Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Let's Keep Christ in X-Mas

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I'm a sucker for real wood furniture! What does that have to do with Christ and X-mas, er, Christmas? Well, let me explain.

There has been a movement afoot, fired by indignation, that was more prominent in the past, to protest the use of "X-Mas"in holiday advertising. Since there was cash money involved, most advertisers learned pretty quickly and either went back to "Christmas" or a more generic "Happy Holidays". But, what was the origin of the kerfluffle? what prompted the use of X-mas instead of Christmas? Where did it come from?

The answer to that lies intertwined with those little plastic "fish" and bumper stickers that some Christians put on their cars. During a time of persecution, early Christians would use the sign of the fish to communicate, the Greek word for fish, "ichthus", was an acronym for "Jesus Christ, God's Son, Savior." The Greek letter Chi looks remarkably like our "X". That represented "Christ".

Meanwhile, back to wood furniture. I was on my way to church one day, when I came across a beautiful old oak bookcase for sale, at a house along the way. It showed signs of neglect. Its shelves showed signs of having stored more paint than books in recent times, but I felt it had real potential.

A nice couple sold me the bookcase, and we chatted a bit afterward. I mentioned that I was on my way to church. The church was just down the block, and they thought they had seen me pass by their house a number of times. (I was driving my old classic '55 Chevy. The lady asked me if I'd be interested in some books that belonged to her father, who had been a pastor in Sweden. She gave me a number of volumes of Spurgeon's Sermons.

It was in reading through these volumes, that I noticed the pastor had written notes in the margins, in pencil, and on more than one occasion, he referred to Christians as "X-ians".

Since then, I haven't been upset to see Christmas abbreviated to X-mas. (Actually, as a protestant, I have more objection to the "mas" than the "X". )

But I put up with Frosty and Rudolph and Santa and Little Drummer Boys, Grandmothers run over by reindeer and all the commercialization lamented by the late, great Stan Freberg's classic Green Christmas (below), in hope than some might discover a meaning of giving that goes beyond merely exchanging stuff and calculating what to give, in order to maintain parity with what you expect to receive. In hope that "peace on earth, good will towards men", might become more than just a Hallmark moment, but evidence of the effect of transcendent love given to men.

Merry X-Mas!
(Oh, and you can still give me stuff!) Heh.

Update: A short auditory tutorial for those under 40: The last twenty seconds of "Green Christmas" contains two sound effects that might not be familiar to you. The first sound is a bell from an old fashioned cash register. Whenever someone says "Cha ching", that's the sound they're mimicking. The last sound is that of coins being dropped into the drawer of said cash register and the drawer closing.

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