Ah! That time of year. The time of year when we debate what we should call this time of year. Merry Christmas? Happy Holiday? Happy Holy Days? Oh-crud, winter-is-here? I know a lot of my friends fall into "it needs to be Merry Christmas" camp...and that's okay. And I don't mind throwing out the occasional Merry Christmas, it's even on our greeting cards this year, but I'm kinda more of a Happy Holidays kind of gal. Now before some of you get all upset with me, hear me out.
1. Let's be honest, from mid November until January 2, we are in a season of holidays. Even if you do just celebrate the "big three" (Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year's), that's a lot of celebrating. Especially if you throw in every family gathering, every work party, every church celebration, every...well, you get the idea. There's a lot of holiday to go around.
2. There's a lot of behavior associated with "Christmas" that really doesn't do anything to celebrate Christ. Pepper spraying people for an XBox? Kind of discouraged on the sermon on the mount (you know, that whole if a man asks you for your cloak deal). Giving people lavish gifts we can't (or shouldn't) afford...also shows a bit of where our treasure is (more earth than heaven).
3. Even though I try to embrace it, there is a bit of the historical cynic in me that just screams "Jesus wasn't even born on Dec 25! The angels bringing the message looked more like my husband and less like my daughter..." All kinds of inaccuracies that have become part of the Christian side of Christmas time. I do think the nativity story...Christ willingly becoming one of us to save us, is a story I want to teach my children. We even do a nativity scene and talk about it (Annika asked when we got done where the cross was...I was blessed that already she knows the cross is the ultimate reason we celebrate Christ). But I'm not really a "Jesus is the reason for the season" person. The holiday originally began as an alternative to a very secular, very immoral Roman holiday. Christmas isn't something the Bible calls us to observe, we've made it that way. I'm not opposed to the nativity story at Christmas, it's a great time when a lot of ears are open, but the message of Jesus needs to go far beyond one day. God ordained several different feasts and festivals, especially during Old Testament times, but He never instructed us to make sure we read the nativity story under a Christmas tree after digging into a plate of cookies. None of those bad things, we just don't need to make mandatory what wasn't made mandatory.
I do love Jesus. I do think our passion needs to be directed into sharing the message of hope He brings, not in assuming everyone who says Happy Holidays is trying to be Politically Correct or is a heathen. I'm not saying don't celebrate Christmas, not at all. I think it is a perfect time to take time to spend time with family, reflect on what a gift God did give (cliche, I know) even if it did occur historically at a different time of the year, and to use our resources to help the poor, needy, oppressed, orphaned, and widowed.
So embrace your favorite greeting. Relish in your favorite tradition. Spend time with family and friends. Embrace those around you who have lost a loved one and will struggle this time of year. And know that God is not changed by what we do or how we celebrate Him. He does not need us to use "correct terminology" to be glorified, He doesn't need us. We need Him.