The Grinch List

by Jimmy Akin

in Liturgical Year

I’ve had a number of requests for lists of stores that are and aren’t honoring the holidayChristmas season by calling it "Christmas."

Now I’ve found one!

Concerned Women for America has developed a list of stores that are honoring the Christmas spirit by referring to Christmas–as well as stores that are hypocritically trying to get your Christmas money out of your Christmas pocket without ackowledging the Christmas that you are celebrating.

In other words: The Politically Correct Commercializers.

My own philosophy is that if any business wants my Christmas dollars then they can darn well ackowledge that they ARE Christmas dollars–either by sending me a CHRISMAS catalogue or by wishing me "Merry CHRISTMAS" or what have you.

But none of this "Holiday catalogue" or "Happy holidays" crud.

Any business going that route will get NONE of my Christmas dollars.

And, since boycotts are no good unless you tell the person THAT and WHY they’re being boycotted, I plan on telling such business that’s what I’m doing.

I, for one, refuse to sit by and allow Christmas to be banished from public consciousness and be added to the social "taboo" list the way that Christian concepts have in so many areas in our society.

As bad as the commercialization of Christmas is (something we must also all fight), having it vanish from our culture in a fit of political correctness is not acceptable.


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arthur December 12, 2005 at 11:36 am

As a Jew I find nothing wrong with “Happy Holidays” or “Holiday Sales”. After all our major gift giving holiday, Hannukah, generally falls at this time of year. (Though the fact that we give gifts at Hannukah has more to do with the modern influence of the commercial Christmas than anything else. But I digress) Conversely, I am not offended by “Merry Christmas” either. Nor are most of my friends and relations either. Sure, we’d prefer to be greeted with a “Happy Hannukah” or “Happy Holidays” or even “Seasons Greetings”, but we are all secure enough in our faith to recognize that a “Merry Christmas” is a genuine greeting in the spirit of the season and accept it as such and not some secret attempt at proselyzation.
That said, I’ve also got to say, that I think “Holiday Trees” and “Holiday Ornaments” have got to be the stupidest most PC idea I have ever heard! The Christmas tree is not part of my religious/cultural background, nor is it any other (excepting maybe neo-paganism, and let’s not go there right now), so let’s just call it what it is and get over it.

Realist December 12, 2005 at 11:44 am

Maybe we should just say “Happy Thanksgiving” on all of our holydays and holidays? That way no one is offended ane we also capture the spirit of the events.

TSO December 12, 2005 at 11:55 am

The local stripjoint, whose clientele is presumably not primarily composed of devout Christians, advertises a VIP Christmas (not holiday) party. While, ironically, retailers whose clientele is mostly Christian refer to “holiday” things.
It seems purveyers of porn desire the imprimatur of respectability, while the respectable desire the imprimatur of hip secularity.

suzanne December 12, 2005 at 12:18 pm

Please correct me if I am wrong, but wasn’t ‘Happy Holidays’ used in reference to mean the holy days that Catholics and possibly other Christians celebrate–i.e., the Immaculate Conception, Christmas, Epiphany, etc.? I know that stores certainly don’t intend for ‘Happy Holidays’ to mean the holy days in question, but I was curious about the term and where it came from.

Bart December 12, 2005 at 2:07 pm

Remember though, that some sales are better off without the connection to the Christ Mass. Tagging a power drill ad with “Christmas Sale” is not what the season is about either. But the “Holiday Tree” thing is hilarious!

Bill Q December 12, 2005 at 2:13 pm

Actually, I believe Target can now be moved to the “somewhat nice/somewhat naughty” list, per this article:
On the other hand, I haven’t heard any change in their ban on Salvation Army bell-ringers.
BTW, why aren’t any toy stores on any of the three lists?

Anonymous December 12, 2005 at 2:15 pm

No toy stores or book stores. But who needs to go to a book store when we have Catholic Answers? 😉

Danielle December 12, 2005 at 2:35 pm

Maybe I’m not being fussy enough, but I actually don’t have a problem with “Happy Holidays.” As Suzanne points out, there are many “holy days” this time of year, most of which are Christian, but some of which are not. Besides, I like to recognize Advent first, so hearing “Merry Christmas” before December 25 just doesn’t feel right anyway (and we all know that for retailers the “Christmas” season ends abruptly at dusk on December 24).

Edward Curtis December 12, 2005 at 2:37 pm

We had an in-depth discussion about the Salvation Army bell-ringers on another forum where I participate. Basically it came down to, the SA was an exception to Target’s no-solicitation policy, and giving them the boot was an effort by Target to be consistent with their policy.
And anyway, the Salvation Army is not just a charity – it’s a Protestant denomination. As a Catholic, I’d much rather give my money to a Catholic organization that does the same work.

BillyHW December 12, 2005 at 2:40 pm

Maybe we should just say “Happy Thanksgiving” on all of our holydays and holidays? That way no one is offended ane we also capture the spirit of the events.
I know people who are offended by Thanksgiving.

Liz December 12, 2005 at 3:27 pm

Offended by Thanksgiving? Why????

