OK, how many of you reading this have I offended so far? Sadly, I’m sure there are several. So I ask the question, why? Not why you are offended, but why we say Merry Christmas.
To answer the question, I decided to write my final column of my year-long contract in defense of Christmas in general. But before some of you get up in arms, this piece isn’t about defending a particular religion or even a holiday. This is about defending a state of mind; a state of mind that has been virtually legislated and commercialized out of existence.
Eleven months ago, I wrote my first column about chasing dreams and accomplishing goals, as the Seahawks were on their way to the Superbowl. As I write this now, the Hawks have an aura of renewed vigor, of hope reborn.
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So what does this have to do with Christmas? It has everything to do with the state of mind I am referring to: belief. Not in the existence of or in the power of Christ, but belief in the notion of impossibilities being possible.
I guess you could say, a belief in miracles.
When I and a billion or so other people on the planet tell you “Merry Christmas” during this time of year, we aren’t asking you to convert to Christianity. We aren’t diminishing you or your beliefs if you don’t happen to have a foundation in this religion. We aren’t insulting you, at all.
We are in a way, simply reminding you, ourselves, and all of humankind that with belief, extraordinary things can happen. Whether you associate this belief — this mindset — with the notion of a Virgin Mother, or with the cure of your loved-one’s cancer, or with getting yourself back on your financial feet, it is completely up to you.
Christmas is about encouragement and optimism. It’s about sharing well wishes and good deeds. It’s about reaching out to those who we may have neglected throughout the year. It’s about reconnecting with the fellow human, and not just with the fellow Christian or American, or black or white.
It’s about that nebulous concept of spirit; that unseen force that knows no physical limitations and allows you to believe in miracles if you wish.
Ironically, the holiday of Christmas is filled with materialism and greed, and the meaning of Christmas is all but lost. It’s not a new problem, just one that keeps getting worse. Corporate profit and bottom lines force the negative aspects of the holiday down our throats before Halloween even gets here.
Our government, despite having its foundations in Christianity, is more and more restricting the freedom to publicly acknowledge the positives of this day. We are asked to max our credit cards and deplete our savings for the sake of the season, while political correctness works to stifle its real meaning. The state mandates that “Happy Holidays” is acceptable, and “Merry Christmas” is not.
I don’t and won’t suggest the archaic notion of “when in Rome, do as the Romans do.” If you don’t want to celebrate Christmas for whatever reason, don’t. It’s a free country that by design will allow you to do that.
But the same respect must be reciprocated. Just because a Christian-American may not be a numerical minority doesn’t mean this group deserves less respect, or that it should be embarrassed by expressing a genuinely well-intended offering.
Wish me a Happy Hanukah if you will, and I promise I won’t get offended. And if I want to wish you a Merry Christmas, and you’re an atheist or Jewish or Buddhist, you really have no reason to be offended, either.
These little communicative devices called words carry a lot of weight. When I offer you a Merry Christmas, I’m really just saying, brother and sister, believe that anything is possible, that life can get better for you in any way you wish, that we share a common spirit regardless of religious adherence or political affiliation or skin color.
These words simply mean that with the old-fashioned concept of love, you and I can set aside our differences, if only for a season, and bask in the glow of belief in the miracles of kindness, goodness and respect.
Merry Christmas, my friends.