It’s Christmas. It’s not Santa Claus time or Santa Claus season. It’s not about Christmas trees although it is about presents and giving and sharing…and caring. Trees and lights and displays and shopping and parties and all the extraneous activities, however stressful and distracting, are symbols and manifestations of a celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ.
That’s it in a nutshell. It is a religious celebration regardless what you believe in or whether you believe. And, it’s a nationally recognized holiday (meaning Holy Day) even though not all citizens are Christian and there is no government established religion in this country. However, you can celebrate or observe or not. You can also celebrate without believing or taking part in any religious ceremonies, explicit or tacit. Some places you can work on Christmas Day if you want. Or, if you are a business, no law says you must close or stay open. In other words, observe, take part, go along, ignore, forget about, or even oppose. Each has a freedom to do as he or she chooses and government won’t interfere.
Of course, as a nation we could choose not to observe any holidays, particularly religious ones. No point in Christmas vacations for schools, or a specific day off and so forth. Note that Easter isn’t a national holiday. We can do anything we want with holidays (used generically). Note that founder James Madison once commented that government should “take no cognizance of religion”. At least, I think that’s the quote.
Along those lines, an atheist group in New York City, on a large billboard advertisement, declared that it was time to get rid of the Christ in Christmas. By definition that would be a bit ridiculous, but we could rename it. Winter solstice maybe. Fine, make it a vacation period much like the European August vacation time. Instead of gathering with family and friends we could scatter across the country and churches could vie for the attention. At least for now, I think the churches would win.
Whatever. Each year we go through these arguments. Groups oppose manger scenes on public property. Clergy complain about the commercialization of Christmas. Schools rid the halls of Christmas carols and religious symbols even while promoting “seasonal” pageants. Why? What’s the point if it isn’t about Christmas?
In the end, however, it boils down to what each one of us does. If a manger scene is important to you, put one in your yard, or balcony. Or, place a Christian symbol on your clothing, or your car. Same thing for a Cross. Display it personally. Don’t force the government to do it. Yes, this country had a religious or at least a “belief” basis at its founding. Think “Creator” as the basis of all individual rights. Then think how government can mess that up.
I don’t want to scour our government of all religious notes and I don’t want to eliminate Christmas as a national holiday. On the other hand, let the hand of government have only the lightest touch on our religions. Do we really want government involved in our religions?
So, enjoy your Christmas holiday and do it your way. Merry Christmas to you all.