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The end of Christian Christmas???

The end of Christian Christmas???

Before the lefties attack this commentary as the lament of a right-wing evangelical, I should disclose that I am not a very good Christian –sort of agnostic about the Christian view of eternity.  But I am a BIG fan of Christmas as a Christian holiday of love.  At this time of the year, I become just a wee bit less agnostic.

Christmas is a religious holiday celebrated by hundreds of millions of people across the globe. Whatever one’s view of Christianity, it is indisputably a religion that has had a dominant influence on mankind for a couple of millennia.  It has arguably established the most social, moral, and legal codes directing modern mankind.

It is a celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ – an itinerant preacher.  Yes … Jesus was probably not born on December 25th and much of his life story may be apocryphal.  Since he did exist – and since he did influence mankind to the extent he did – his birth is worthy of celebration even if the date is not exactly correct.

Christ and Christianity were fundamental to the creation of America, and Christmas has been an official National Holiday since 1870 — the only religious celebration to be so honored.  While it is true that America has evolved into a more religiously diverse nation – largely due to the tolerance of Christianity – we need not negate or distract from Christmas’ religious roots or its influence on our Constitution and laws.  

Some of the celebrations of Christmas is derived from Pagan ritual – such as Yule.  But that should not give cause to recycle Christmas back into a neo-pagan festival of commercialism – essentially replacing the doctrine of love with a dogma of avarice. 

The modern celebration of Christmas in America – apart from private religious adherences – has become a cold holiday celebrated more like the glittery promotion of Las Vegas.

As a child in Chicago, my family would make the annual pilgrimage to State Street to see the annual display of windows at Marshall Field’s, Carson Pirie Scott, The Fair and others.  Through the public speaker systems, we heard the traditional songs of the holiday – religious songs to celebrate the religious holiday. There were moving images of Santa Clause in his workshop and depictions of families around a Christmas tree encircled by a toy train. Sometimes a series of windows displaying the conversion of Ebenezer Scrooge.

All the iconic images of the real Christmas – stars and angels — were to be seen in abundance.  And at the end of the parade was the traditional Nativity Scene – with an angel hovering over a manger housing Joseph, Mary and the newborn Jesus.  To one side a group of shepherds with part of their flock.  And to the other side, three elegant men – one black – bearing gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. 

No matter what was in the window, the universal theme was love.  A moment in time for all of mankind to love one another.  It was such a powerful message that even wars would stop on Christmas Eve with combatants breaking ranks to celebrate with each other.

But that is not the Christmas – the National Holiday — we celebrate today throughout America.  The modern civic Christmas has stripped the holiday of its religious origins and meaning.  A misguided interpretation of “separation of church and state” has been the cudgel to beat back the true meaning of Christmas – transforming it into a shallow celebration of shopping.  Only Santa Claus has survived – as long as you do not refer to him as St. Nicolas.  But gone are the stars and angels.  And the iconic Nativity Scene that once graced the civic centers of every community in America is now banned.

The displays along State Street are now sterile creations appearing more like the work of a window dressers’ contest. Pretty colors and designs that do nothing to reflect the real Christmas.  One year it was all about a popular book – Harry Potter.  Another year it was about … snow.  No Magi.  No Shepherds.  No baby Jesus.  This year it was just pretty designs and colors.

It is not that I am a great Christian – as I confessed at the beginning of this commentary — but I am a great fan of the Christian Christmas.  Not because I value Christianity above all other religions, but because I respect the meaning of the foundational holiday.  I think it is worth celebrating in a human and civic sense.

The essence of Christmas can be celebrated without the decorations and the special carols and hymns.  We can celebrate the tradition of love among humanity.  But it is a lot easier when we take a moment in time to use the iconic symbols of the real Christmas to draw ourselves back into the greater meaning.

Whether it is a pendulum that will swing back, or America has lost the true meaning of Christmas forever, I do not know.  But I do know that it is a pity that we have transformed the holiday into something even worse than those Pagan rituals that preceded Christmas. 

When I wish a person Merry Christmas, I do not mean good luck in finding that expensive toy your kid wants.

So, there ‘tis.

About The Author

Larry Horist

So,there‘tis… The opinions, perspectives and analyses of Larry HoristLarry Horist is a businessman, conservative writer and political strategist with an extensive background in economics and public policy. Clients of his consulting firm have included such conservative icons as Steve Forbes and Milton Friedman. He has served as a consultant to the Nixon White House and travelled the country as a spokesman for President Reagan’s economic reforms. He has testified as an expert witness before numerous legislative bodies, including the U. S. Congress. Horist has lectured and taught courses at numerous colleges and universities, including Harvard, Northwestern, DePaul universities, Hope College and his alma mater, Knox College. He has been a guest on hundreds of public affairs talk shows, and hosted his own program, “Chicago In Sight,” on WIND radio. Horist was a one-time candidate for mayor of Chicago and served as Executive Director of the City Club of Chicago, where he led a successful two-year campaign to save the historic Chicago Theatre from the wrecking ball. An award-winning debater, his insightful and sometimes controversial commentaries appear frequently on the editorial pages of newspapers across the nation. He is praised by readers for his style, substance and sense of humor. According to one reader, Horist is the “new Charles Krauthammer.” He is actively semi-retired in Boca Raton, Florida where he devotes his time to writing. So, there ‘tis is Horist’s signature sign off.

