Christmas should symbolize our unity

Published 7:37 pm Monday, December 26, 2005

By By Tray Smith
Today, Americans everywhere are joining with their friends and families to celebrate one of our nation's greatest traditions. The time that we spend together will not only be a time of great jubilation, but it will also remind us of the common values of faith, family, and community that we share.
As we celebrate Christmas, we should all let this time symbolize American national unity and American cultural heritage. We should use Christmas as an opportunity to display all that is good about our society, to forget all of the racial and ethnic differences that we have, and to give to those in need, realizing that the greatest gift is the gift of giving.
I am very annoyed by a trend in the nation's media in recent years to try to conger a "War on Christmas." It disturbs me to think that some people would use a time of such harmony and joy to pit Americans against each other. For years, Americans have used Christmas as time to celebrate together as a family, and it greatly disturbs me that this great tradition would be exploited as a political tool.
I simply do not see a "War on Christmas." Instead, I see Americans shopping for presents in the mall, contributing to the Salvation Army outside of stores, decorating their homes, and celebrating together with their friends and family. More than ever before, today I see an America that is coming together to celebrate a great religious holiday.
Therefore, I do not see why it matters if someone tells me "Merry Christmas" or "Happy Holidays." While the greeters at Wal-Mart may tell me "Happy Holidays," their words have no effect on my ability to celebrate my Christian faith on this wonderful day.
Anyone who is dependent on the phrase used by retail stores and media outlets for their Christian heritage should not be celebrating Christmas in the first place. Faith comes from a belief in Christ, not the holiday decorations in the local shopping center.
I will continue to celebrate Christmas, tell people Merry Christmas, and decorate my home with things such as a Christmas tree and a manger scene. But I do not believe, that, at a time of such great happiness, we should not be forced to engage in a political fight that further pits us against one another, over something as trivial as a phrase. I doubt that this is the way Jesus would want us to celebrate his birth, either.
People who claim that there is a "War on Christmas" simply misunderstand the history of this holiday. Christmas was not even a federal holiday in America until 1870, when made so by President Grant. At the time, making Christmas a federal holiday was very controversial. Surprisingly, the opposition came mostly from Christians, who felt that the birth of Christ was being exploited for secular uses.
These Christian opponents cited the Christmas tree as a tool for the secularization of Christmas because it is a pagan symbol with no religious value in the scriptures. Yet today, conservatives are claiming that the secularization of this item which is already secular somehow constitutes a "War on Christmas." The early Christian opponents of Christmas also opposed Santa Claus, because he has too many godly traits and some feel he took God's place.
More than any other time in our history, we have so much for which to thank God. We have 180,000 soldiers defending freedom in Iraq and Afghanistan. We enjoy a prosperity unchallenged in the history of Earth. To my fellow Christians, we continue to enjoy the benefits of the death of our savior. While we have been challenged by terrorism, natural disaster, and war, God has continued to bless us all with so much. Why, then, should we waste our time arguing over the way his son's birth is celebrated, as long as we are celebrating it?
This should be a time to thank God for our many blessings and the gift of his son. We should use this time to celebrate our religious heritage with our family. Our compassionate actions throughout the holidays should serve a model for what our society should be like year around. We should use this time to give to those who have little, just as God gave to us who have nothing without him.
We should participate in these festive activities independent of the actions of other parties. We can still enjoy our faith and celebrate Christmas despite what anyone else does. Christmas should not be another time of war; it should be the one time of the year when we can all live in harmony. So, to those who are claiming there is a "War on Christmas" please, make peace. That is the bottom line.

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