This little catch phrase was often used at one time to point out the fact that commercialism is not what Christmas is all about. It's not all about Santa and presents and a tree. Instead, it is about the celebration of the birth of Jesus...or at least, it is if you believe in that sort of thing.
For the record, I am Catholic. I was raised Catholic and went to Catholic school until we moved here to Pennsylvania. I believe in what the Bible says, although I don't take it as a word-for-word historical account of things back then. However, I do believe that there was a man named Jesus and He was the Son of God, and He died on a cross for my sins, and someday I will meet Him in Heaven. I am an a la carte Catholic, however, as I am several years behind on the whole Confession thing (one of the big sacraments, which I have not partaken in since I was in fourth grade), and if I skip Mass one week (which plunges me into a state of "Mortal Sin"), I still take Communion the next week (which is a big no-no in such a state). However, I believe in Catholicism for the most part, and the patterns and rituals and structure of the Mass are both comforting and meaningful for me.
I went off to college at a little school called Grove City College, which is a Presbyterian school, complete with strict male/female intervisitation policies and a chapel requirement. At GCC, among other things, I learned the importance of "accepting Christ," which was basically the act of formally acknowledging to Jesus that you recognize him as your Savior. This had never really been a part of my Catholic upbringing, but for good measure, I decided to go that route and accepted Christ ne evening at a Bible study...and in church one day (not Catholic church)...and sitting on a log during a retreat one weekend. I didn't quite get the idea, and it wasn't a deep and meaningful experience for me, so I didn't know if I was doing it right. So that's why I did it three times...just to make sure He heard me.
While I was in college, I attended a church with my roommate called Fellowship Community Church. It was an Evangelical Free church, and it was about as far as you could get from Catholicism without making the turn into the holy-laughter and speaking-in-tongues churches that some of my friends attended. Sure, there were people that raised their hands up when singing, but once I got used to that, it wasn't so bad. I enjoyed the pastor's sermons, and I enjoyed the praise music, and I enjoyed the fact that I could take notes in my Bible. Most of all, I enjoyed the fellowship. It was a great place.
When I got home, I went back to my Catholic church. And when I met Bill, whose two kids attend Catholic school, I ensconced myself firmly back into my Catholic life. We attend church as often as we can and will get married in the Catholic church and will raise our children within that religion. But I also hope that our children get the chance to explore the options out there someday like I did. It has made my faith that much more meaningful for me.
Anyway, back to the reason for the season. Except at this very moment when you are reading about it in my blog and also when I am in church on Sundays, my faith is a pretty private thing. If a patient asks me to pray with them, I am certainly willing to do so, but I don't ever inflict my views on others. And I would certainly not tell you what you had to believe.
Apparently, there are a lot of people out there with too much time on their hands who are trying to sterilize everything to the point that no one ever again gets insulted by the word Christmas. Let's talk about holiday trees. I get it...it's an interpretation of a Pagan symbol and has to do with Solstice. However, in my world, it's a Christmas tree...and that's what it will stay. Can't we just leave well enough alone? Chances are, if you have a Christmas tree, you are either a Christian celebrating Christmas or you are someone who enjoys the Christmas holiday without the Christian beliefs. Whatever. Celebrate as you will. But do we really have to go so politically correct that we can't call a Christmas tree what it is?
On the other end of the spectrum, you have some of the more fundamental Christians who are getting their drawers in a bunch because major retailers like Target don't use the word Christmas in their marketing materials. Um, hello? Micromanage much? It's a MARKETING CAMPAIGN! It's not a statement of Target's world view! Do I really have to boycott Target to be a good Christian? Because I have to tell you...sometimes a trip to Target is the only thing standing between me and a long walk off a short pier. Do you really want to take that away from me?
Anyway, the long and short of it is this...believe what you want to. I won't try to convince you otherwise. And if someone happens to say "Merry Christmas" to you, and you don't celebrate it, please just smile and say thank you. Chances are, they aren't trying to say "Merry Day That Jesus Christ, My Personal Lord and Savior Was Born" to you. Instead, they are probably just trying to share the spirit of the holidays with you...and isn't a little more goodwill to men (and women, of course) kind of what we need?