Christmas: a time to remember the Nativity and celebrate our traditions.

Let’s start with a bit of (kind of serious) humor, shall we?

Brad Stine: “I remember when people said things like, ‘Merry Christmas’ to each other. EVERYBODY said, ‘Merry Christmas! Hey, Merry Christmas to you, Mr. Lohenstein. Do you know why? Because it wasn’t about a religion, it was about something as a culture that we thought was so valuable, even if I disagreed with the religion behind it, because it was good for ALL of us instead of just me.

But what do people say now? ‘Happy Holidays.’ ‘See, I just say, “Happy Holidays,” because I don’t want to say, “Merry Christmas,” because you don’t believe in Christmas, and I don’t want to offend you, and…*chipmunk noises*'”

Oh, yes, we want to say, ‘Happy Holidays’ because we don’t leave anybody out. Really? How come there’s a ton of holidays in February – nobody says, ‘Happy Holidays’ in February, do they? They say what it is, ‘Happy Valentines’ – OOOO, do you believe in love?

But nobody wants to say, ‘Christmas’! Everything else but ‘Christmas’. Why? I know why. You do, too. It’s because it’s got ‘Christ’ in it, and after 2,000 years He’s still intimidating people. You see, when a religious person says, ‘I am the way,’ people don’t want to hear it. They don’t!

I say you gotta say, ‘Merry Christmas’ because it IS! If you don’t believe in it, fine. But I’ve got a flash for you: Christianity happens to be the religious heritage of my country whether you like it or not…

So if you’re not a Christian, or you don’t like it, and you don’t want Christmas celebrated, God bless you! But let me tell you something: if you think you’re gonna stop me from saying it because it offends you, hey, I’ve got a flash for you: PUT A HELMET ON! It’s my country, too!”

Listening to the choir sing We Three Kings, tears welled up in my eyes and began to overflow. I love Christmas, with the colored lights and shiny ornaments and wrapped gifts, the celebrations and get-togethers and baking marathons, but one of my most favorite parts of Christmas is the music.

Christmas music has always been a tie that binds our people together; nearly everyone knows the lyrics to the traditional carols and songs and can sing them with a bit of nostalgia. I love that sense of shared tradition and culture and was reminded of it this past Monday when our family attended Holiday Nights at Greenfield Village, as a large group of strangers squeezed together in a horse drawn wagon and sang Have a Holly Jolly Christmas and Jingle Bells; later everyone assembled outside the town hall where a small choir led us all in Silent Night, Angels We Have Heard on High, The First Noel, and Joy to the World while fireworks exploded overhead.

My husband and I were just discussing how when we were children, our schools always put on an annual Christmas concert – not a “holiday” concert, mind you, but a Christmas concert. Phil told me that every grade in his school in Dearborn tried to sing their best on The Little Drummer Boy because his principal had once told them that it was his favorite Christmas song. When I was in high school, our ambitious choir director taught us to sing The Hallelujah Chorus and we performed it at Holy Family Catholic Church because our school had no auditorium. The church was lit with candles and filled with wreaths and poinsettias and looked simply magical and mystical, as a church should.

Even if they don’t perform in churches, we have lost something of value in our culture by allowing atheists and Muslim immigrants to say that we cannot have school children learn and sing the traditional Christmas songs. No one is forced to believe or accept anything and could simply view the songs as interesting historical and cultural artifacts if they don’t like the Christian themes in them.  Rather than enriching us, “diversity” in this way has made us poorer, robbing us of our traditions and culture and turning Christmas into nothing but mindless consumerism and glitz, devoid of our shared cultural heritage.

I don’t oppose gift-giving and Christmas glitziness – in fact I rather enjoy those parts of Christmas – but it is important to realize that those parts are just like icing on a cake. Without the cake, all you have is enjoyable but meaningless fluff that leaves you feeling vaguely unfulfilled. The truly meaningful parts of Christmas that will feed your heart and soul are the celebration of the story of Jesus’ birth (and even if you aren’t a Christian, it is a lovely story, but I must remind you that it is in fact actually a true story) and the celebration of shared cultural and family traditions.

Merry Christmas!

 

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4 thoughts on “Christmas: a time to remember the Nativity and celebrate our traditions.

  1. I don’t think we can lay the blame for this at the door of Muslims or Jews. I think a few very noisy aetheists can own it.
    There is something from the past that bothers me about this time of year. When Ariel Sharon was Prime Minister of Israel, Yassir Arafat served the Palestinians in the same capacity. Arafat’s in laws were Christian and lived in Bethlehem. He always made a point of seeing them for Christmas. That year, Arafat asked for permission and was refused by Sharon.
    I always thought that was taking it too far and making it personal.

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  2. I also enjoy Christmas music. Here, for over 20 years, there’s been an annual “Handel’s Messiah Community Sing-in”. Everyone gathers at the historic Stowe Community Church, one of the most photographed buildings in northern Vermont, and you are directed to sit in a particular section based on your vocal range.

    It’s impromptu, no rehearsals, and most people read their parts from sheet music, but it’s always beautiful.

    There were no holiday songs at our school concerts, but this year there was an ill performed Winter Solstice number that drew quite a few snickers. Usually the concerts are held after the holidays to avoid any controversy.

    Hope you and your family enjoyed your first Christmas living in the country.

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  3. Well hey there, LLB!

    The sing along sounds really fun! I love a good sing along.

    Yes, let us all sing Winter Solstice folk songs as we gather ’round the Kwanzaa tree just like we did when we were children…such happy memories.

    Ha.

    We’ve loved living in the country so far, despite all we’ve had to learn about propane and wells and septic fields and coyotes…

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