This is the first in my ongoing series of Posts on “How to Lose Friends and Alienate Christians”
Cause really, if you want to see Christians turn ugly, criticize Christmas!
Just to clarify, I don’t HATE Christmas, I just hate some things about Christmas.
I actually LOVE Christmas. I love the time I get to spend with my family. I love the traditions, the decorations, the parties, the food, and the lights. I especially love the lights because it starts getting dark about 4:00 just before Christmas. I love all of the corny symbolism of everything from candy canes to pickles. I love the way it unites many of us in believing in miracles. I like 5 of the Christmas movies (It’s A Wonderful Life, Home Alone, A Christmas Story, Frosty the Snowman, The Best Christmas Pageant Ever.)
But here are the top 10 things I hate about Christmas:
10. All the other Christmas movies! I can’t stand the message that if you have faith everything will work out for you. I hate it even more when it is the idea of Christmas that you are supposed to have faith in!
9. Santa Claus since the 80’s. I know we all have magical memories of Santa and the childhood innocence of believing in him. I just think we need to tone it down! Kids don’t need so much stuff. I think your holiday celebration should be focused on enjoying time together and not on getting a lot of stuff.
8. Year end letters. If you are one of those people who puts together a really clever end of the year newsletter, I kind of jealously hate you. LOL. I’m KIDDING. I just never have anything that interesting to say. “I did a lot of laundry. I started dying my hair with henna. We ate more Mexican food than last year cause we got tired of Chinese…”
7. Elf on the Shelf- Cause I’m still traumatized by the ads for this movie! Since 1988, this is what a doll coming to life and doing mischief around the house looks like to me!
6. The expectation to be cheerful for an entire month- Cause really! How fake is that? Guess what? Life doesn’t quit happening just because it’s December! And life always contains some mess and heartache and struggles. I’m allowed to have bad days in December so back off! LOL
Of course, there is a balance between being real and being bitter. I will let you know when I figure out how to maintain that balance!
5. The overemphasis on such a small part of the story of Jesus. Don’t get me wrong, the birth story is crazy-awesome, but it is just the beginning of this amazing story. It reminds me of when I went to see Lord of the Rings Fellowship of the Ring with my brother. He didn’t know it was a trilogy. When the movie ended, he was furious! He stood up and ranted for like 5 minutes. “I can’t believe I sat here and watched all of that build up so they could go look at the path that they are going to go on. What kind of b.s. is this?!…. ” He was not familiar with the Lord of the Rings story so he didn’t know that the first movie was only going to introduce the characters. That’s kind of what we do with Christmas. It’s our most emphasized religious holiday but it’s only the introduction.
There’s a little more truth in this video clip than most of us would like to admit.
4. Inventing needs- We have so much stuff that when the gift buying holiday comes around each year, manufacturers are scrambling to invent new things for us to “need”. Every year, I’m so annoyed at all of the useless stuff that is pushed on us, that I only buy like half of it!
For example: Pocket sized duct tape rolls. Why is that a thing? Every good redneck knows how to fold up a half used roll of duct tape and stick it in their pocket. It this product for all the classy people who feel they need to have duct tape with them at all times?
If you buy this, I will judge you hardcore. I’m not even sure I could be friends with you.
3. Requests for money- I hate Christmas pleas for money from ministries I already support. To be clear, I do not blame any ministry out there for asking for money at the end of the year. They do it, and I would too, because it works. I am annoyed with all of the rest of you for giving more at Christmas. It makes no sense. St. Jude’s serves children year round why do you feel a special need to give them money at Christmas?* Why not decide at Christmas to include them in your budget all year?
2. How inaccurately we present the story. We emphasize the story of Jesus’ birth every year. It feels like no one is actually reading the story from the Bible though. We added characters, made characters show up at the wrong time and made everyone white except sometimes one wise man. Which is so weird. Why would only one of the wise men be black? If it’s our most sacred holiday, which is also weird, why are we not super zealous about making sure we are accurate. We are actually focusing on religious tradition over the actual truth of the story, which is extremely ironic and sad since Jesus directly taught people not to do that. We really are a little more like the Talladega Nights characters than we’d like to admit.
