We can visit the “Christmas” issue with some objectivity. It’s a problematic term. Many people resent it. Even Christians (the advantaged party) have their doubts. Non-Christians certainly do. This is not an issue that’s going away. Every year’s end, it gets a little worse.
My suggestion: Get rid of “Christmas.” Christ is not universally worshipped. Even by Christians, the mass of Christ is not especially well or scrupulously celebrated. Christmas turns out to be a religious disappointment and a cultural provocation.
I’m not suggesting that we celebrate nothing. The ritual cycle of contemporary culture needs a door stopper, an event at the end of the year to which everything runs up and ends, that the cycle may start again.
We don’t have far to look. Built into the event is a profane counterpart to Christ called Santa. A little polishing and promotion and we have our substitute.
For most everyone, Santa’s the man, a figure of reckless good humor and vast, unrelenting generosity.
Call it “Santamass.” Make it celebratory. We get to keep the parties, decorations, trees, gifts and celebration. But now it’s interdominational and ecumenical. Once more, we’re all in the same boat.
I know some people will argue that Santa is too commercial, too much associated with Coca-Cola and other brands. There’s a simple way to fix this. Let’s call the holiday “Santa Massive,” where “massive” stands for whopping great party.
The real question is whether we can master that Islands accent that wicks “massive” upwards at the end. And with Santamass(ive) that’s really all we have to worry about.
Hey presto, a end-of-year holiday without discomfort or ambivalence. (And people say anthropologist don’t really make themselves useful!)