Editor’s Note: Each weekday of Christmas, the Raven is delivering a favorite holiday article.
On the second day of Christmas, the Raven gave to me… The Real War on Christmas (Originally Published December 26, 2013) and A Santa Claus Monstrosity!
Now that December 25th is over, the real war on Christmas can begin.
Because, you see, that other “War on Christmas” that begins in late November and ends on December 25th is a manufactured war. That war is fabricated by a television network that, despite the Bible’s repeated message at the birth of Christ to “not be afraid,” wants Christians to live in fear of some secular agenda to destroy Christmas. After all, there’s nothing like fear and a manufactured war to raise television ratings.
That’s a manufactured war because, as Diana Butler Bass has brilliantly pointed out, the season from late November to December 24 isn’t Christmas. It’s Advent. If anyone were waging a war on a Christian season during the early part of December, it wouldn’t be on Christmas. It would be on Advent.
The real war on Christmas begins on December 26th, but no major television network will tell you about it. The real Christmas season, known as Christmastide, begins on the evening of December 24 and lasts 12 days, ending on January 5th.
So the real war on Christmas begins on December 26th and it is waged in the most pernicious way possible: By ignoring the Christmas season altogether. Ignoring something is the best way to wage a war because nobody knows the war is being waged! And if nobody knows the war is being waged then there can be no defense against it. After we gorged on Christmas Day presents, cookies, turkey, and pie, we will take down our trees, put away our decorations, and stop wishing one another a merry Christmas.
And we will be completely unaware that we are participating in the real war on Christmas.
Here’s the thing: God doesn’t really care that we’ve taken down our trees and put away our decorations. God doesn’t even care if we don’t wish one another a merry Christmas from December 26th to January 5th. Although, if you want to be hard-core and get some strange looks from the “evil secularists,” by all means keep wishing people a merry Christmas.
But the best way to defend against the real war on Christmas is not to become offended and raise our voices against the “secularists’ agenda.” No, the best way to defend Christmas is to care about the things that Jesus cared about:
The blind receiving sight.
The lame beginning to walk.
The deaf beginning to hear.
The dead being raised to life.
The poor having good news brought to them.
Christmas is about Christ being born in us, not just on December 25th, but on every day of our lives. Athanasius said in the fourth century that in Jesus God “was made man that we might be made God.” What does that mean? It’s the mystery of theosis, or divinization. The best explanation that I’ve seen comes from Teresa of Avila. Her words provide the best response to any war, manufactured or otherwise: “Christ has no body but yours. No hands, no feet on earth but yours. Yours are the eyes with which he looks compassion on this world. Yours are the feet with which he walks to do good. Yours are the hands with which he blesses all the world. Yours are the hands. Yours are the feet. Yours are the eyes. You are his body. Christ has no body now but yours. No hands, no feet on earth but yours. Yours are the eyes with which he looks compassion on this world. Christ has no body now on earth but yours.”