last update 1:44 am
December 9, 2011
There Will Be Snacks: It could be a whole lot worse.
by Matthew Gerring Nov 28, 2011 5:12 pm
So it looks like most of us survived Black Friday. The dust has settled, blood has been mopped from the aisles and credit card numbers have sailed on insecure connections over the treacherous waters of the Internet on yesterday’s “Cyber Monday”, and we are now firmly in what we call the “Holiday Season” these days.
Speaking of traditions of dubious merit, the War on Christmas is back, along with the weird phenomenon of NORAD running a “Santa Tracker” on its website, both adding dashes of creepy militarism to an otherwise joyous holiday.
According to a blog post on the Fox Nation blog, not only is the War On Christmas still happening, “we” are winning! Questions of who constitutes “we” and what, exactly, “we” won are left as an exercise for the reader.
I haven’t picked a side in this war, but I find it fascinating. For the moment, let’s put aside the fact that there are several gift-giving holidays from multiple faith traditions that take place between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day. Let’s also just forget that whether Jesus’ actual birthday was on Dec. 25 is a matter of some dispute. Let’s assume, for the sake of argument, that Christmas is the only holiday to celebrate in December, and that retailers are unfairly “secularizing” it.
So much “War on Christmas” rhetoric focuses on what retail workers say to customers — that is, whether it’s “Happy Holidays” or “Merry Christmas” — but what would happen if the machinery of commerce fully embraced the religious origins of Christmas? What other consequences would come with that?
Imagine the advertising bonanza it would create! The Bible is rich with stories and metaphors, ready to be exploited in the service of commerce — the possibilities are endless.
“A sale fit for the King of Kings! Free two-day Super Savior shipping!” the ads would say, or better yet, “Shop at Walmart, your price savior!”
I see nativity scene mannequins sporting cable-knit sweaters, performance fleece and cute graphic onesies. In the aisles, sales associates would flit about, spraying people with Frankincense, by Paris Hilton.
And think of the TV commercials!
Joseph and the Virgin Mary are frantically searching Bethlehem for a place to sleep, and everyone is turning them down. Sheep and goats are wandering around the streets for effect. They finally find their room in the manger, but Mary is obviously displeased.
She gives Joseph one of those emasculating stares that women are only capable of in advertising — one that says “Can’t you provide for me? What is wrong with you?” — so Joseph reaches into his cloak and pulls out his smartphone, miraculously finding a four-star hotel just a few blocks away.
Samsung smartphones, it would say, with Google, where the “Os” are halos, or perhaps crowns of thorns, two for one for this Christmas season.
The Three Wise Men are huddling around a fire in the desert, and they see a brilliant light glowing in the distance. They journey toward it for many days and finally arrive at an idyllic shack in the snow. Inside is a Sony flat-screen plasma TV with the baby Jesus sitting in front of it, watching Baby Einstein (or maybe Baby Solomon?) videos, only $8.99 on clearance because they were proven to be totally useless.
And then later, on an infomercial in the wee hours of the morning: Joseph and Mary, hard up for cash, look at Jesus — adorned with the Wise Men’s gifts — and suddenly an angel with the likeness of Ron Paul appears, shouting, “Sell Your Gold!”
Instead of bleak news reports warning Americans of the collapse of the economy if they don’t shop to keep retailers in the black, anchors might deliver news of a message from Creflo Dollar of Creflo Dollar Ministries, preacher of the Prosperity Gospel, warning people to shop and spend lavishly or else face eternal damnation.
Would people still die every year in the pandemonium created by “doorbuster” sales? Would people still take the opportunity to gift themselves first? Would anything else really change other than the decoration retailers put on this bizarre and terrifying ritual?
I invite those of you who take offense at being told “Happy Holidays” to consider — do you really want to put the face of Jesus on this mess?
As long as retailers still prefer “Happy Holidays” to “Merry Christmas,” the religious traditions of Christmas get to remain totally — and appropriately — separate from this country’s annual retail orgy. For the sake of Christianity and good taste, let’s please keep it that way.
One thought on “There Will Be Snacks: It could be a whole lot worse.”
Ted Rudow III, MA on December 12, 2011
Back in A. D. 274 an emperor of the old Roman world chose December 25 as “the birthday of the unconquered sun.” He recognised that at this midwinter date it reaches its lowest point in the Southern sky and begins its gradual movement Northward again. The annual rebirth of nature was closely linked to the Roman new year and planting season. Houses were decorated with greenery and candles, and presents were given to children and the poor. In time, Christians made this a holy day of their own. By A.D. 336, the church had decided that all believers should celebrate the birthday of the Lord Jesus, the Son of righteousness on December 25.
Reflect upon your present blessings, of which every man has plenty; not on your past misfortunes, of which all men have some.
Ted Rudow III, MA
Class of 1996