Ending the War on Christmas

Ending the Real War on Christmasadventtree

Prior warning. This pastoral reflection won’t go the way you think it will go, but keep reading anyway.

Here is my prediction. In the next few weeks, whenever the news cycle is in need of a boost for ratings, networks will launch some “breaking news” revealing that the most sacred holiday of the year, Christmas, is under attack. But they will miss the real story.  From my point of view, the “War on Christmas” isn’t individuals who say “Happy Holidays.”

What has become known as the “Christmas Season” (from now till December 25) is more like a marketing event whose main purpose is to sell products. On the other hand, what the Church knows as the “Christmas Season” is the period of time from December 25 to January 13 ending with the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord. They are different. Our culture’s “Christmas Season” treats people as consumers buying products, but the Church’s “Christmas Season” treats people as Children of God who are invited to celebrate a relationship in which God comes to be with us as we are, for who we are. In my mind, the deception of the former is the real assault on Christmas.

Personally, I know that I am guilty of falling for it too. I used to be the first one after Thanksgiving to sing the songs, buy the presents, and glug the eggnog. But I found that when December 26 rolled around and nothing lived up to my expectation, I was eager to abandon any chorus of “Joy to the World.” I was sick of Christmas after just a day, because I was tired of it.

So I tried something different and I invite you to do the same. I didn’t celebrate the “Christmas Season” brought to you by a department store. I began to celebrate Advent, the season of preparation for Christmas. Instead, I took the four weeks prior to Christmas as time to concentrate on “hope and waiting” rather than “already arrived.” The idea of doing “Advent Shopping” instead of “Christmas Shopping” helped me change my perspective. The shift in focus was palpable and restorative in my spiritual life.

Now I probably went too far. At one point, I had an “Advent Tree” with purple and pink strings of light, but even so, now I have two music playlists, one with my “Advent List” including songs like “O Come, O Come, Emanuel” and “It’s beginning to look a lot Christmas” and then my “Christmas List” which includes the likes of “Joy to the World” and “We Three Kings.”

It may be odd, but in my own life, I have felt a real difference manifest by my disposition. Celebrating Advent as a time preparation has helped to avoid the trap that reduces Christmas to a consumerism. To me, that is the true “War on Christmas.” So plan on hearing from me “Merry Christmas” starting December 25 until well into January, because Christmas Day won’t be the end of the Christmas Season. It will be the beginning.

  • David Heimann, Pastoral Associate

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.