17 Comments

  1. Ben

    Larry,

    No one is stopping anyone else from celebrating christmas the way they want. What you seem to be lamenting is that the vast majority of Americans aren’t celebrating christmas the way YOU want.

    Put up a nativity on your property, go to church, say merry christmas if you’d like. Nobody cares. Just don’t use my tax dollars to do so.

    If businesses are decorating store fronts in non religious themes, it’s because the almighty free market dictates it. If there was money to be made by displaying a toy baby doll in some hay, best believe businesses would do so. As an economist, I’d think you’d know this.

    Happy Holidays buddy.

  2. frank stetson

    I agree, the separation of church and state, all church, is an admirable goal and glade the ACLU is here to defend the Constitution on that, although, in the scheme of things, not exactly my highest priority.

    Businesses act in accordance to both legal and economic well-being. In the case of xmas windows, I am pretty sure that decision is economic. Likewise, I was surprised during the summer how many businesses got woke. Heck, even Disney, the bastion of happiness, the American way, and a healthy amount of systemic racism, got woke and now we even have Disney girl characters kissing other girls and other very un-Disney like allowances.

    Life goes on, the millennials are already teaching us they know how to vote with their wallets and business listens to money. Go figure.

    Well, there’s always Kenosha Wisconsin……

    Merry Christmas Joe.

    What I love about Christmas is all the Jesus shows; amazing after all these years, I am still learning about The Greatest Man on Earth. Double amazing that I am still hooked, still watch, and won’t hesitate to watch Ben-Hur one more time just for the Jesus scenes. This year I followed the best-Jesus- actor ever as he went to Israel to unravel Jesus-the-history from Jesus-the-Bible which was just fascinating. Especially the part by the Wailing Wall or somewhere where an Israeli made some comment about Jesus not looking like Jesus anymore and — “get a shave :>)” Hey, we were all thinking it… Also like to hear Jesus say how he played Jesus — it’s all in the look at the camera’s forehead, gives you that ethereal appeal. Try it. I also noted a great manger scene a neighbor put up, all white, all cameo (just flat plywood shapes), very tightly posed, that, IMO, was mesmerizing. So simple, so elegant, so much meaning. Turns out, historically, Jesus was probably born in a basement manager of a relative who didn’t have rooms left due to other relatives and the season. As they noted, Joseph was from the town, undoubtedly had relatives and friends there. The original Bible text words defined as “no room in the inn,” probably meant “no rooms at relative’s house” since the words were translated from another language. Hey, still works for me, still way cool. Turns out the more I know, the better the telling gets.

    This year it was White Christmas —- watched three times. War, Santa, Charity, Vermont —- then I noticed the Vermont chalet had uninsulated cathedral ceilings. Damn, everything was on a sound stage set….. Oh well, ba ba ba boom is still Mr. Singing Christmas to me.

    I did not come from a Christmas family, married into one, and have never looked back. Keep the faith Joe, Christmas is all around us, it’s easy to find if you look. Just not at City Hall.

  3. Tom

    Merry Christmas Larry, Ben, and Frank!!! You guys are great! I enjoy reading your column and comments! If the Three Stooges could have been political, they would have been named Larry, Ben and Frank! Happy New Year too guys!!!!

    • larry Horist

      Tom …. actually one was named Larry.

      • Grank stetson

        Named Larry? Well that’s just Fine 🙂

        Think they woulda been woke victims?
        Certainly blm targets. Rightfully.

  4. Ben

    I guess it all depends on if you are following the liberal Arab Jesus or the American Jesus.

  5. frank stetson

    Does that make Tom, Shemp? Or maybe Curley Joe?

  6. tom williams

    I think the thing I am most troubled with is the pushing of alternatives to CHRISTmas. One example is the U.S. Postal Service. I went to get some Christmas stamps to give to my granddaughter and couldn’t find any with a CHRISTian theme. No Wise Men, No Nativity scene, no Star of Bethlehem… But, we could get Kwanzaa stamps. We could get Hannukkah stamps. We could get all the secular theme stamps we wanted. But nothing having to do with the real roots of the RELIGIOUS and CHRISTIAN holiday celebrating the birth of our Savior and Redeemer. A sad state of affairs for America. The Constitution guarantees us freedom OF religion, not freedom FROM religion. Or, freedom from a PARTICULAR religion, which is what it seems to be right now. Stamps celebrating Kwanzaa; stamps celebrating Hanukkah; but none celebrating our Christian values. This holiday is not Hanukkahmas nor is it Kwanzaamas, or any other name other than CHRISTmas.
    I admit the terrible truth that I am a Christian. Terrible in the minds of some others, I suppose. But I think it’s time for the Christian part of CHRISTmas to be recognized equally along with the other religions or the idea of NOT having a religion at all. If that is your thing, then go for it. But I have my opinions on what this holiday is truly about. Fair’s fair.
    I hope all have had a great Christmas season and can truly say that the love that is supposed to be expressed at this time of year has found you all. I do not dislike anyone for their lack of belief in Christianity. I just would like people to stop denying us Christians a fair shake at this time of year when “our” holiday has been shanghaied to be made into something it was not intended to be.