1. Converting people to Christmas-ianity Christmas and Christianity aren’t the same thing. As a matter of fact, a whole lot of Christmas traditions misrepresent Jesus. The Bible never tells us anything about celebrating Jesus’ birth. We aren’t commanded to do it. It’s not even suggested. I included a link below, but we Christ followers don’t need to know the history of the holiday in order to know that we shouldn’t go around being d-bags to other people who don’t share our traditions.
When I lived in Rhode Island, the Governor, Lincoln Chaffee decided that the state needed to call the Christmas trees “holiday” trees. I found this pretty funny and unclever. He should have called them something more Rhode Islandy like “wicked awesome Dunkin trees” and the name change might have stuck.
Some Christians didn’t find it as funny as I did. I was approached by a few irate brethren who wanted me to join them at a protest at the state house. I said no for three reasons: 1. It’s cold in Rhode Island in December. 2. I don’t care what Lincoln Chaffee calls Christmas trees. They aren’t really central to my faith. 3. Protests over stupid stuff like this don’t represent Jesus well at all.
When I declined the invitation to join the protest, my friends were shocked. One said, “But you are so active in politics. You organized that other protest.” At this point, I was no longer amused. I was incredibly angry. “That other” protest was over a loop hole in the Rhode Island law which made prostitution legal and had led to the victimization of countless immigrants in our state. How could what a stupid tree is called even be considered in the same realm of importance as standing for justice for victims?!!! Grrrrr.
Sadly, these arguments over Christmas traditions prove how much people who call themselves Christians have already taken Christ out of Christmas. People who claim to be Jesus followers are ignoring his teachings and example by being more concerned with having a manger scene at our courthouse than loving the people who don’t want it there. We don’t have any desire to understand people who disagree with us, we just want to win the argument. And when that is the focus, defending our traditions keeps us from practicing basic civility which is a far cry from anything resembling the love Jesus taught.
Consider this scripture from Mark 7:
The Pharisees came to Jesus and questioned him about why the disciples didn’t follow all of the ceremonial cleansing rituals before they ate. In verses 6-13, Jesus replied, “Rightly did Isaiah prophesy about you hypocrites, as it is written,
‘These people honor Me with their lips,
But their heart is far from Me.
‘They worship Me in vain [their worship is meaningless and worthless, a pretense],
Teaching the precepts of men as doctrines [giving their traditions equal weight with the Scriptures].’
You disregard and neglect the commandment of God, and cling to the tradition of men.”
He was also saying to them, “You are experts at setting aside and nullifying the commandment of God in order to keep your [man-made] tradition and regulations. For Moses said, ‘Honor your father and your mother’; and, ‘He who speaks evil of his father or mother must be put to death’; but you say, ‘If a man tells his father or mother, “Whatever I have that would help you is Corban,”’; so you nullify the [authority of the] word of God [acting as if it did not apply] because of your tradition which you have handed down. And you do many things such as that.” AMP
In this passage, Jesus is not condemning the tradition, he is condemning putting the tradition above following God. God made it clear that he expected his people to honor their parents. Church tradition allowed people to neglect their parents’ needs in order to give money to the church. If you claim to follow Jesus, it is not OK, no matter how great your tradition is, to defend that tradition above the basic command of loving others. I think right now, atheists and various non-conservatives, would be happy if Christians would just treat them civilly, they’d be shocked if we actually responded to them with love.
Let me conclude with saying: I still love a lot of Christmas traditions and I will continue to celebrate, but I’m not going to defend Christmas. I’m going to love people whatever they choose to do to survive the bleakness of December! Especially if they celebrate Kwanzaa because they have the best food!
Blessings y’all! Thanks for reading and sharing!
Let me know your thoughts!
For more on the origins of Christmas traditions watch this:
*(I mean unless you saw Lecrae’s video I’ll Find You)
I am a really strange mix of a hippie, Calypso, Southern Belle, Madea- wannabe, Christian with the attitude of a Rhode Islander! I’m fascinated with people’s stories, I love to laugh at life with people and I’m genuinely trying to follow Jesus’ teachings. Strangely, my search for truth often has me at odds with American Christians who believe themselves to be the guardians of this truth. I was kicked out of Sunday School as a child for asking too many questions. I learned to repress them but my questions never went away. Thankfully as an adult, I feel completely free to pursue answers. Turns out, God is pretty big and not nearly as upset with my questions as his followers tend to be!
Nothing puts us in the Christmas spirit like music. So I felt like you needed…
We all like to post pictures and stories about quaint holiday traditions and lovely decorations…