Scrooging on the Christmas Cheer

It was with some huffing and puffing that I made my way into a too- busy, bustling supermarket to buy a basketful of Christmas cards last week.

I wiped my brow, took a deep breath and battled through the minefield of all things sparkly and bright in an attempt to find ‘religiously themed cards’. I couldn’t see zip. I wasn’t surprised. Of almost every supermarket I had visited that week, none had had cards depicting the nativity scene or even of the Magi trecking to Bethlehem. I could find any number of imaginatively dressed (and even undressed) santa’s…. there was a scrum for the cute kitty cards and the saucy snowmen cards were in no short supply either…..but could I find a single card depicting and celebrating Christ’s birth ?

Nope.

Thoroughly defeated,I bevvied for an opening between the ladies and gents ammassed in the heaving store and I feverishly began to pull the boxes crammed with santa cards off the shelves (must have loooked like a crazed atheist for a while there!) so that I could search behind the cards on show…and what do you think I eventually found? Yup, box after box of religiously themed Christmas cards, hidden away from sight! Because yep, that’s about right isn’t it? Let’s just take Christ completely out of Christmas eh?

Later that evening I thought about the struggle I’d had to find my cards, and for a moment I wondered if it was worth it….and then I thanked God for all the wonderful people that he has placed in my life, I thanked God for the people who love me and whom I love, I thanked Him that he has given me another Christmas with my loved ones, that He has placed old friends and new in my life, I thanked Him that I worship at a parish I call home and that I am always greeted with a smile and a warm welcome, I thank Him for my friends, real and cyber, and yes, it is most definately worth it. Join me in making a wise choice with your money when it comes to purchasing your Christmas cards this year, I for one, refuse to take Christ out of Christmas and I’m sure that many of my Christian friends around the world are also increasingly horrified that their local superstores attempt to similarly blot out our God and to have us all sending ‘happy winterfest cards’, aren’t you?

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17 Responses to Scrooging on the Christmas Cheer

  1. Holly says:

    I can understand your annoyance, but I don’t think it is some giant conspiracy of superstores attempting to “blot out our God”. Money is the motivation for just about any business decision. If this was a conscious decision to place religious cards in less prominent positions than non-religious cards, I would assume that it is simply a matter of what the demand is and therefore what sells better. Why is there more demand for non-religious cards? I’m sure a big part of it is the fact that many people celebrate Christmas as a cultural celebration rather than a religious celebration.

    I’m a church-going Christian (and yep, I’ll be getting up at 7 on Christmas morning to go to church) but I am only sending religious cards to about half a dozen people, the rest will get cute puppies and kittens in santa hats and snarky Far Side cards. I know my family and friends are not religious, so religious cards mean nothing to them. Cards are like gifts, and I apply the same principle that it is about what the receiver would like rather than what my preferences are to give. (Maybe we disagree on that point?) The ones receiving religious cards are clients whom I know to be religious. I’ve had plenty of chances throughout the year to work out where they stand, and so I send the religious cards to those whom I know would appreciate them.

  2. O says:

    Hi kiddo. Yup. I hear your. My thoughts on this happen to be on my blog today and they are a little different than I felt on this last year.

    http://onionboy.typepad.com/luminousmiseries/2007/12/christmas-salt.html

  3. Deb, I agree. I looked really hard to find a photo Christmas card template that at least said “Merry Christmas!” I found one that said, “For unto us a child is born.” I liked that even better. I send the same card to everybody, believer or not. You never know when a seed could be planted. Plus I see it as a way to honor the one whose birthday it is.

    I remember too what a blessing it is to live in a country where I’m just irritated that people don’t say, “Merry Christmas.” No one, in any way, infringes on my right to worship as I please. Thanks be to God. Not every country is so blessed with freedom.

  4. Renee says:

    I am attempting to be grateful for all the blessings of my life and quit pining for all that is lacking. That means, as you have said, be glad for the richness of Christmas as I know it to be, and not be disturbed by the lack of it elsewhere. Maybe my joy will do much more good than my criticism. I’m trying, anyway.

