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Editorial 670

Missy Layfield - Editor

Welcome Christmas!

Fahoo for-ays, Dahoo dor-ays
Welcome, Christmas! Come this way,
Fahoo for-ays, Dahoo dor-ays
Welcome, Christmas, Christmas Day!

So sings Cindy Lou Who and the entire population of Who-ville as they prepare for Christmas in Dr. Seuss’ "How the Grinch Stole Christmas.”

Here in America, we prepare for this mid-winter holiday in our own ways by decorating our homes, gathering with loved ones, shopping for gifts and baking sweet things to share with our friends. Many Christians decorate their homes with nativity scenes, wise men and angels as they focus on the religious Christmas.

The religious Christmas is the celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ, recognized by Christians as the Son of God and Savior. Christian churches are packed for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day services.

There are also millions of Americans who celebrate a Christmas that has little or no religious significance for them. Yet it’s a happy, warm holiday for everyone. The Christmas season means celebrating a season of love and caring for friends, family and your fellow man.

Plus there are millions of Americans who don’t celebrate Christmas of any kind. Those of the Jewish and Muslim faiths, atheists and others don’t celebrate Christmas or choose to celebrate a non-religious Christmas.

Yet each year as Halloween fades into the past, we are inundated with indignant and defensive accusations about the "War on Christmas.” It’s all over the media with a few spokespeople who bravely step forward to claim that they will fight in this war. They’re not afraid to stand up for the rights of American Christians. And increase their market share and book sales, while they’re at it.

At precisely the season that Christians celebrate the birth of the Prince of peace and goodwill, we get a rancorous debate, by supposed Christians warriors demanding that we force feed a Christian celebration on everyone in our schools, our communities, our public spaces.

The anger the "warriors” spew is decidedly un-Christ-like and does more to harm the cause of Christianity than any "Happy Holiday” ever could. Hey, who doesn’t want to join a bunch of people who defies their core beliefs to exclude and offend others? Sign me up!

Fortunately, there are also many Christians who recognize and attempt to live by the tenets of Christianity, the ones that call for acceptance and love of others, forgiveness and hope.

So try to ignore the warriors who would ruin your celebration of Christmas, whatever type of celebration you choose. Christmas is not under attack. It’s doing very well. There is no law against saying "Merry Christmas!” Never was. If a store chooses to be as inclusive as possible and asks employees to say, "Happy Holidays!” instead of "Merry Christmas!” so what?

If a public school hosts a Winter Play instead of a Nativity Pageant, it’s a sign that they are serving children from a variety of backgrounds and trying to include everyone, a goal one would hope all public schools would share. If you want a Nativity Pageant, volunteer at your church to direct one there.

If a public entity allows a religious display on public grounds, they must also allow displays reflecting other religious groups and atheist groups. In other words, Christian displays don’t get prime rights to public spaces. This really upsets the warriors.

While there is a tendency, especially among older Americans to wax nostalgic about how everything was better when we were young and nobody had to deal with all this liberal b.s. about including everyone, it helps to know that those good old days were not so good for everyone. Ask any Jewish or Muslim friend who was forced to sing Christmas carols. If you don’t think those kids existed, you are fooling yourself or you don’t have any non-Christian friends.

There is no "War on Christmas.” The American culture right now seems to be obsessed with seeking out signs of disrespect or attack. We’re beginning to look and sound like the Sharks and Jets of "West Side Story.” The slightest miscue or opposing view and the verbal knives come out and it’s a fight to the death.

For heaven’s sake, this is Christmas we’re talking about. Can’t we all just get along?

I’m going to thoroughly enjoy Christmas. My lights and tree are up. My celebration includes both Christian and secular traditions. I’ll light my Advent wreath candles and participate in my church’s services. I will send out Christmas cards that acknowledge my Christian beliefs, but only to those who share those beliefs. My non-Christian friends will be wished Happy Holidays or Happy New Year. It wouldn’t be Christmas without at least one visit with the Grinch and Frosty, two decidedly non-Christian traditions. If a store clerk wishes me a "Happy Holidays!” I’m going to be grateful for a cheerful store clerk. And I promise to bite my tongue when one of the Christmas warriors responds with a terse "Merry Christmas, it’s Christmas, you know!”

As for the "War on Christmas,” I plan to not engage. What would our community, our world look like if instead of fighting this war, all those warriors focused on following the tenets of the faith they claim to believe in. Treat others with respect. Share God’s love with each other in ways that can’t be wrapped in a bow. Use your gifts to help those in need.

Christmas could change the world, if only we let it.

Missy Layfield