Be sure to watch it to the end.
“The most depressing White House Christmas card of all time.” That’s what American Thinker said about the Obama family’s 2013 holiday greeting.
Huffington Post called it “stubbornly secular.”
And indeed, the card fails to mention God or Jesus, or anything vaguely religious. There’s no Christmas tree or wreath or holly. In fact, it doesn’t mention WHAT, exactly, we’re celebrating with this card. The card reads simply,
“As we gather around this season, may the warmth and joy of the holidays fill your home.”
The only prominent feature is the inclusion of the Obamas’ two dogs, Bo and Whatever-the-New-One-Is-Called.
I understand the critics’ chagrin: I choose to send religious cards at the holidays because…well, that’s what Christmas is about. And apart from the lack of meaning in the White House card, I don’t like the white-on-white-on-white theme, like the White House in a snow storm.
I do, though, have to note that I’m pleased the card was designed and produced in Michigan. Graphic artist Chris Hankinson of Hilltop Studios in Grand Rapids designed the card, according to White House specifications. Champion Die of Comstock Park, near Grand Rapids, made the die for the pop-up White House. And Admore Inc. of Macomb actually manufactured the cards.
This is not the first time that the Obamas made the family pet the focal point of their holiday celebration. I wrote about it in 2011, when the White House was decorated in a “Bo” theme, with cookies and ornaments and decorations all bearing images of a Portuguese Water Dog.
I don’t mean to be negative, but, you know…. Jesus?
Can you believe this? Some parents—among them David and Nancy French, who write over on the Evangelical Portal at Patheos—are reportedly SANTA TRUTHERS.
These are folks who, for one reason or another, have decided to skip the traditional Santa Claus story in their own families, ‘fessing up to their children that Mommy and Daddy put all those presents under the tree.
But why? Here are a few of the more common reasons:
Perhaps it’s out of concern that the religious significance of Christ’s birth is somehow lost under a mountain of gifts and candy canes, the birth of the newborn Christ Child overshadowed by the tangible presence of a jolly guy in the mall wearing a red suit.
That’s what the Frenches say. In an article which appeared in Rare, Nancy French wrote:
Rather than “opting out of the drama,” we are choosing to tell a much better story. Parents who tell their kids about the fat guy in a red suit coming down the chimney if they’ve been “good for goodness sake” are actually opting out of the most dramatic story ever recorded in human history. I write stories for a living and understand the need for flair. But the Santa story adds more than flair. It adds elements that, in fact, directly oppose the “good news” of the gospel.
…Thankfully we have a better story to tell—one of redemption and forgiveness. How dramatically poetic that it all begins with a virgin, a census, wise men, a cattle stall and the savior of the earth.
That’s the kind of drama that can really invigorate our kids’ lives!
I’ve seen parents who veered from the course in teaching their children about Santa, instead emphasizing that the jolly man is only a myth, and explaining to their youngsters that the gifts actually come from the parents who love them. Their approach, they believe, encourages gratitude and realism.
Still others, especially parents of very young children, recognize that after teaching their children not to let people touch them and not to accept candy from strangers, plunking Junior down on Santa’s lap suggests that those oft-repeated safety rules are not to be taken seriously. And of course, preschoolers are often afraid of the bearded stranger—so Christmas can be a source of tension rather than an exciting event.
* * * * *
When my own children were small, we looked forward to Santa’s coming with enthusiasm. I admit, though, that I felt a twinge of guilt when it seemed that the shopping and the gift-giving (and more than that, the gift-GETTING) sometimes got in the way of the real meaning of Christmas—the one Charlie Brown talked about in the famed “Charlie Brown Christmas”.
I know families—many of them, in fact!—which savor both the spiritual and the secular celebrations of Christmas, who are religious but unashamed to jump in with both feet to enjoy the magic of Santa’s coming.
I’m not saying there’s a “right” and a “wrong” way to celebrate Christmas. I’m just interested in taking the social temperature of my readers.
So let’s take a poll. WHAT DO YOU THINK? What do you do in your own home, and why?
|Kathy Schiffer is the wife of a deacon and mother of three grown children, and currently works as Director of Publicity and Special Events for Ave Maria Communications.|
Click here throughout the Year of Faith, as the Catholic Channel at Patheos.com invites Catholics of every age and stripe to share what they are gleaning and carrying away from this gift of timely focus.
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