I keep hearing a lot of hoopla about the “war on Christmas” and how people/businesses/government are trying to “take Christ out of Christmas”. Personally, I think God’s big enough to take care of Himself and quite honestly, I haven’t encountered anything of the kind. What I have seen, however, are Christians not living out their faith in a visible way.
When I hear retail clerks talk about how rude people have been to them this month, or see people pushing and shoving in their haste to buy *stuff*, I have to wonder if we are focusing on the wrong thing. Instead of complaining about retail establishments using the phrase “Happy Holidays” rather than “Merry Christmas”, perhaps we, who call ourselves Christians should be more concerned about how we treat other people every day of the year.
It saddens me to know that the worst tippers are Christians visiting restaurants after church on Sunday. Or what about road rage? I see just as much of that amongst Christians as anyone else. And here’s one that will make a lot of us think: How do we treat the people who call our homes at inconvenient times in an attempt to sell us something or have us answer a poll? Gotcha, didn’t I? 😉 I’m as guilty as the next when it comes to being annoyed by telemarketers. But you know what? The person on the other end of the line is just someone who has been hired to do a job. I doubt anyone really enjoys that job but sometimes that’s the only job available to them. I don’t think it’s necessary to listen to a long-winded speech but there’s no call for being rude. I try to politely interrupt as soon as I can, tell them I’m not interested and then hang up so they can quickly move on to their next call. And I try to envision a real person on the other end of the line.
Each of us encounters numerous people in our day to day life who are easy to ignore or forget about. Restaurant servers, store clerks, hotel maids, fast food workers, delivery people and all the many others whose work makes our lives better in some way. Most of these people don’t make much money for their efforts and too often they are treated rather shabbily. If you want a real eye-opener, I challenge you to read “Nickle and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America” by Barbara Ehrenreich. It’s the true account of the author’s year spent trying to live on minimum wage in America. She works several minimum wage jobs over the course of the year and writes compellingly of her experience. Trust me: After reading this, you will never look at a waitress or hotel maid in quite the same way again. And that’s a good thing.
So here’s my suggestion. Say “Merry Christmas” if you want to (if you know the other person is Jewish, “Happy Hanukkah” would be appreciated). Smile at the people waiting on you in stores or restaurants, even if they say “Happy Holidays”. Tip well. Treat everyone with respect and dignity. In other words, visibly live the faith you claim to have and quit worrying about how others celebrate the birth of Christ. You know, the One whose birthday we were never commanded to observe in the first place and Who was almost certainly not born in December? Just sayin’…