I remember the first time I ever saw the term Xmas. I was just a kid. It was a week or so before Christmas and my brother and I had gone to spend the night with an older sister, her husband, and their young son. On a large mirror in the living room of their home, written in white shoe polish, were the words ‘Merry Xmas!’ I was confused.Of course, I knew well the words Merry Christmas. But what was this ‘Xmas’ word? After puzzling over the subject for a few minutes, I conjured up the nerve to ask my sister about it. ‘Oh, that’s just how everybody spells Christmas now,’ she said.’Hmm,’ I thought. ‘Not at our house.’I also remember the first time I discovered the real meaning behind the term Xmas. It was a couple years after the night at my sister’s home. I heard someone say that people who wrote or said ‘Xmas’ were trying to take Christ out of Christmas. The explanation they gave was that people who don’t believe in Jesus Christ want all references to Christ eliminated from everyday American life, so much so, that they encourage the use of the term Xmas in place of Christmas.Even though I was still a kid, with a kid’s eye view of the world, I had a clear sense that this was wrong. Try as I might, I could not reconcile why people would want to diminish my religious views when I was doing nothing to diminish theirs. For several years in my youth I lived next door to a Jewish family. They never said anything against Christmas. When I was very young I also knew an Indian family. They never said anything bad about Christmas either. During that time I also knew a Japanese family ‘“ and I never heard any of them utter a single negative word about or against Christmas.So who were these people attempting to take Christ out of Christmas? I never really figured that out. Some, like my sister, were well-meaning and had no hidden agenda (she stopped using Xmas shortly thereafter). As I got older, I wondered if I had the wrong idea about Xmas. Was the term truly the result of a concerted effort by non-Christians to reduce or eliminate the influence of Christianity in Americans’ daily lives?Eventually, I realized that it didn’t matter. Whether Xmas arose from a conspiracy to diminish Christianity or simply as convenient shorthand in our fast-paced, modern world, the bottom line for Christians, at least, is that Xmas shouldn’t be utilized, accepted, or even acknowledged.Instead, Christians should strive to put Christ back in Xmas in both practice and spirit. In practice is easy ‘“ use only Christmas in your communications (cards, emails, etc.); avoid patronizing businesses that use Xmas in their products and/or advertising; and encourage other Christians to do the same.Putting Christ back in Xmas in spirit is more challenging but vastly more important. Remembering the ‘reason for the season’ is a good first step. That is, paying less attention to the commercial aspects of the Christmas holidays and, instead, focusing on family and togetherness, and living the notion that it is ‘better to give than to receive.’ In fact, Jesus both preached and lived a life of service and, therefore, in honor of His message, we should endeavor to do the same.And all Christians should remember that it is the duty of Christians to protect and promote the message of Christmas. After all, if we don’t do it, who will? In both practice and spirit, every Christian should undertake the challenge to put Christ back into Xmas. Merry Christmas.
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