Like pollen in April, it’s omnipresent in the weeks leading up to Jesus’ birthday. Like aging, it’s unavoidable.
This week, I went looking for it. The rumble was ready. As a Christian raised in the Methodist church, Christmas, to put it bluntly, wields immeasurable value to me, though the holiday’s commercialism riles me to no end. (Just ask my kids.) My suggestion to eschew Christmas presents and instead use that money to buy groceries for the needy has been met with deaf grade-school ears.
Nevertheless, if backed into a corner because of my faith, I suspect I’d defend myself in an appropriate manner.
For a one-time Christmas-commercialism Scrooge, my house is now full-on Clark Griswold: Lights on the roof, lights on the railing leading to the front door, oversized candy canes adorning the front steps. Even the front door knob is decorated. We used to have an electric polar bear whose head would swivel and an inflatable Santa Claus the size of a miniature blimp, but they died.
No one’s told me to take the stuff down.
Inside our home, there are three Christmas trees — one in the living room and smaller ones in the kids’ rooms. The windows on the street-side of the house are lit with electric candles that are iPhone smart: they turn on at dusk, they turn off at dawn. I doubt anyone would bother telling us it’s not appropriate.
A dachshund and tabby live in our house. Each is rocking a Christmas-themed collar.
They must have the spirit, too, because they haven’t chewed them to shreds.
Here at The Star, there’s a Christmas tree in the newsroom. Only a fool would allow me to decorate anything, but I did help set the tree up earlier this week. It’s a secular office — I’ve taken no inventory of my coworkers’ beliefs — yet no one stopped me from bringing the tree inside.
If someone objects, I’ll listen.
All around Calhoun County, I’ve seen images of Christmas cheer.
The large Christmas tree erected atop the Watermark Tower.
Quintard Avenue’s historic lights.
The countless number of cars adorned with those quirky reindeer antler contraptions that affix to car windows.
Red-and-green Christmas decorations on offices at McClellan.
The visual overload of Christmas signage at the Quintard Mall.
And that says nothing of the Christmas-themed decorations and signs at the county’s houses of worship. Or the Christmas Muzak piped into stores. Or the Christmas parades.
Like it or not, celebrate it or not, whether you’re Protestant or Catholic or Jewish or Muslim or something else, Christmas is everywhere.
It took me until Thursday morning to find a tangible hint of the War on Christmas so many feel is the Stalingrad of our time. In my inbox was an offer from an online store I frequent. I clicked it open.
No anger spewed. No offense was taken. No fiery response was fired off to the company’s CEO.
It was an email, a polite greeting, not a hot poker in the eye.
Whatever you think of that company’s policy — you may think it shamelessly, and embarrassingly, politically correct — it didn’t lessen my faith. It caused no swell of emotion. If that retailer feels it needs to recognize the fact that some of its customers don’t celebrate the Christian Christmas, then more power to it.
That’s their business — just as it is for Jews or non-believers or anyone else who doesn’t recognize Christmas as the celebration of Christ’s birth.
My beliefs, whatever they are, are mine.
How I honor them is up to me.
Sure, I know a growing number of Americans say they’re non-religious. I’ve read the Census data. And it’s clear that many Americans outspoken in their Christian beliefs feel the nation needs to reset its values, that a non-religious populace is a populace in decline.
Perhaps, though I’ll leave that dilemma to those smarter than I.
In the meantime, it’s Christmas at my house. It’s all lit up, festive, and in the spirit.
If someone tells me, “Happy Holidays!,” I’ll likely shake their hand and greet them in my appropriate Christmas cheer. I doubt they’ll mind.
Phillip Tutor — firstname.lastname@example.org — is The Star’s commentary editor. Follow him at Twitter.com/PTutor_Star.