The “War On Christmas” is bogus…except that it’s not.
The trouble with the War On Christmas is that there really is a war. And it really is about Christmas. It’s just not the war we hear about this time of year. It’s not the war being sold on cable television and being highlighted by purveyors of outrage — those who comb and dig for the least little offense attempting to magnify them in the hopes of riling up folks who are otherwise just trying to get on with life.
But there is a war. And it is about Christmas.
You see, there’s a mad man ruling over Jerusalem. He has power. He has an army. He has comfort and control and he wants to keep them both. His name is Herod, and like all people of privilege, his most pressing concern is keeping it. He’s the King and there’s nothing kings like less than the arrival of another king.
Over in Bethlehem, though, Christmas is going on – baby, manger, Joseph, angels, Mary, the star, the whole boat. This is the Christmas we like to sing about. This is the Christmas of pageants and preschool plays; it’s the Christmas we think about as we hang our stockings by the chimney and decorate the tree. It’s this Christmas that feels so wonderful in department stores as the muzak of “Silent Night” seeps through the rattle of blown-out speakers. This is the Christmas of City Hall tree-lightings and candy canes.
We love this Christmas. Who wouldn’t?
Some of us love this Christmas so much we’re offended when people appear to want to dismiss it, minimize it and boil the thickness of its traditions into a bowl of flavorless mush.
But the truth is, what we love most is only a part of the story. A small part.
Christmas is also a young couple living under suspicion of scandal. It’s Mary skipping town during the night to spend time with distant relatives while her tummy grew larger. Christmas is Herod ordering a genocide. It’s young mothers from Bethlehem to Jerusalem and all parts in-between clutching their baby boys as the soldiers draw knives. Christmas is fathers feeling feckless and weak with no way to stop the murder of their sons. Christmas is Mary and Joseph charting the route for a kind of Jewish Underground Railroad as they escape from Bethlehem to Egypt, not knowing if they would ever be able to come home.