Similarly, a Clayton’s Christmas is a Christmas celebration you have where you don’t mention the word Christmas. We see many examples of it in government, retail environments and advertising, where we end up with greetings such as “Seasons Greetings” or “Happy Holidays” rather than “Merry Christmas”, and “Holiday Tree” rather than “Christmas Tree”.
It is easy enough for Christians to be offended. After all, it is the intent of some to marginalise Christmas and those that celebrate its true message. Such political correctness gets tiring.
Yet, perhaps there is room for empathy. There are many unbelievers in our community, and others who have been hurt badly by Christians or churches acting badly in the name of God, who choose to have nothing to do with God or his people. We can safely assume that many of us will have them as family members or friends and they will be at one of our gatherings this Christmas. What does it mean to be Christ-like in these moments?
When Jesus called us to lay down our lives for others (John 15:13), he encouraged us to think of others first, so perhaps defending God means letting go of our “Merry Christmas” so that we respect and care for those we invite to “holiday” lunch.
Yet, at the same time, belief in a secular world will always be discomfiting for some. Why should we shy away from saying “Merry Christmas”? After all, throughout history many have found Jesus and his birth offensive. Even on the first Christmas, King Herod ordered the slaughter of every male child under the age of two because he was fearful of this Jewish boy born in a feed trough (Matthew 2:13-18). Christmas may always remain offensive for some.
Perhaps both approaches are correct. At times our celebrations may be offensive, yet, in the same way that there are times when a non-alcoholic drink is more than appropriate, a Clayton’s Christmas may well reflect the love of God. It is not about being politically correct, but sensitive, wise and caring.
In either situation it is not about winning the “Christmas wars” but about love. Sometimes losing is the best way ahead. Isn’t that what Christmas reminds us? This child we celebrate ultimately died on a Roman cross in great humiliation and defeat. Yet, in hindsight, it was God’s greatest victory.
So as we consider Christmas this year, perhaps a Clayton’s Christmas is worth considering.
Stephen L Baxter