Every year facebook blows up with the annual Christmas debates.
Kind, wonderful, sweet people who I know to be Christians heap on the annual holiday guilt.
I find I have committed all kinds of Christmas sin.
Time for a couple of confessions. Sigh.
1. I have been known to say “Happy Holidays!”
Not with any ill will, or Jesus-defiling heart. But out of actually meaning for the person to enjoy the holiday season…like Thanksgiving and Christmas and New Year’s. Maybe it is sheer laziness, but “Happy Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s!” just doesn’t sound as nice as “Happy Holidays!” Perhaps it is because “Happy Holidays” is an alliteration, and I love alliterations. Perhaps it is because I prefer communication to be succinct. Whatever the case may be…I confess to you, I have used this phrase.
I have ACTUALLY received a rather terse dress-down for saying “Happy Holidays!”
However, it IS, in fact, the holidays! It is called the holidays.
It is referred to as The Holidays.
Maybe it is just me, but I am confused.
2. I have used Xmas. Seriously. No joke.
Here is a brief explanation of Xmas:
The abbreviation of ‘Xmas’ for ‘Christmas’ is neither modern nor disrespectful. The notion that it is a new and vulgar representation of the word ‘Christmas’ seems to stem from the erroneous belief that the letter ‘X’ is used to stand for the word ‘Christ’ because of its resemblance to a cross, or that the abbreviation was deliberately concocted “to take the ‘Christ’ out of Christmas.” Actually, this usage is nearly as old as Christianity itself, and its origins lie in the fact that the first letter in the Greek word for ‘Christ’ is ‘chi,’ and the Greek letter ‘chi’ is represented by a symbol similar to the letter ‘X’ in the modern Roman alphabet. Hence ‘Xmas’ is indeed perfectly legitimate abbreviation for the word ‘Christmas’ (just as ‘Xian’ is also sometimes used as an abbreviation of the word ‘Christian’). http://forums.catholic.com/showthread.php?t=586
And even if you don’t buy into the historical explanation, consider the possibility that people aren’t writing Xmas purely to invoke your ire. Maybe they are in a hurry, maybe they know the origins of it. Maybe they just like writing the letter X. The probability that it is actually some kind of diabolical conspiracy against Christmas is minuscule.
Quibbling year after year over things that really have no eternal consequences…I just don’t get it. I was being rather silly before, however, it really does grieve me. That we, as the body of Christ, would bicker over something that is so asinine.
With that in mind, I have decided to spend this holiday season not just decking the halls, but also, making sure I am only getting irritated about things that truly matter.
And let’s be clear, Happy Holidays and Xmas are not it.
Ponder these realities:
110,000 children in the American foster care system will have no family for Christmas.
If they are over 8 years of age, the likelihood of them ever getting a family is slim-to-none.
And they know this.
Consider changing this statistic by going here: http://www.adoptuskids.org/ or http://www.heartgalleryofamerica.org/
Children with Special Needs are easily handed over to the governments in certain Eastern European countries (which need to remain nameless until AFTER our adoption of Auggie). These children are labeled “incapacitated.” Destined to live a life in a mental institution because they look different or don’t learn in quite the same way as other children. Statistics are grim. Once ageing out of a baby house and into an institution, 50%-80% of children with Down Syndrome will die within one year.
Consider changing this statistic by going here: http://www.reecesrainbow.com/
3.4 million people die each year from a water-related illness. 780 million people on the globe lack access to what pours cleanly out of my faucet with easy, wild, abandon. It is estimated that it would cost about $9 billion to fix the water crisis. The $9 billion needed is significantly less than the $12 billion that was spent last year by the U.S. and European nations on perfume.
Consider changing this statistic here: http://water.org
More than 72 million primary school aged children are not being educated. There is a direct correlation between poor education and poverty, malnutrition, and infant mortality.
Consider changing this statistic here: http://www.humanium.org/en/world/right-to-education/
or sponsor a child here: http://www.compassion.com/
It is estimated that 925 million people go undernourished daily. A person dies from hunger about every 3.6 seconds. That’s more than 20,000 people per day.
Consider changing this statistic here: http://www.worldvision.org/our-impact/food-agriculture?campaign=11935155
This holiday season, I challenge you, me, everyone to get some perspective.
As we run around trying to get presents to satiate our family’s appetite for stuff…
Maybe smile a little more at the clerk who tells you “Happy Holidays!”
Maybe buy a little less and give a little more.
Maybe decide to not make excuses, but to make a difference.
We all hold that power.
The journey to making a difference goes much more smoothly when we can put aside inconsequential arguments and act. Act on behalf of hungry, starving people. Act for family-less children. Act for the uneducated, the poverty-stricken, the hurting, the broken. I guarantee these people groups do not care if you wish them a Merry Xmas or Merry Christmas or Happy Holidays. And they shouldn’t.
Neither should we.
Merry Christmas, friends.
Please post links in the comments!