I got a press release from the American Family Council yesterday. It called for a boycott of all Gap-owned stores because The Gap refuses to use the word “Christmas” in its holiday advertising including in-store displays. The boycott is running from November 1 through Christmas day. I have a problem with this on so many levels.
Now, let me state for the record that Christmas is one of my favorite holidays. We are Christians, and we observe. My older daughter is already talking about how many days are left until the big day. We even plan our yearly vacation to Disney around the holidays so we can share the breathtaking Candlelit Processional with the girls. It’s such a beautiful way to reinforce the story of the Nativity. However, as someone who celebrates Christmas, I don’t think that I need to jam my holiday down anyone’s throat. Especially when it comes to their shopping experience.
You’d think an organization that calls for family values would agree. Since when is Christmas — or any of the December holidays — supposed to be about commercialism and presents anyway? Some of my Jewish friends have the same problem. Hanukkah is all about those eight presents now. A miracle in a cave? Not so much anymore. And this year especially, when 10 percent of the U.S. workforce is out of a job, materialism should be downplayed as much as possible. I know first hand how Christmas signs can actually make someone feel worse about the holiday.
I was remind of this on Saturday. We were at a good friend’s daughter’s birthday party. Moms and dads waiting around for the party to end. We were talking about presents. We started with birthday gifts and moved onto the topic of holiday gifts. One mom said something to the effect of could we imagine how it must feel to actually need Christmas presents. I piped up that I could, actually, and felt tears stinging my eyes. When we were little — right after my dad died — there was a year we didn’t have too many gifts from Santa under the tree. My older brother, ten years my senior, was a volunteer firefighter at the time. Hearing about our plight, someone at the firehouse dropped gifts on our front lawn that Christmas morning. Gifts my mom wouldn’t have been able to buy. They fell out of Santa’s sleigh, we were told. And that, my wonderful friends over at American Family Council, is what Christmas (and Hanukkah and Kwanzaa and Eid al-Adha) is all about.
Who cares if there’s a Merry Christmas sign in the Gap? I don’t. I care more about how we, as a country and a people, treat each other. And a sign isn’t going to make, for example, someone donate a toy or sweater to someone in need. It’s not going to get someone to hold a door open for someone who doesn’t have a free hand. It’s certainly not going to convert an atheist to a Christian, or remind someone in a fit of shopping frenzy why they celebrate their holiday to begin with.
So to all those calling for a boycott of Gap I say this: Get a life and start worrying about things that actually matter. People in need. Kids who won’t have a holiday celebration this year. Elderly folks who will go to church alone on Christmas morning. Soldiers who will miss out on lighting the Shamash with their children. Sick people who will spend Kwanzaa sitting in a hospital bed. Even if you got your wish and Old Navy stores displayed 20-foot technicolor Christmas signs, it’s not going to change how those hurting, sad, lost people feel. Instead of complaining about signs, wouldn’t it be better to call on your 2.6 million members to do good this holiday season? Because in my book, that’s the true meaning of Christmas.
Do you support the boycott of Gap? How do you feel about public demonstrations of Christmas or other religious holidays?