

PS: If you want more thoughts on Christmas beliefs, check out this post on the day a little girl made a big announcement about Santa to my kindergartener’s class. Uh-oh.

PPS: And if you want some holiday funny, here’s how NOT to get a great holiday card photo of your kids, and my (fictional) humble brag Christmas card letter I wrote for Jen at People I Want to Punch in the Throat. Plus you can read about why my Elf on the Shelf is defective. And naughty. Happy holidays!

{homepage photo credit: jacilluch via photopin cc}

Dear rage-y people of the internet: Your constant fury is completely exhausting and, oh yeah, totally ineffective.

outraged about everything on internet

Well hi there, non-rage-y reader. Do you feel like lately, everywhere you look on the internet, someone is angry about something? And they’re demanding whatever it is must stop existing because goddammit, they don’t like it?

I do. And I think everyone just needs to calm the hell down.

All the outrage is positively exhausting. You go anywhere on social media and you’re inundated with fury over something. A piece of clothing. A song with suggestive lyrics. A regrettable tweet from a tween idol. It’s sexist! It’s insensitive! It’s deplorable! condemns the internet.

At least a couple times a week, an outrage catches on. Social media gets whipped up into a frenzy, and the internet mob is unleashed. The media jump into the fray and righteous indignation hits a fever pitch. Finally the offending party relents. Victory! Yay for the little guy! The power of social media! Right?

Sometimes. But a lot of times, not so much. A lot of times it would have been better to just walk away. Look away. Click away. Unbunch those undies, take a deep breath, and relax. Because in the end, all that righteous outrage doesn’t accomplish much more than raising our collective blood pressure.

Let me be clear: Sometimes I totally agree with what people are up in arms about. For example, I’m glad people have been talking about how photoshopped models and celebrities set an unrealistic standard of beauty. I like that the Dove Campaign for Real Beauty exists, and that Aerie is launching an ad campaign with untouched (though still quite slender) models. I love that a British department store is showing real models in its clothes. This is all good stuff. And it’s happening because enough people have spoken out over time so that finally – finally – the fashion industry is hearing them. It goes to show that continuous debate about an issue can eventually cause meaningful change.

So I’m not saying we shouldn’t advocate for issues that we care about. I’m saying we need to be selective with our outrage and direct it in a more productive manner.

In other words, let’s stop freaking out about every slightly offensive t-shirt.

I mean, I get it. I see my fellow parents’ online fury, and I know it comes from a strong desire to protect our children. But all that fury is just not productive.

Trying to shelter our kids from every awful message out there is an exercise in futility. Even if you do cause a stink and get a moderately offensive t-shirt removed from the shelves, once the roar dies down that t-shirt will be replaced by similar ones that are waiting in the wings. We can’t control that.

But we can control how we react to the crappy messages and set an example for our kids. We can talk to them about why we should reject those messages, and explain that our sense of self-worth shouldn’t be dictated by a crummy t-shirt. And we can discuss (and model) when it’s good to take a stand and protest something – and when it’s better to just talk about it and move on.

And then maybe, eventually, those t-shirts with messed-up messages will stop existing because people won’t buy them. Not because of a boycott of one shirt by some furious parents. But because our kids will make up their own minds that they simply don’t want them. Kind of like they’ve shown over the years that they don’t want magazines with emaciated models in them.

How about we make a pact to not fuel the constant internet fire of righteous indignation? When we see unnecessary outrage brewing, let’s vow to take a deep breath and say, to quote a wise(ass) friend of mine, Namaste, motherf***ers. And just click away.

Unless it’s fury over the CEO of Abercrombie. THAT GUY PISSES ME OFF.

<breathing>

Namaste, you creepy Abercrombie jerk. Namaste.

 

photo credit: Floyd Brown via photopin cc

When did weekends stop being fun?

What do you do on your weekends?

Perhaps scenarios such as these are the norm for your family:

Idyllic days spent exploring the latest children’s museum…

Gathering with extended family to enjoy a cousin’s soccer game…

Watching your kids frolic at a class birthday party while you and your spouse chat with other parents and sip coffee…

Did I hear a snort of laughter? Yes?

Ah, then perhaps your weekends are more like mine:

ENDLESS LAUNDRY. I do six or seven loads of laundry, fold some, and leave the rest in heaps in the den, living room, and bedroom.

I grumble about hating laundry while Hubs reminds me that it wouldn’t pile up if we would each just do a load a few times a week.

Then I give him the hairy eyeball because I know he’s right but I also know doing laundry during the week is as likely as a personal maid showing up to do it for me.

GRUMPY CHILDREN. Hubs takes Anne to indoor soccer. I stay home with Grace. I subsequently endure 1.5 hours of whining and crying because she wants to go to soccer, too.

I then proceed to wonder why my younger child isn’t appreciating the mommy time she always seems to want when I have to work. Or when I am just trying to get five minutes – FIVE MEASLY MINUTES – to check Facebook. Or Twitter. Or email. Whatever. Just FIVE minutes.

(NON)QUALITY FAMILY TIME. Eventually we resort to throwing the kids in front of TV an embarrassing number of times in two days in order to pay bills, do dishes, make dinner, put away groceries, and fold that damn laundry.

The whole time, I feel immense guilt that I are not broadening my kids’ horizons with cultural activities. Then I feel immense horror at the gleeful yet glazed-eyed look the kids have while watching Sophia the First for the 146th time.

*sigh*

That’s generally what my weekends have been like lately. I don’t know if it’s because I’m working more. Or if it’s the crummy New England crap winter. Or if I am just a weak, bad parent. Maybe a little of all of those reasons. But I’m sick of it.

I’m tired of seeing friends “checking in” on Facebook at some lovely educational museum with their kids, and then some fun restaurant after, while I’m home scrubbing dishes and ignoring my kids.

I want to do fun things on the weekends with the kids and my husband. I want to find a way to have less chores and errands to do, and more time to hang out and relax. Or actually go somewhere fun. I hear there are places like that.

We just have to find a way to make it happen more often. But how, when bills have to be paid, clothes have to be washed, shopping has to get done, and so on?

How do you manage to do the necessary stuff on the weekends, but still have fun? Or have you been finding it almost impossible, too?

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