There is Nothing Wrong with ‘Xmas’

I remember when I was a child how offended my mother would get when she saw the word ‘Xmas’ on a commercial or at a store.  She would really become angry saying, “There they go again trying to take Christ out of Christmas.”  On some level, I can understand her unhappiness.  Today, with the ACLU and the court system actually trying to remove any reference to Christmas, it is understandable that Christians would be on the defensive.  Almost daily we are faced with stories about long-time traditional festivals that are replacing the word “Christmas” with “Holiday” or “Festival.”  Seinfeld sublimely underscored many of these attitudes with the famous “Festivus for the Rest of Us” episode.

However, Christians who become offended at the word Xmas, simply have not studied what the word actually connotes.  In early Christianty, the X was actually a Greek letter pronounced “Chi” or “Kai.”  It was the first letter in the Greek word for Christ.

Due to persecution, early Christians would use the X as a symbol meaning Christ and denoting themselves as Christians.  The familiar Fish symbol seen on many cars goes back to this tradition.  The symbols that look like IXOYE (pronounced ‘ixthus’ or ‘icthus’), are really a Greek acronym denoting: Jesus, Christ, of God, Son, Savior.  The Greek word is actually an acrostic that spells out ‘fish.’

So, you see, when you spell Christmas with an ‘X,’ you are just paying homage to 2000 years of Christian tradition.  You can even use it as a tool to teach others when you hear them asking, “Why is Christmas spelled with an “X”?

Advertisements

Some Proposed Rules Regarding Christmas Etiquette

It has been obvious for the past few years that Christmas has gotten out of hand.  Now it is apparent, too much of a good thing is indeed too much.  As a result, I have proposed a few rules to help people navigate the Christmas season with some sense of decorum.

I do not need to start seeing Christmas items and sections in stores before Halloween.  I swear, I saw some stores with Christmas sections in August this year, and I’m not kidding.  We already have way too many stores doing ‘Christmas in July’ sales.  Pretty soon it will indeed be Christmas all year around.

Rule: Christmas sales and sections should be limited to the day after Halloween (preferably the day after Thanksgiving) through the weekend after New Years Day (for After-Christmas sales).

Christmas decorations are also way out of hand.  There is no need to cover every inch of your lawn and house with Christmas decorations and lights.  Trying to limit yourself to one giant ugly blow-up Christmas item would be preferable.  Also, I see lights going up sometimes before Halloween and staying up as late as March or April.

Rule:  If you think to yourself, I wonder if it would be too much if we…?  It is too much.  Stop it!

Rule: Do not put up any Christmas decorations until the day after Thanksgiving, and take them down by the week after New Year’s Day

Finally, Christmas music played on the radio and in stores is way out of hand.  Some retail outlets and radio stations go to an “All Christmas” format the day after Halloween.  There is no need for this.  One awful result of this is that these stations find any (and I mean ANY) Christmas music, and put it in their playlist.  Unfortunately, every recording artist feels the need to make at least one Christmas album, no matter how bad it might be.  These stations tend to force these horrible songs on their audience because they do not want to play the same music all of the time.

Rule:  Christmas music should not be played before the day after Thanksgiving (and it would be better to wait two more weeks), and should be stopped the day after Christmas.

Rule:  Only play the Christmas standards or legitimate attempts to perform nice Christmas music (so my head will stop exploding).

 

 

 

 

The Santa Claus Conundrum (Or, Christian Attitudes Toward Santa Claus

Many Christians understandably get confused when they are forced to deal with Santa Claus.  If we include getting presents from Santa Claus in our observance Christmas of the Christmas holiday, are we in essence lying to our children?  How can we observe a holiday based on the birth of Christ, and incorporate a lie in the observance?  Does paying so much attention to Santa Claus take away from Christ?

Well, I don’t really think it is all that complicated.  I know several Christians who simply ‘do not do’ Santa Claus.  I think this is a shame.  I encourage my child to have a good imagination, and I think watching her pretend is a great thing, and a source of entertainment for me as well as her.  Santa Claus teaches children about giving and that being good is often rewarded (and being bad is punished).  These are excellent life lessons for a small child.

The problem seems to revolve mostly around lying to our children.  I personally do not have any problems helping my child keep up the Santa Claus façade.  As long as she wants to believe in him, I will encourage her to do so.  However, I know the day will come when she will ask me straight-up if he is real, and I will tell her the truth.  I will also remind her how much she has enjoyed pretending that there is a Santa Claus, and how she should not ruin the same feeling for other kids who still believe he is real.

