Let’s start with a little lesson in etymology:
The word “Christ” and its compounds, including “Christmas”, have been abbreviated in English for at least the past 1,000 years – long before the modern “Xmas” was commonly used. “Christ” was often written as “XP” or “Xt”; there are references in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle as far back as AD 1021. This X and P arose as the uppercase forms of the Greek letters used in ancient abbreviations for the word “CHRIST” and are still widely seen in many Eastern Orthodox icons depicting yours truly Jesus The Christ.
There are some people I know who think that by saying or writing Merry Xmas they were leaving out the “Jesus part” of Christmas. Yet, they were merrily speaking Greek!
Some people may want to replace Santa Claus with Frosty The Snowman. I don’t claim to speak for Jesus, but I tend to think he’d be happy with Frosty OR Santa. Santa, because he represents giving to all… unconditional love… and cookies! And Frosty, because, interestingly – and with a bit of a stretch – he represents Resurrection, when he says as he’s melting: “I’ll come back again next year.”
Let’s pretend that you actually could take the Christ out of Christmas (you can’t. We’re just pretending – just like you can’t take the 4th out of The 4th of July or the Thanks out of Thanksgiving or the Pass out of Passover or the Atone out of Yom Kippur!) All you’d be left with is December 25th. And I’m sorry, but can you actually take a day off of work just to celebrate December 25th? Let’s be really honest: aren’t you glad some of us celebrate religious holidays? We do pile up the days off on the score-board…you gotta give us that!
For me, Christmas is a day like no other. We get to celebrate this amazing man who asked us to love our neighbor as ourselves. We get to honor “a man like no other who has trod the globe.” And all he asks of us is to be meek, merciful and peacemakers. Oh – and he asks us to rejoice. He even let us know that “Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hid.” Guess what else? We get to be wise men and give gifts! We can humble ourselves and receive them. We can “give us this day our daily bread!” We can forgive debts – and debtors. We can be forgiven. We can be delivered from evil. We can live in the kingdom with power and glory forever. Who wouldn’t want that… EVERY day?
And if that doesn’t sit well…guess what? I’ll just love you anyway. ‘Cause dats da way he wanted it!
So the next time you hear Merry Xmas! You can say in your best Greek “Efcharisto!” Thank You and a healthy and happy January 1st to you too.
And to all good night.