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Christmas is about more than just signage, right?

Christmas is about more than just signage, right?

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?

5 Responses to “Boycotts and Christmas: Bah, Humbug!”

  1. Sarah says:

    I completely agree with you! Some groups feel the need to use things like that to their advantage. Thanks for reminding me about how I should prepare for and treat this holiday season! I feel truly blessed with all that I have. Our family has always been blessed; I remember buying Christmases gifts, wrapping them and ding-dong-ditching said gifts on needy church members’ doorsteps. What a thrill that was! We also sang Christmas songs at old folks’ homes and made sugar cookies for friends. We knew they needed some uplifting and we played a small part of that. Those traditions will be carried on into my own family.

  2. Ulrike says:

    I utterly agree with you. Not only am I against ramming any opinion or belief down anybody’s throat (believe what you want to believe and let me do my thing), but also do I find that the world is such a multi-national, -religious, -cultural (need I go on) place now that there is no longer one place where everybody celebrates the same thing at the same time.
    I live in Dubai in the UAE, a Muslim country, and here we have Eid celebrations coming up, Christmas trees in some shops, diwali lights have just been taken down, and and and – never a dull moment. Live and let live – and as you said, if you feel so strongly, why not donate time or money to those who may wish to celebrate Christmas but are struggling to do so?

  3. Ulrike says:

    Dear Karen, I will be using your post as inspiration for my blog posting due to go out on Sunday 15th (http://blog.ulwoolfrey.com)
    I will post a link to your blog.
    Thanks for the inspiration.

  4. kb says:


    Can’t wait to read it! Thanks for the comment and the link.

    Sarah, You did a beautiful thing for someone. Good for you, and good that you will carry on that tradition!


  5. Babette says:

    Karen, I got here after Ulrike left a comment on my blog–visited her to find her mentioning this…GREAT POST. Agree. Agree. Agree.

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