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Christmas hypocrisy

Lead Summary
By Jim Thompson
HCP columnist

You may think this to be a bah-humbug column…sorry. Likely, by the time you read this in print, Christmas will be over. The older I get, the more disgusted I get with the hypocrisy of modern (read last 200-plus years), secular Christmas celebrations (same thing applies to Easter).

I must hasten to say, however, the celebrations I criticize also go on in my own home. I have been unable to fight off the secularism of Christmas when it comes to grandchildren raised other ways in their own homes.

Same way in our churches. I once went to a church in Cincinnati where the pastor would not allow Christmas trees, citing them as an object of pagan heritage. Our current church now has a huge “winter fest” celebration on the lawn, the excuse being it brings in our unchurched neighbors who might eventually become attenders and see the truth of the Gospel.

Maybe that works, but do you see the irony in that last sentence?

This “winter fest” celebration rivals Disney World. I’ll hasten to say ours is a financially rich church and uses its resources wisely around the world in solid mission work. It is just this one little irritant of which I speak.

Our federal government, of course, is a secular body. However, the state department issues a list each year of the countries that display a lack of religious freedom.

Perhaps it should not issue such a list, for by doing so, it plays favorites. This year’s list, as chronicled in an article in The HCP ( last week, for the second year in a row, skips Nigeria. Nigeria is the most dangerous place on earth to be a Christian. Yet, while it was on such a list in the last administration, it is not on the list now, again, for the second year in a row. Why?

Secular Christmas is full of lies and engenders feelings of jealousy and hate. How can I talk to a child of an age to comprehend the good news about a true savior when I have just spent years perpetrating a lie about a fictional, kind and generous old man?

“Well, I was just kidding then, but now, this is serious stuff.” Really? Is there any wonder we have adults all around us who are not Christians?

This secular Christmas (and Easter) creeped into our modern world full blast along with modern merchandising in the late 1800s. I am sure that at first the attitude was, what can it hurt? But by the end of World War II, having come through the Depression and the war, parents with a few coins in their pockets decided their kids were going to have it better than they did. And, hence, the stack of packages under the tree got higher and higher.

Born in 1950, I lived through this. And, when we moved from the city to the farm where cash became scarcer, I experienced years with many fewer packages. When you have encouraged gluttony in a child and take it away before they are mature, it hurts.

As I have gotten older, perhaps wiser, I see secular Christmas for what it is – gluttony (I must mention there is a special group of people near Sugar Tree Ridge who have helped pull these scales from my eyes – thank you). I have gotten to thinking more about what it means to have little and focus more on the true meaning of Christmas. I have looked at my behavior and adjusted, perhaps not enough, but I like to think I am moving in the right direction.

One change I have made this year. I know folks want to give family members presents for Christmas, even if they are poor. In our household, we save a pile of clothes and so forth all year to give to Goodwill at the end of the year. I am embarrassed by the size of this pile, and it is just from Laura and me. I am embarrassed for my frame of reference is my high school years when I got two shirts, two pairs of jeans every fall to get me through the coming school year. The pile we discard every year now would have gotten me through high school and all the way through a Ph.D. and post-doctorate fellowship at the rate of clothes procurement I experienced back then.

OK, Jim, what is the change? We used to haul this pile off to Goodwill on nearly the last day of the year, after Christmas, so we could get the tax deduction. A secular and unfeeling act. I got myself in motion this year, logged all this stuff (for the tax deduction), and took it to Goodwill on Dec. 5. A tiny gesture, but I hope it helped some folks to have a gift who might not have had one otherwise.

Gifts are Biblical. The Wise Men brought three gifts to Jesus. I have read these passages many times. I have looked hard. There was not a PlayStation, Xbox or bicycle among those gifts.

Jim Thompson, formerly of Marshall, is a graduate of Hillsboro High School and the University of Cincinnati. He resides in Duluth, Ga. and is a columnist for The Highland County Press. He may be reached at

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