    Again, glad you are back!!

  5. ukok says:

    Holly,

    Rosemary hit it on the head for me, which is exactly the same reason that I only send cards with a Christian message/image. I always give them to my friends and acquaintences, even/especially the non Christian friends and family members, …because my Christian card might be the only Christian image in their home that Christmas and who is to say that it won’t spark someones brain cells into contemplating the true meaning of Christmas?

    And oh, I do disagree that there is some kind of intentional endeavour by major stores to remove Christ from Christmas. Take one look in your local store and tell me how many things in there depict the true meaning of Christmas…

  6. I didn’t send cards with a Nativity scene on them but they did say Merry Christmas – I won’t do Seasons Greetings or Happy Holidays.

  7. Holly says:

    Ukok,
    I can understand your perspective on card choice and I think it is admirable. This might come down to a difference in cultures (religion is very much kept on the outer in Australia) or in the type of people we associate with, but I know how unwelcome religious cards would be to many of the people I know. To some it would border on offensive.

    As for the issue of stores, I still contend that it is not a anti-Christmas conspiracy. The day that nativity scenes become hot sellers is the day that stores pack the shelves with religious decorations. I see it all as being about the bottom line for corporations. The focus on non-religious Christmas things because they sell. The do not focus on religious things because they don’t sell. You could argue that religious things may not sell as well because people just can’t find them, but I would expect stores do both stocktake and market research and if they were finding there was a demand for something they would jump at the chance to supply it and if they found that the small number of religious cards were selling out while they had plenty of other cards left over they would adjust their numbers. They may also look at it from the perspective that if they focused on drawing in Christians they would turn away the business of others. If they are focusing on the business of others then it must be because the others have more buying power.

    I agree completely that Christmas has become much less Christian and is not focused on Jesus at all in the mainstream. What I am contending is that they is because people are becoming less religious. Stores are simply following their lead and giving them what they want to buy.

  8. I hear you Deb

    Today I had a trainee teacher from Poland working with me. She wanted to tell 8th and 9th graders (age 14-16) about Christmas in Poland.

    The first question from EVERY group was “Does Father Christmas come and how many presents do you get?” I was so shocked.

    And so was she.

    At the break in the staff room I got some teachers together so they could ask J. questions too.

    Guess what the first question was?

    Sigh.

    And this is in a country where many many families go to church at Christmas and Advent, where we have nativity plays in every school, sing carols and read the Christmas Gospel at home before the supper on Christmas Eve

    but it shows where their hearts /thoughts really were …

    I’m not sending ONE Christmas card this year. I guess as a sort of silent protest about all the commercialism.

    But I loved the card you sent me -a nd the Advent devotional … you are a great friend and Advent – fasting and waiting to celebrate the incarnation of God – is my favourite season of the year.

    Love you 🙂

  9. AutumnRose says:

    This may be interesting in the light of your post, it certainly changed my perspective:

    http://iamhisbeloved.wordpress.com/2007/12/12/a-round-robin-from-jesus/

    Blessings of the season to you! 😀
    AR xx

  10. Holly says:

    That’s a great link, AutumnRose. It sums up how I feel about a lot of this ‘war on Christmas’ stuff.

  11. Jennifer says:

    I made my cards and I was appaled at the price they wanted for a nativity scene stamp. It sas the only religious one they had. It was way too expensive..so your getting one thát’s a secular one. Sorry about that…I tried my best but can’t afford an 80 stamp right now. And I agree, even trying to find premade cards that are religious are hard.

  12. Valerie says:

    I used to separate my religious cards from my secular cards – then one day about 2 years ago, I questioned why in the world I was doing that! So, I now send out Christmas cards with the Christian greetings to all of my family and friends. I usually buy my Christmas cards for the following year on the day after Christmas when the price is reduced, and there is a huge selection of religious cards and not much of a selection for the secular cards from which to choose.

  13. ukok says:

    Holly,

    I suppose the difference between us might actually come down to the fact that I don’t care if the recipient of my Christian Christmas card takes offence that I sent it to them.

