Wednesday, November 30, 2011

The war against Christmas has ended. Jesus lost.

This just in…the war against Christmas has ended. The meaning of Christmas has lost! I’m not talking about the phony war contrived by the entertainers at FOX News who want you to believe the war was a battle over whether the store clerks said “Happy Holidays” or “Merry Christmas.”

The real war has long been fought between the forces of materialism and the dwindling effort to focus on the birth of Jesus. That war has ended. The American people surrendered on Black Friday.

Any hope for acknowledging “the reason for the season” went up in dollar bills when retailers announced this year’s Black Friday set a record for retail sales. A nation of voters unwilling to spend money to house the homeless, feed the hungry, and educate the young, shoppers used credit cards on the day after giving thanks to buy up record amounts of stuff.

This war on Christmas succeeded because Americans not only gave in to abject materialism but did so while joyously participating in a sort of shoppers’ “gladiator” event while winking one eye and crossing their fingers as they objected when the clerk wished them “happy holiday” instead of “Merry Christmas.” In the end, most could simply not resist combining violence with shopping.

Under the terms of the surrender, Christians agreed to ignore the images of fights in store aisles over bargain priced video games, of an old man lying on the floor as shoppers ignored his pleas for help to get to the sale items first, of one woman pepper spraying others while taking items from their shopping carts and a dead clerk trampled by on-rushing shoppers.

Who contributed most to the victory of materialism over Christmas? Was it those who never darken the door of a church to celebrate the birth of Christ, up in the middle of the night, standing in line in front of a store owned by corporate conglomerates intent on driving small local businesses out?  Or…was it those who do go to church who were in that same line?

Regardless, all were willing to ignore the collateral damage. In their frenzy these shopping warriors gave little thought to workers whose lives are disrupted by being required to leave their families on Thanksgiving evening to go to work to stock the shelves and operate the cash registers.

Aimee Bender has written a book entitled The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake. Its main character has a special gift. As she eats, she senses the emotions of the person who prepared the meal, e.g. joy, sadness, loneliness or stress. The war against Christmas might have had a different outcome if only we had that gift. Imagine if those who shopped at midnight on Black Friday could have felt the particular emotions of the clerks.

What would you have felt? What would you have learned about their lives? Undoubtedly you’d have sensed the strain your need to shop put on them. Many are working more than one of these low paying jobs with few or no benefits. They had no choice but to leave their families on Thanksgiving to go to work.

As customers bought stuff they didn’t need with money they didn’t have, shoppers would have felt what workers were feeling... the sadness and worry of leaving young children in the middle of the night. Perhaps they’d have felt the particular guilt accompanied by the worry over a sick child left at home because the worker can’t miss that shift without losing a day’s pay and maybe even the job.

But, to the victor go the spoils. The “meaning of Christmas” lost the war. Empathy for the workers and their families is just one of the casualties.  Materialism has won out and it has no use for a conscience.

Still…doesn’t it seem odd to you that we would still continue to skirmish over whether that same clerk wishes you a “happy holiday” instead of a “Merry Christmas?”

Happy holidays everyone!

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