Is there really a war on Christmas?

If you’re like me you have heard a lot about the “War on Christmas.”  The idea relates to the notion that we can’t wish anyone a Merry Christmas without running the risk of offending somebody else in the process.  There are a few problems with the argument, not the least of which is that it is a right-wing media driven construct designed to deflect attention.  More to the point it allows people to notice that there is a real change in how we observe Christmas without ever casting their gaze at the rampant commercialization and conformity that have very much changed the holiday. 

The maxim, it’s the thought that counts, has been replaced by a tally attached to dollar amounts.  The concern that a gift will be judged by its cost as opposed to being appreciated for the consideration it represents is more real than any war on Christmas.

Conformity also makes it difficult to capture the magic of long gone Christmases.   If you recall Cabbage Patch Dolls and the hullaballoo that surrounded them, then you remember the tipping point that saw ‘must have’ gifts become a regular part of Christmas.  This is a media driven phenomenon just like the way that shopping on Black Friday - which stores are desperately trying to establish in Canada – is considered news.  How did we arrive at a point where days are dedicated to shopping for consumer items and that itself is worthy of wall to wall news coverage?

Surely, Christmas has to be the most nostalgic time of the year in Canada, but it is difficult to imagine people looking back fondly to the media-fuelled shopping frenzy that Christmas has become the same way that some recall horse driven sleighs, neighbourhood caroling, or finding and cutting your own Christmas tree.  

Obviously the intent of the season has been taken advantage of.  The spirit of giving has been replaced with the expectation of giving.  If there is a battle to be waged to preserve some parts of Christmas, I’d argue that is the logical place to start.

If we are meant to be focused on giving and not receiving, it might help to give a gift to your community; donations to a food bank, or groups and charities that do good local work are one way to do that.  Even if an individual can’t afford to donate, they might be able to offer up a little of their time for an organisation or charity.   Most are crying out for volunteers and would gladly put people to work with whatever time they can spare.

Let’s put a little bit more than Merry Christmas back into Christmas.  It will go a long way to improving our lives and our communities, and help recreate some of the magic of Christmas past in the process.

I want to wish everyone a very Merry Christmas and all the best in 2014.