Tuesday, December 13, 2005

The War on Christmas

My wacko far-right Mom recently emailed me an online petition to boycott Target. Seems the fundies have got their undies all in a bunch over Target's numerous perceived salvos in the so-called "war on Christmas". To wit:

- Their signs don't say "Merry Christmas"
- Employees aren't allowed to say "Merry Christmas"
- The Salvation Army was banned from their storefronts
(note that most of this is either inaccurate or incomplete - see snopes)

They have even taken to calling Target "anti-Christian".

Huh? Since when was a retailer anti- or pro- any specific religion? Since they don't wish "happy Hanukkah", I'll assume they are anti-Semitic also.

Target sells stuff, folks. Their goal is to make money for their shareholders, plain and simple. They have absolutely nothing to do with the spiritual, deeper, and real meaning of Christmas. And anyone looking to Target or Wal-Mart or any other large retailer for some sort of spirituality is clearly deluded and should instead seek out their nearest house of worship.

This happens every year, this whole "culture war" argument over "taking Christ out of Christmas." But the bottom line, is I don't buy it. I think it's one of those made-up controversies that gets the far-righties and fundies all fired up and writing checks to The Evil Rev. Dobson.

Now, I hold no brief for those who, in bowing to political correctness, avoid any religious connotation to the holiday for fear of offending others. Banning carols in school, calling it a "holiday tree" or "winter break", the generic "happy holidays" - I find it faintly ridiculous. But my experience has been that such overstepping is rare and far from the norm.

Some examples: our town (in the bluest state of Maryland) just held its annual Christmas parade, after which we helped light the Christmas tree. Throughout, the local high school bands (public!) marched by, blaring "Gloria in Excelsis Deo" and "O Come All Ye Faithful". The mall and shopping centers are festooned with "Merry Christmas", alongside "Happy Holidays" and all the rest. I volunteer at a local public school, where the band and choir were practicing their carols for tomorrow's Christmas show. The third graders were learning about the customs of Hanukkah (they did Christmas last week).

War on Christmas? Hmm. Well, then I'd say it's being waged almost as effectively as the war in Iraq.

Actually, there is a threat to Christmas. And it does come from Target. And Wal-Mart. And Macy's and Nordstrom's and Proctor and Gamble and Mattell and GE and all the rest who have turned this season into one of crass consumption, tasteless commercialism, and almost immoral materialism.

The threat comes from all those who work to materially profit from those words, "Merry Christmas". It comes from those who have redefined the holiday as a two-day bachannal. It comes from those evangelical churches who have cancelled Christmas Day services, so that they can instead relax at home with their families (seriously - I couldn't make this shit up if I tried.)

Frankly, I'd rather boycott a store that blares "Merry Christmas," as they are doing little more than exploiting this season. Truly, what does Christmas have to do with shopping? Give me Target and its kind, if bland, Happy Holidays.

In the meantime, here's what I'm going to do. I'm going to wish everyone I see a "Merry Christmas and Happy New Year". I'm going to work hard to avoid succumbing to the ludicrous expectations that our material culture places on this season. I'm going to email The Nearly As Evil Rev. Wildmon and ask him what the hell he's planning to do about those evil churches that have declared war on Christmas.

Join me?


Blogger Mason said...

I'll gladly join you.

11:24 PM  

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