What War on Christmas?

28/12/2019

As with a lot of major holidays and events (Australia Day, ANZAC Day, Easter, Christmas, etc.) there is an annual outrage that repeats itself without any resolution whatsoever, whether one exists or not. This month, depending on which part of the internet you dwell in, you probably saw a lot of shouting over the “war on Christmas” that is being waged relentlessly. The most obvious culprits for this festive finality is the ill-defined “left”, or the “inner city”, whatever that refers to. As someone who lives close (-ish) to Brisbane and falls into this so-called “left”, I suppose, I can only blankly say a single word: What?

Of all the things to do during Christmas, if it is a day that has legitimate meaning for you, getting angry about what people you’ve never met before think seems like the most moronic and self-defeating way to ruin your own Christmas. Even worse, to do so blindly without any actual sense of what others think of the day and its surrounding furore only serves to prove you are definitely a moron.

A single trip into Brisbane and its surrounds, or talking to most people there, would show you that Christmas is more alive than ever in major cities – I am assuming Sydney, Melbourne, etc. are the same, if not even more maddeningly eventful. Some public transport had decorations, including a bus that was full of colourful tinsel; stores and public places had their own decorations and displays set up, including nativity scenes; Christmas songs were blaring; “Merry Christmas” has been so many times you’d never guess it was Christmas this month.

I had friends and family planning holidays and trips, others going to church. Presents were being bought, trees and lights were being showcased on social media. With so much festive stuff happening everywhere you looked, how could anyone possibly believe that there was a “war of Christmas”? Easy, really. The news and/or pages they follow told them there was.

Now, there does need to be some clarification over a few of the accusations. I’m aware of a fair few of them, but I’m sure there are many more out there with equally ludicrous or misconstrued logic. The first is that we are removing the word “Christmas”, replacing with that damned “happy holidays” bullshit because it offends people otherwise. So says the one screaming over a couple of words being used in place of their couple of words.

“Happy holidays” is a phrase used by many people as a more inclusive one for those who either don’t celebrate Christmas or aren’t comfortable with it. Not everyone has to like Christmas, nor do they have to celebrate it. Some may even have other beliefs and don’t agree with the idea of Christmas as a religious holiday. All of them may, however, still enjoy the festive side, or just the family and atmosphere of it. Saying happy holidays instead of merry Christmas is not a crime, it allows more people to feel as though they can be involved.

I recall enjoying the comments under a post by Greens Senator Nick McKim last year in which he said those two naughty words. So many people got angry at him, accusing him of destroying Christmas. His response was to say “Merry Christmas” to every single one of them. Because he wasn’t against Christmas at all – he was simply being inclusive, and was more than happy to use the words he was accused of detesting. Manufactured outrage.

There are also people who don’t like Christmas at all, though, including a close friend of mine. She buys gifts and grudgingly deals with family occasions, but she hates it. That is an entirely valid opinion and stance to have, for a number of reasons.

  • It’s a financial strain
  • It’s a stressful time of year
  • Family is not always fun (my friend’s family lectures her for not liking Christmas, on top of the usual unpleasantness she oft times deals with)
  • Having absolutely no interest in the religious side
  • Social anxieties, or simply not liking big festivities
  • The tediousness and utter stupidity of people outside, particularly driving or at the shops, during the month
  • Etc.

I am sympathetic to those who dislike Christmas for any of those reasons, and even agree with some – damn people are idiots in December!

But that isn’t a war on Christmas either. My friend hates it, and so long as people don’t force her to do anything she doesn’t want or make her feel bad for not liking it – which she has no luck avoiding, sadly – then she doesn’t care what others do about it. Her and I buy gifts for each other, usually books, usually in advance because we don’t see each other too often. I say “Merry Christmas” to her once on the day and leaver her to it – she enjoyed a Christmas in solitude this year, as her family was all away.

The other side is the small uproar from religious folk who decry the removal of Jesus and other Christian connotations from the day. Sadly, I doubt many of them who take the time to get mad about that would blame capitalism. That’s what I blame for Christmas being mildly enjoyable and immensely tedious. Mindless consumption and skyrocketing profits follow marketing campaigns that are scarily invasive online, until we’ve all had our fill and time moves on – but not before Boxing Day sales and New Year hype.

A mix between religion’s dwindling influence and the hyper-capitalist butchering of special occasions is the main driver behind transitioning Christmas from a religious event to more inclusive, widely accessible one. That’s not killing Christmas, that’s just the evolution of it over time. Religion isn’t quite the goldmine it used to be.

There is no war on Christmas. Sure, there are probably a few disgruntled people who actively try to shut down Christmas, how they’d do that I don’t know, but the majority of people celebrate it for a number of reasons, and others just view it apathetically. Christmas this year passed like every other Christmas I remember, and my inner-city-ish, “left-leaning” existence has not driven me to crash down every Christmas decoration I see – yet. Maybe if I still worked in hospitality and heard those songs again…

 

Liked this? Read my Christmas themed piece from last year: Working On Christmas?

Previous piece: Media Hasn’t Really Changed: Colonial Tasmania

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