It's that time of year again; the battle for dominance of the holiday season. Unless you're in Japan, where December is a month for hilarious mash-ups of Christian and secular themes (sorry, Judaism, they're still working on realizing not all Westerners are still Christian where I live), where Santa Claus holds Baby Jesus on a white fiberglass tree surrounded by Hello Kitty carolers, you know what I'm talking about.
"Put Christ back in CHRISTmas." "This season, celebrate reason". "Happy non-denominational winter festival."
Simply greeting people on the street becomes an agony — "If I say Merry Christmas, will they be offended and accuse me of bigotry? If I say Happy Holidays, will they throw something in my face and declare me a heathen?" — so we tend to avoid the greetings altogether, rather than get screamed at. It dulls the glow we're supposed to feel this season, and makes us cranky and annoyed. Some Christians fly in the face of anyone who uses a generic holiday greeting and call them children of Satan; some atheists will vandalize manger displays with "THIS IS A LIE" signs.
So, as a suggestion, I propose we all listen to the words of Ebenezer Scrooge.
No, really. Hear me out. I'm not talking about the "Bah! Humbug" or the rest of his Grinch-like attitude. In fact, if act one Scrooge heard me use his phrase in this context, he would most likely fix me with an irritated stare. And yet, here it is:
"Keep Christmas in your way, and let me keep it in mine."
It's that simple. If you celebrate Christmas in an entirely secular way, stop rolling your eyes when someone mentions the birth of Jesus, and please refrain from launching into long diatribes about the pagan origins of the holiday to show those Christians their hypocrisy. If you go to church on Christmas Eve and read the Christmas Story from the book of Luke on Christmas morning, don't shriek if someone says they're buying a "holiday tree", and don't harangue the poor shopkeepers who've been told they'll be fired if they say "Merry Christmas" by insisting they acknowledge Christ before you pay for your purchases.
Keep Christmas in your way, and let me keep it in mine.