Half of my family doesn’t celebrate Christmas. They used to, but now they don’t. It hasn’t been that long since it changed, maybe in the past two years or so. They don’t have trees, but they do have menorahs. They aren’t at all Jewish, but neither are they “Christian”.
I don’t mean that like they don’t believe in Jesus, although they don’t say Jesus unless they’re with Christians. Instead they say “Messiah” or “Yeshua” or “Yehova”. I texted my brother once, “Dude. What gives??? You can’t even say the name of Jesus anymore???”
There were three things you weren’t supposed to talk about in groups. Politics. Religion. I can’t remember number 3. My family used to talk about “religion” all the time (we didn’t use that mad-made traditional word). Now it’s just this awkward thing.
I kid you not we had a joke at Thanksgiving. We at least could laugh about the awkwardness this way. Growing up the big thing was keeping Christ in “Merry Christmas”, not with my family necessarily, but on the Christian radio stations and Christmas Eve church plays. “Happy Holidays” was evidence of the world becoming more secular, of everyone trying not to be offensive to the other religions while actually being offensive to Christians. There was this big push to proclaim your faith by making sure your Christmas cards actually said “Merry Christmas” instead of “Happy Holidays”.
To this day I still shuffle through the Wal-Mart Christmas cards before buying them, and will only buy the ginormous purple box if there are enough cards with nativity scenes and doves proclaiming “Peace on Earth Goodwill to Men”. Back to the joke, my sisters and I started saying “Happy Holidays” to one another. We made dad laugh by reversing the take on an old familiar punchline. “Excuse me everybody, but this year instead of the heathen “Merry Christmas”, let’s make it a point to be saying “Happy Holidays”.
But Mom, but Dad, where do you think I learned all this from?
You were the ones who taught me to love Christmas. You were the one, Dad, who took us driving through towns late at night to find lights. You were the ones who made Christmas special, for me, and for all of my brothers and sisters.
Because of you we knew Jesus.
Because of you we knew Joy.