    • Ben

      Tom,
      It’s not OUR holiday. It’s YOUR holiday. Celebrate it the way YOU want.

      Let’s not forget the real reason for the season, the Winter Solstice. The Church needed something to compete with pagan celebrations and came up with this brilliant marketing scheme. Now capitalism has co opted it. It’s karma. Y’all stole a non religious celebration and made it your own religious holiday, now that we worship and the alter of capitalism, it has stolen your religious holiday and made it secular again.

      Funny how that shit works.

      • Mack ewing

        The real reason for the season is to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ. No, we don’t know the exact date. But it’s more important to celebrate than Juneteenth.

        • frank stetson

          Yeah… I bet Jesus himself would double-down on that one…..

          Why do we have to hate.
          Why do there always have to be winners and losers.
          How about a win-win once in a blue moon.

          Why not celebrate both. Loudly.

        • Ben

          Mack,

          It’s more important than Juneteenth ? I bet that wasn’t the case for the slaves freed from their conservative “Christian” owners.

          Jesus may be your reason, but it’s not the reason for the majority of Americans.
          Again, nobody is keeping you from celebrating as you wish. The problem seems to be that others aren’t celebrating as you wish. And in that case, get over yourself, snowflake.

    • frank stetson

      Let’s see, a quick visit to my favorite quasi governmental organization, usps, and we find:

      A visit from St. Nick stamps….they are forever stamps
      Our Lady of Guapula stamps, Christmas, Christian, maybe the Latino aspect puts you off, but looks more Catholic to me
      Poinsettia Stamps

      You can get St. Nick postmarks, packages, etc. too. They even have Florentine Madonna and Child notecards.

      Sorry you didn’t get what you want, they are available. And sorry you think Christians get shorted by the USPS offer of some International and other Religion’s cards, they only get one stamp you got 2 or 3….. plus the note card :>)

      All you had to due was click on “Holiday Stamps.”

      I love USPS, once I learned how to do Priority Mail pickup, they are regulars at my front door. It’s so EZ, wonder when UPS and Fedex will figure it out. I have even been known to illegally give them gifts since I do that to all front line workers of our Next Millennium Greatest Generation. So, until they has to wear the body cam, I will show them some money for what they do.

      Please inform your Granddaughter, hate to have her have the wrong opinion of these superstars.

      And Merry Christmas, I do respect a man who loves a good stamp!

  7. tom williams

    All I can say is that they seem to advertise all the other types of stamps but not the Christian theme ones. The fact that you have to search for traditional Christian themes is a bit disturbing. I agree with you, though, about USPS being superstars. My father was a letter carrier for 37 years before retiring to Florida. I send lots of stuff using USPS package delivery and I’ve never had a problem with them. AND… they are less expensive than UPS or Fedex, and just as timely if not more so. The one thing I feel needs to be changed… put USPS back into direct federal control. The outsourcing idea is not working the way it should. I’m a Military Reserve and Federal Civil Service retiree and am proud to have served. When we had to work on outsourcing of certain things to contractors, I had serious doubts that they could work. In many cases I was right. Others seemed to work out better. For instance in a bid on aircraft maintenance at my own base, a bid between Civil Service and private companies resulted in not only Civil Service winning the bid, but by a wide margin. So, at times the lack of a profit motive works better for all concerned.

    • frank stetson

      I think if they just get DeJoy out of there, it will improve. I did really just scroll, just search function was there too and holidays or Christmas was clickable, didn’t even have to type the word. I agree there’s a lot of different religions and countries with stamps; I am thinking positive that they all sell and that’s why they are there, and that would be OK. I was surprised not a few more Christmas choices, seemed limited given the numbers of buyers and where the demographics.

      And we most certainly have one extra office that should be shut down round here. Two branches in a stone’s throw and no people.

      Their website could be more efficient and effective too; I have muscle memory now but took a bit to get there. I just love that I can print a label, put my package on the front porch, and it disappears with a horn toot into the sunset! Even Walmart uses them for ships and returns.

      I just hate than you can’t tip cash, and only gifts of $20 or less. That’s just bogus. All I have is 20’s…….it’s an ATM world…..now….

  8. JoeyP

    The BIBLE says to LOVE one another . . . Put our DIFFERENCES aside and help your neighbor in need. Jesus is LORD. One Enlightened Patriot.

    • Ben

      Joey,
      That was the liberal Arab Jesus, not the conservative white American Jesus.

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