Consumerism is the true 'War on Christmas'

By Daniel A. Brown
Posted 12/5/19

After railing on Fox News about the non-existent "War on Thanksgiving," we can expect our Divider-in-Chief to hold forth on Fox News about their other non-existent fantasy, the so-called "War on Christmas."

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Consumerism is the true 'War on Christmas'


After railing on Fox News about the non-existent "War on Thanksgiving," we can expect our Divider-in-Chief to hold forth on Fox News about their other non-existent fantasy, the so-called "War on Christmas."

This conflict was the brainchild of former Fox News pundit, Bill O'Reilly, currently in disgrace for his sexual harassment proclivities. That itself isn't a surprise. I've observed over the years that those who wrap themselves in the cloak of blustering morality usually are anything but moral. Hypocrisy and religion are old roommates.

But O'Reilly gained fame (or notoriety) for his claim that Christmas was under attack by those wicked liberal secularists who chose to say "Happy Holidays" instead of "Merry Christmas" and railed against crèches of the baby Jesus displayed in public places. For O'Reilly, it was a cheap ploy to increase his ratings and make himself the darling of the Christian Right. It wasn't an original idea having its roots in previous anti-Semitic rants from Jew-hater Henry Ford and the psychotic John Birch Society. In their stunted view, the United States was a "Christian" nation which, of course, it isn't. If you doubt that, go read the Constitution.

Frankly, I never knew what this "War on Christmas" fuss was all about. As a Jew, if someone wishes me a "Merry Christmas," I thank them and respond in kind. It's a matter of courtesy, not ideology. As far as the tableauxs of Jesus in the manger, I only chortle with amusement when the Christ Child is portrayed as a blond-haired, blue-eyed Anglo. Jesus was, in fact, a dark-haired, dark-eyed Middle Eastern Jew - like me.

But Christmas as we know it is based on so much borrowing from previous faiths that Christian evangelicals would explode if they were confronted with the truth. Nobody knows exactly when Jesus was born seeing that the family was on the move and back then, census taking was hardly an exact art. December 25 has its roots in the ancient Roman Festival of Saturnalia to honor their deity, Saturn. Christmas trees, wreaths and lights have their beginnings in pre-Christian European pagan cultures. The early Christians incorporated these factors in order to make conversion more palatable. Not that the celebration of Christmas was always a given. In fact, the early New England Puritans forbade any celebration of Christmas as did Oliver Cromwell in England. The Puritans weren't much fun. "If you want to look at a real 'War on Christmas,' you've got to look at the Puritans," says author Stephen Nissenbaum. "They banned it!"

Speaking of this imaginary "War on Christmas," if I had to weight in, I'd say it begins on Black Friday.

I've always despised the crass consumerism of the season and if anything sums it up, it's the image of Americans beating each other up in the aisles of Walmart over some worthless junk they were programmed to need. I literally cannot watch television this time of year because the advertisements are so repulsive. Whatever happened to the spirit of the season, the sacred and the passionate?

Growing up in New York City as a teenager, I would sneak out Christmas Eve and attend Midnight Mass at one of the Catholic churches downtown (my observant Jewish father would have plotzed had he known). In later years, I would do the same with an Episcopalian church in my home town in Massachusetts. Whenever the choir marched in chanting "Come, All Ye Faithful" my heart would soar. As it did when I celebrated Chanukah, the Jewish Festival of Lights, at a house where a hundred menorahs were lit on a huge table to be followed by singing, dancing and, of course, eating. Around the same time, I would drum for a beautiful Solstice celebration hosted by a dear friend who is a Jewish-Wiccan priestess.

To me, it's all about the sacred, which is why I try every year to attend the Christmas Eve celebration at Taos Pueblo, one of the most profound events I've ever been honored to witness. Hopefully, this year, they will build their pyres back to their previous full height.

Admittedly, I do like giving and receiving gifts, but in my home, the most joyous sight is our tree, cut from our own land and Christmas dinner with my family and friends. I shun the malls and the sales, the crowds and the blatant greed. And I suspect that in their heart of hearts, many of my fellow Americans feel the same way.

Daniel A. Brown is a resident of Taos County.


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