I feel sorry for the parents that do not let their children believe in Santa Claus, and likewise, I feel sorry for their children who miss out on part of their childhood.  They are robbing their kids of the chance to take part in a great Western tradition, and much of the wonder that comes with being a child at Christmas.  Often, these children grow up and become embittered by the fact that they did not get to participate in the fun that their friends had.  These are not good feelings for a teenager who is facing other temptations such as sex and drugs from their friends.  I do not want my child left with the feeling that, “Maybe, my parents just don’t want me to have fun.”

On the other hand, I once knew a girl (a twenty something) who said that because her parents lied to her about Santa Claus, she could not trust them.  I have to say that this was one of the most offensive examples of an ingrate that I have ever seen.  So, the fact that her parents got her all of those gifts, and tried so hard to give her a fun childhood meant nothing to her.  In the end, I think she was just looking for a reason to blame her parents for all of her problems, which she did.

The question about whether Santa Claus detracts from Christ at Christmas is a touchier subject.  It is true that Santa Claus is a big part of the secularization of Christmas, but that just means that Christian parents have to do their job, and make sure that their children do know ‘the reason for the season.’

About twenty years ago, Amy Grant’s music was becoming so popular that it was crossing over from the Christian music stations to the pop music stations.  At the time, Christian stations found themselves in a conundrum.  Her music could be interpreted to be either about God, or maybe a friend or boyfriend depending on how you applied the lyrics.  As a result, many Christian music stations found the need to determine if they were still going to play her music or not.  In the end, most played the music because they correctly argued that having young people listen to the music might actually draw them to Christianity.  The same argument works for Santa Claus.  If you prefer, think of Santa Claus as a gateway drug that draws the world to ask, “Why are we celebrating this holiday, anyway?”  As Bart Simpson once said, “Christmas is the time of year when people of all religions come together to worship Christ.”

It is also helpful to remember that the Santa Claus legend is based on Saint Nicholas of Myra who was by all accounts a Christian that anyone would do well to emulate in his life.

Top 10 Live-Action Christmas Movies

I decided that I would put together a list of great Christmas movies, but I quickly realized that I have some serious deficiencies in my knowledge of Christmas movies.  So, I decided to make a list of my top 10 favorite Christmas movies.  I did not include animated films or specials except for The Polar Express (which did not make my top 10 anyway).  After the top ten, I included a list of other Christmas movies that I have seen (most of which I actually like), and finally I included a list of Christmas movies that I have not seen, but probably should see.  This Christmas season, I will make an effort to see several of the movies that I have somehow missed in my life, and see if they deserve to crack the top 10.

10. Muppet Family Christmas- The Muppets just seem to go with Christmas.

9. The Nativity Story- This movie makes it because it is important to remember the reason for the season, and it was not a bad attempt to tell the story.

8. National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation- Perhaps the most underrated of the live action Christmas movies with the most enjoyable appearance by the Griswold family since the original.  I really enjoyed it.

7. Elf- Underrated as a Christmas movie and a Wil Farrell film, this is a very enjoyable Christmas tale.

6. The Grinch- This film could easily have been a disappointment.  It would have been hard to improve upon the original animated version of the Dr. Suess classic.  However, Jim Carey is great as the Grinch, and he carries the film very well.

5. White Christmas- This deserves to be in the top 10 if only for the title song which is the best Christmas song of all time even though it is not the first time it was sung on film.

4. Miracle on 34th Street- A nice Christmas classic about believing in Santa Claus.  Greatness.

3. A Christmas Carol- There are a host of versions of the great Dickens tale out there, and most of them are very good.  The story keeps it at the top of my list.

2. A Christmas Story- Honestly, I enjoy watching this film more than any on the list.  I watch it every year a couple of times on TNT, and it is one of my favorite comedies regardless of the fact that it is a Holiday movie.  I have most of the dialogue memorized.

1. It’s a Wonderful Life- To have put A Christmas Story above this movie would have just been wrong.  This movie has become an American icon of the Christmas season, and it deserves to hold the top spot.

 

The movies below are other Christmas films that I have seen, and may have enjoyed.  The ones toward the bottom I liked less.

The Polar Express

Scrooge

Scrooged

The Muppet Christmas Carol

The Sound of Music

Ernest Saves Christmas

Bad Santa

The Santa Claus

Santa Clause 2

Babes in Toyland

The Christmas Shoes

Home Alone

Jingle All the Way

The Ref

Very Brady Christmas 

Christmas with the Kranks

Jack Frost

 

The following is a list of films that I have not seen but probably need to see (except for Black Christmas).

Holiday Inn

Preacher’s Wife

The Man Who Came to Dinner

Christmas in Connecticut

Black Christmas

Mary Christmas

Christmas Comes to Willow Creek

Home for the Holidays

A Holiday to Remember

The Bells of St. Mary’s

I’ll Be Home for Christmas

The Bishop’s Wife

The Christmas Box

Meet Me in St. Louis

Surviving Christmas

The Man Who Saved Christmas