I've had this on my mind a lot lately, so let me see if I can get this blogpost in while I'm waiting for a return to an email.
Let's start with this: Jesus is not the reason for the season. The solstice is. There's a reason why just about every major faith system has a joyous holiday that corresponds with the winter solstice: the days are getting longer and the light is coming back. This is nice enough in our modern world, but imagine how much nicer it was, you know, pre-electricity. In my experience, a mid-December day in the North of England is roughly 12 minutes long.
Solstice holidays existed. As Christianity spread it extrapolated its own holiday on top of existing ones to make the transition into Christianity more inviting. For other examples of this, you might look into the prevalence of bunnies and eggs at the time Christians celebrate the resurrection of Christ.
"But, Meg!" you might say, "It's called CHRISTmas. Not SOLSTICEmas!"
Well, fair enough. The name of the holiday demonstrates the dominance of Christianity in our world. 76% of Americans are Christian. Our president is Christian (despite paranoid conspiracies to the contrary: Barack Obama is not a Muslim communist). Over 90% of our congress are Christian. There are lots of reasons why Christianity is dominant, not the least of which is because it's historically been pretty domineering, but that's for another blog post.
We call this holiday Christmas because that's how it's been incorporated into our society via a dominant religious affiliation.
Of course, Christianity's dominance means other perks for Christians. There are no societal impediments to practicing Christianity in America. Outside, I suspect, from finding parking at some of the bigger megachurches (my Dad used to call the megachurch outside Memphis "Fort God". Hee). At the risk of going all Sue Sylvester, you think it's hard being a Christian? Try being a Muslim. Try being an atheist. Those are some tough labels to wear in America.
This won't stop Bill O'Reilly and Rush Limbaugh and the rest of the right-wing desperate-for-victimhood-without-the-drag-of-experiencing-victimization crowd from crowing about the War on Christmas; whining about the assault on their faith from the clerk at Home Depot who says "Happy Holidays." I can't wait for Sarah Palin to chime in. I thought about friending her on Facebook just to see her take.
This "it's OURS and you CAN'T have it!" attitude makes me seethe; it so unfair and so contrary to the spirit of the season. And so so so so stupid.
Of course, it's my own damn fault for listening. And so I'm gonna stop. I'll treat it like the leotarded nonsense it is. I'll sing some carols and eat the good food and wrap the presents and trim the trees and have some eggnog and have a Merry Christmas indeed.
Except the eggnog. Eggnog is gross.