    I won’t make the decision to send them something more ‘secular’ just to make it more palatable to them.

    Of course, they can always toss it in the bin if they don’t like it, but I won’t compromise my convictions about this. I can’t separate my faith life from my physical life. I am who I am and friends, family and acqaintences know that my faith is the foundation of who I am. Sending Christmas images and messages at this time of year, merely accord Christ his proper place, IMO. There’s no need to be anal about it though. I mean, I don’t picket supermarkets in protest. My silent protest is in purchasing or making cards which depict the true meaning of Christmas, or at the very least, I write a Christian verse or message on them. For me, Santa just doesn’t depict Christ or the Christian message.

    It’s good to have your input on recent posts, even though we may disagree. frequently.

    AR,

    Thanks for the link. Though I disagree with the premise of what I found there.

    It sounds like a very condescending round robin if I may be so bold. It seems from the outset to suggest that we can’t object and be good Christians.

    I can write letters to soldiers, I can buy cafod cows and sheep for gifts, I can visit the sick, donate to the poor, go to Mass, contemplate the miracle of Jesus etc…and still complain and correct where it is my belief that it is necessary.

    I see a lot of bemoaning in the blogosphere by Christians who would have us all believe that secualrisms don’t impact lives…and that is wrong, because they do.

    Lorna,

    You don’t know how happy it makes me that you are enjoying the devotional I sent you.

    If I may ask, how have your friends taken it, that you have decided not to send cards this Christmas?

    I know two people who refuse to send cards. One just thinks it’s a waste of money and the other person says that it costs too much and therefore they donate the money for the cost of the cards, to a charity instead.

    I just love giving and recieving them so I can’t see me making that decision, but I do understand why you did it.

    Oh, I meant to ask, is the polish teacher Catholic? We have a huge influx of polish Catholics coming over to England right now.

    YAY for a more Catholicised England…Henry the 8th must be turning in his grave!

    Angela Messenger,

    Good for you for not doing the ‘happy holidays thing’!

    Jennifer,

    I’m so miffed that decent religious rubber stamps are so very expensive. I’ve seen a gorgeous stamp, but it just costs so much money as to make it impractible to send off for and pay postage on as well.

    Maybe I’ll save up and buy it next year!

  14. Maryellen says:

    I have more Religious Christmas Cards than I can ever use.
    Convents, Monasteries & Catholic Ministries send them to me free every year. I send a donation to the Institutions of the cards I choose to use. Many offer Masses for the recipient of your card. Others are simply religious and offer no Mass. I contribute more money for the ones with Masses, and less for those without.

    My favorites come from the Sacred Heart Monastery in Hales Corners WI. These are the Priests of the Sacred Heart. All the cards are of high quality and beautiful. Of course it’s too late to get cards from them now.

    Another set of beautiful cards come from the Carmelites, http://www.littleflower.org. They send them in August. I’ll try to remember to post the addresses on my blog next year, well in advance of Advent. The Benedictines sends cards, as does Jt. Joseph’s Indian School in South Dakota, and many others.

    I never have to shop for cards, they just come to me in the mail. I think my name is sold to every Catholic institution that offers cards. LOL.

    Because of postage hikes, I’m sending Ukoks e-cards to many who have email addresses.

  15. Holly says:

    Ukok,
    I think I understand where you are coming from and I’m sure in most cases the recipient will either hold the religious message to heart if they identify it, or disregard it and focus on the personal message if they do not identify with the religous message.
    I will still continue with my own filtering system because I have some friends who are very sensitive to such things. I have friends whom make lists of card options ranging from secular or religious to hanukkah or kwanzaa so that their friends may select the option they would most like to receive. some may see this as overly PC, but these are the type of people am friends with and if this is their kind of courtesy then I will be equally as sensitive and inclusive in my Christmas correspondance to them. It’s more important for me to make them feel as if I understand them and their beliefs then it is for me to gently lead them towards Christ, and maybe that is my flaw.

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