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Section A: General News


Editorial: Understanding the real meaning of Christmas — or not!




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About politics and other things
November 21, 2012 | 1,052 views | Post a comment

The weather in Texas is more like summer than fall. Thanksgiving is not quite here, but getting close, and this balmy Texas weather has me tempted to kick on the air conditioner.

So why are we even thinking about Christmas? Actually, we all know that it is unavoidable.

I know this is something that the younger folks will find hard to believe, but Christmas merchandise used to be kept out of sight until after Thanksgiving. Then the custom morphed into waiting at least until after Halloween, but even that is no more. Increased marketing and competition among retailers now makes Christmas almost a year-round venture.

The meaning of Christmas continues to be debated. There are movements to “Keep Christ in Christmas” and, to some, merely saying “Merry Christmas” is making a political statement. However, the next time you read about some municipality or school district trying to ban the Nativity scene from public property or force school children to change Christmas programs to “holiday” or “winter” programs, perhaps you will recall this little parable.

It is quite evident that to the public, Christmas is not so much to do with religion or church or anything like the “separationists” claim. We have come to accept the commercial side of Christmas -- with reservations, of course. But there are those who clamor for separation of church and state every time there is a Nativity scene on a public square, some kid says a prayer out loud in school, or someone wears a T-shirt that says “Vote for the Bible” into the polling place. These are the subjects of long and expensive lawsuits between the likes of the ACLU and Christian groups.

For others, connecting Christmas to religion is quite comforting and they view as sacrilegious any suggestion otherwise.

It seems that Christians would have it both ways: It’s really a Christian holiday. Well, usually.

As would those who oppose Christmas: It’s really a clever marketing tool. Well, not always.

I’m convinced of that, after the experience last week, that Christians should not have to worry about defending their “holy day” in court. Marketers have completely subverted this most revered Christian holy day.

The aisles of Walmart were filled, as we have come to expect, with every toy, holiday decoration, or simply must-have gift imaginable. But the deciding moment came when, over all this chaos, I heard Christmas music.

Not just any Christmas music, but the strains streaming from the store’s sound system were none other than “Silent Night.” This beautiful, internationally recognized hymn is one of the all-time favorites for Christians and non-Christians alike. In itself, “Silent Night” is almost considered sacred, but it didn’t make me want to buy stuff. Even “Here Comes Santa Claus” would have been preferable!

We know that Santa Claus has little to do with the birth of Jesus Christ, but churches and the faithful continue to do everything they can to preserve their own religious interpretations of Christmas. Certainly, we do in our home and our family.

But when it comes to protests of church-state violations, I think all we have to do is look at the merchandising in local retail shops to see that its secular existence has taken on a life of its own.

“Silent Night” blaring from a store sound system in mid-November on a hot Texas day two weeks before Thanksgiving does not add to the “real” meaning of Christmas.

Christmas has, indeed, been hijacked.
 

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