Every year for the last twenty, secularizers have been busy sucking the life out of the celebration of Christmas until, in its public expression, it has become little more than an empty shell of what it was for generations past. Like a debased paper currency with no precious commodity to support it, it has been inflated in importance but has no longer any real value. It is devoid of content, context, and meaning. If all the Christmas season signifies is a time for retailers to balance their books then what's really the point? What is it, exactly, that we celebrate? The winter solstice? Tim Allen movies? Christmas in the twenty first century is little more than Santa Claus, pretty lights, and Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer, and if the trend toward removing all public traces of spiritual meaning continues there will be no public Christmas fifty years hence. A celebration which is a perversion of the thing celebrated will eventually whither and die.
The religious awe formerly inspired by the Christmas story has moved generations of Christians to create beautiful art, beautiful music, and beautiful lives. The secular world view has nothing to compare to it, and as they continue to denature this magical, mystical eve and day, they're succeeding in doing what they always do, they're turning something beautiful and wonderful into something tawdry, garish, and banal.
Secularism possesses the Midas touch in reverse. It turns what is priceless into dust and sand. It's little wonder that many people are fed up with the whole Christmas experience. Attaching no particular religious meaning to the day, they come to realize that the season is an obscene orgy of gratuitous consumption and synthetic joy. Indeed, it is dawning, perhaps, on some Americans that in the absence of the birth of the Savior there really is nothing to be joyful about.
Christians, however, are beginning to rebel. They're made as hell, and they're not going to take it any more. Or so it would seem from a couple of recent news reports, one from New Jersey and one from Colorado.
The "uproar" has spread to Denver, Colorado where the proletarian masses revolted at an annual "holiday" parade which had banned all religious trappings. The crowd lining the streets had the temerity to defy the town fathers by conducting a hymn sing and talking about the fact that Christmas means nothing at all if it doesn't celebrate God becoming man and dwelling among us to share in our humanity and ultimately dying for our sins so that we may have eternal life. That is, of course, the meaning of Christmas, the only meaning that can inspire genuine joy and wonder. It's a meaning that's a bit more worth celebrating, we should think, than that Santa was able to cajole Rudolph into guiding his sleigh onto every rooftop before dawn.
Even so, the process of reeducating a public which has forgotten the essence of Christmas promises to be long and arduous. Consider the sentiments expressed by Lori Brocesky at the Denver parade:
Surely this is a start, but we can't help wonder what satisfaction one can take in the Christmas tradition unless that tradition emphasizes its religious heritage. But never mind. We're gratified that the proles are finally sticking their thumb in the eyes of the religiophobes at the ACLU, the officious bureaucrats on their town councils, and pusillanimous school administrators everywhere and are beginning to demand that they be given back the country in which they grew up.