Using writing, and meditation, and ice cream, and reading, and dreams,

and a whole lot of other tools to rediscover who I am,

after six years living with a man with OCPD.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

War of the Words - about Xmas

So, being a writer and a word geek, it won't surprise you to know that among the blogs I follow is The Hot Word on

I have a feeling the author of the piece knew full well s/he was setting a lit match to the lighter fluid of those passionate about religion, and defensive of their personal beliefs.
Learn the sacred, 1,000-year-old meaning of the “X”

Here's a holiday surprise that only the dictionary can provide. Do you find the word “Xmas,” as an abbreviation for Christmas, offensive? Many people do.
You won’t find Xmas in church songbooks or even on many greeting cards. Xmas is popularly associated with a trend towards materialism, and sometimes the target of people who decry the emergence of general “holiday” observance instead of particular cultural and religious ritual.

But the history of the word “Xmas” is actually more respectable — and fascinating — than you might suspect.

The great article goes on with a few more points about the history of "Xmas" and "Xpians" (Christians) going back centuries.  All true, easily verifiable, historical  stuff.

Now of course, the comments begin raging.

Some are polite, respectful, appreciative:  "Thanks for the information, this was something I did not know."

Some are dismissive: "That might be what it meant originally, but that's not what it means to me and my family now, so we're going to keep on spelling out Christmas."  As long as I don't have to teach my kids that Noah brought the dinosaurs on his Ark, I'm good with that.
So is this mouse? bear?  being disrespectful...
To Christmas?  To Santa?  To Discos?

Then there are those who are, apparently, Christian mindreaders: "when people use Xmas instead of Christmas I know they're not being respectful."  This is very much a PD (Personality Disorder) trait - assuming you know what someone else is thinking and that it's negative or harmful to you.

There are those who seem to be baiting the sincere but underinformed.  "As interesting as this is it still doesn’t get to the fact that the actual holiday that is celebrated has nothing to do with Christ or his birth. This day is all about Usurping a traditional seasonal day of another culture, for shame for shame."

And so, the back-and-forth sniping begins:  "You sir are an idiot! Christ is the only reason for Christmas!"

The pagans and history buffs attempt to educate (or is it put down?) the determinedly ignorant Christians, while a few Christians and non-Christians alike try gently to make peace:  "Please stop spreading hate. The holiday of Christmas is accepted by almost everyone nowadays as a double holiday, both Christian and pagan, both Christ and Santa Claus, both the manger and the tree. That’s the way it’s been for a long time now and it’s the way it’s likely to stay for many years to come, like it or leave it."

What stuck me about this word-fight is that most of the OCPDrs I have come to know and love seem to fall squarely into either the fervently religious or fervently atheistic camps.  Not a lot of agnostics.  Which makes sense, as part of this disorder is black-or-white splitting.  Shades of gray, shades of "maybe this is partly right, maybe that is partly right" doesn't fit into an OCPD worldview. 

Do Your Cookies Look Like This?  Mine Neither.
Image via SimplyClassicGiftBaskets
Do we have to have Order?  Isn't uncertainty and the unexpected what makes the season delightful?  Doesn't something go wrong, every single year, no matter how well you plan?  Maybe the tree (if you have a tree) is lopsided this year, or bald on one side.  Maybe you burn some of your cookies, or get stuck in an airport and end up in an interesting conversation with a stranger you'd never have met.  Maybe you can find the humor in being gifted with three copies of the same book that you had no interest in reading anyway.  Maybe the cat eats some curling ribbon and pukes.

IMO, another part of the beauty and joy of the Xmas season is celebrating the wonder of the possibly Divine, in whatever manner that brings peace and joy to you.  Repeating beloved family traditions, whether those consist of attending a midnight Mass, lighting a menorah, or sipping eggnog late one night watching National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation.  Or trying something totally new, with or without family and friends, just to see if you like it.

This year, b-f and I attended Merry Tuba Christmas, which we'd never done before - what a hoot that was!  (Great music, too - but the lady with the poinsettia hairclip is what makes this video special.)
(They did a couple Happy Tuba Hanukkah songs, too.)

Image via Karen's Whimsy

You may "believe in Jesus" and find the nativity story 100% credible, or not (frankly, I do not believe for one moment that any mother would put her precious newborn baby into an animals' feeding trough.)  Still, the miracle of birth, every human birth, is something both mystical and magical, something that connects the entire human race.  Some of us have children, some not, but we all had mothers, and all were newborn babies once. 

We don't have to know everything.  We don't have to explain everything, or prove (or disprove) everything.  We don't have to have Rules, or even rules, for everything.

Disclaimer:  I've been, at different times in the past, a fervent atheist and an evangelical, born-again Christian.  I've now taken a different path, and celebrate the season in a way which is meaningful to me.  I take no offense and am delighted if someone wishes me Seasons' Greetings, Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Blessed Solstice, Happy Kwanzaa, or Allah's Grace on Ramadan.  I feel it's unnecessary, and yes, rude, to deliver a religious lecture simply because someone dares to wish me well, in a manner that feels natural for them.  Warm wishes are warm wishes, IMO.  (And I wish YOU, dear reader, whichever of the above that you observe.)

Does an "inappropriate" greeting or the use of 'Xmas' make your blood boil? 
Do you get upset over minor things during the holiday season, and if so, how do you talk yourself back down? 
Leave a Comment and let me know.