The Meh on Christmas

The whole “War on Christmas” inanity the right-wing pundits have been pushing lately is begging for an A Christmas Carol parody treatment. I’ve been meaning to write one, I really have, but in between last week’s finals, the rush to get my SELinux stuff in shape for the final paper deadline, and actually wanting to take a break here and there during break, I haven’t gotten around to doing it.

If you’re looking for something to do, go ahead and run with the idea. Heck, I’ll even get you started with an outline:

Scrooge, obviously, would have originally bought into the whole War nonsense.

Jacob Marley, who delivers the initial warning to Scrooge that he needs to change his ways? Replace him with Jesus, who tells Scrooge he has no idea what Christmas really is.

The Ghost of Christmas Past would show Scrooge the history of Christmas, form the fact that Jesus wasn’t even born in winter, let alone Dec. 25, that the date was chosen to coincide with contemporary winter solstice festivals (which pretty much every human culture seems to have, and which typically center around life enduring through the darkness in one way or another), and that Christmas appropriated lots of its symbolism from these other celebrations. Don’t forget the Pilgrims, after coming to America, banned Christmas celebrations in their colonies!

The Ghost of Christmas Present would show Scrooge how the right-wing pundits are completely missing the point behind Christmas, turning it into just another partisan issue in the permanent election year that the United States is these days. Key points would be O’Reilly’s rants that have nothing to do with the spirit of Christmas (either religious or secular) and Falwell’s “Friend or Foe” campaign. There’s also be a trip to ACLU headquarters, where it’d be revealed that the only nativity-scene-related activity going on there in the past couple years has been to defend a display on private property.

Finally, the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come would show a vision of a dystopian future where the “War on Christmas” is bringing the country to the brink of another civil war. You’d see the ruins of a department store after a terrorist attack done by an extremist group “protesting” the use of the phrase “Happy Holidays” (or, if you want to be really bitter, for not saying “Merry Christmas” loudly and/or often enough), and the pundits simultaneously distancing themselves from the terrorist group and claiming that any authorities trying to stop them are godless heathen atheists trying to oppress Christianity. (Too much? What do you expect from Juvenalian satire?) For bonus points, mention how anyone who says “peace on earth, good will to men” is accused of trying to demoralize our troops.

If you need links to back up any points, a good place to start is the last few weeks’ worth of archives over at Dispatches from the Culture Wars.

Have fun, and happy Festivus!

3 Responses

  1. Granted the “war on Christmas” issue has gotten quite a bit out of hand in the media, I still find fault in some of your arguments. No matter the “source” of the traditions or the “source” of the time of year/date of the event, Christmas is still a holiday that was for the celebration of the birth of Jesus. I seem to be getting the impression that you’re arguing that that isn’t the “true meaning of Christmas.”

    I agree that things have gotten out of hand w/ all the uproar over the “Happy Holidays” and whatnot, but that doesn’t mean that the base reason for the Christian holiday Christmas isn’t still what it was initially. Let me know if I’m reading too much into your post as that is often the case :) And have a Merry Christmas, or Happy Hanukkah, or just an overall enjoyable winter break, and I’ll see you when we get back next semester!

  2. Modern Christmas, in the United States at least, is an amalgam of both religious and secular holidays, and is the de facto winter solstice celebration in our society. Besides the celebration of Jesus’s birth, there’s also the secular aspects of gift giving and Santa Claus, the symbolism of evergreen trees and lights, reuniting with family, declarations of peace on earth, and so on. Not to say that there isn’t overlap between the two sets, but it’s incorrect to say that Christmas is solely a Christian religious holiday.

    Or, to try to summarize that, there’s more than just one true meaning of Christmas.

    All of this makes the so-called “War on Christmas” annoying. The people pushing the idea have some kind of us-versus-them mentality where being wished “Happy Holidays” is somehow interpreted as a personal attack on their faith. The supposed perpetrators of this attack are retail personnel, where “Happy Holidays” or “Seasons Greetings” or “Merry Christmas” or “Happy New Year” or “Have A Nice Day” are all just instances of “insert friendly greeting to say to the customer here.” And what makes this whole thing bizarre is that those pushing the War idea seem to be complaining that there isn’t enough overt commercialization of Christmas. Weren’t they complaining there was too much of it just a few years ago?

  3. Or, if you prefer a more obscenity-laden take.

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