Rosemarie December 12, 2005 at 4:27 pm

Some American Indians are offended by Thanksgiving (incidentally, I read somewhere that most of them are not offended by the term “American Indian” which is why I wrote that instead of “Native Americans”).
Anyway, earlier today I went to the local Evangelical book store to buy a Christmas poster for my door that says “Jesus is the Reason for the Season”. I may not always feel perfectly comfortable at that store (they sell some anti-Catholic James White titles and such), but it sure was sweeeeeeeeeet to hear the cashier there say “Merry Christmas” before I left. No wimpy PC “Happy Holidays” there! It felt so good to say “Merry Christmas” with absolutely no worry of offending thin-skinned people.
In Jesu et Maria,

Gene Branaman December 12, 2005 at 5:05 pm

I posted this in another thread recently but it applies here, too.
The above URL is to a CUNY study that found the following percentages of the US population to be true in 2001:
Christian: 79.8% (Catholic: 25%, other Christian: 54%)
Jewish: 1.4%
Muslim: .6%
Buddhist: .5%
Hindu: .4%
Non-religious/Athiest/Agnostic: 15%
We simply do not live in a multi-cultural nation. We are 80% Christian. In light of that, why do Christians put up with being marginalized at Christmas? (Or Easter . . . or any other time?)
I am in no way saying we should marginalize people of other faiths or use this information to *darn the torpedoes* & say “Merry Christmas” to everyone. If I know a person is not Christian, I’ll certainly say “Happy Holidays” to them. If I know for certain that the person is Jewish, I’ll wish them a “Happy Hanukkah”. If I know someone is a JW, I’ll say “have a great long weekend” or something.
But, given the fact that virtually 80% of the population of the USA are Christians who observe Christmas, I see no reason to say “Happy Holidays” as a general rule. I’d much rather say “Merry Christmas” & be corrected than miss an opportunity to wish a fellow believer my warmest regards of the season!

CatholicDefender December 12, 2005 at 7:38 pm

Speaking of Thanksgiving, it is actually a Catholic tradition. It was begun in the present state of New Mexico around 1530-60. and thereafter celebrated each year.

Fr. Stephanos, O.S.B. December 12, 2005 at 7:38 pm

This Sunday, the San Diego newspaper had three full pages of advertisment by Ralph’s grocery store. The first page of the ad was devoted entirely to items that Jews would buy for Hanukkah. It also provided the addresses of local stores in the chain that had a Kosher department. The ad proclaimed, “Happy Hanukkah”. The other two pages were selling things that Christians might buy to celebrate Christmas. However, there was not so much as a “Happy Holidays”–let alone “Merry Christmas” on any of these pages.

Anonymous December 12, 2005 at 7:39 pm

Me, I say happy holidays because I’m lazy and don’t want to say “Merry Christmas and a happy new year.” You save 5 syllables.

CatholicDefender December 12, 2005 at 7:43 pm

The Christmas tree is a innovation from the 1700’s. Santa Klauz is a 19 century invention. Both came from post reformation England/ Europe.
We do a large Nativity scene on the top of our home. No tree, no presents and no parties.
Christmas is about one thing, the birth of the Messiah.

RyanHerr December 12, 2005 at 8:05 pm

I never thought I’d find myself agreeing with CatholicDefender, but … I question Santa Claus too. I don’t like the aspect of lying to kids, and then later letting them in on the truth that Santa Claus is symbolically real but not literally real. I’m afraid that adolescents will make the same jump in their faith … turning God into a metaphor and a morality at best. Thoughts?

StubbleSpark December 12, 2005 at 8:06 pm

Gene: “If I know someone is a JW, I’ll say ‘have a great long weekend’ or something.”
HA! I laughed so hard my brie almost came shooting out my nose!
I’m using “Christ’s mass” and “holy days” instead of the massacred modern English.
VIVA Maria!

Mary December 12, 2005 at 8:40 pm

Nicholas of Myra was — and is — perfectly real.

CatholicDefender December 13, 2005 at 12:15 am

The average family spends between $2,000 and $4,000 during the Christmas season for many items
they really do not need. And for what ?
What if that money was saved? or given to poor people ? or to a priest who is deserving, or given to a Catholic school for use by the teachers ?
What a difference it would make.

Realist December 13, 2005 at 6:30 am

Dear Defender,
The $2000-$4000 we spend for X-mas gifts provides for a lot of jobs and keeps a lot of people from becoming poor. It also eliminates the “charity-type” bureaucratic middlepersons. Our Sunday contributions directly keeps our parish priests and school in the “black”.

Sean S. December 13, 2005 at 7:11 am

So…Catholic Defender, you don’t think the birth of Christ is worth celebrating? That’s why people have parties, give gifts, etc. To celebrate the second greatest event in the history of the world. At least, that’s why my family does it.
And I don’t really see why it’s wrong to practice generosity to family and friends…

bill912 December 13, 2005 at 7:43 am

I just e-mailed a bunch of the companies on the Grinch List and told them why they won’t get my Christmas dollars unless they do a quick about-face. I’m looking forward to their stock responses; i.e.: “We don’t want to offend anybody(except Christians)”; “We favor diversity (except Christianity)”; and “We’re sorry you feel that way (We’re sorry you’re the way you are).”

CatholicDefender December 13, 2005 at 8:13 am

The birth of Jesus is a magnificent time of the year.
News reports say most folks gain 5-8 pounds from the holiday festivities.
My practice during Advent, is to increase my visits to the Blessed Sacrament and use this season as a time to promote a more devout life, as opposed to what is popular.
Personally, I see no reason for giving someone a gift at Christmas. A card is fine. Money to a poor person is better.
As to spending $4,000, the issue is what is going to do more good; spend $4,000 at Wal mart or Target or Land’s End ( which in my opinion is helping to support the underpaid laborers in third world countries) or give the $4,000 to a priest, or poor families in need of food, or shelter.
We know the purchase of food is supporting
a farmer or local business.
The Walmart profits go to Walmart shareholders. I hold that firms which pay a substandard wage to their employees in the United States should not be given such carte blache support.
I recognize this is not entirely the fault of Walmart since treaties like NAFTA and GATT encourage firms to more out of the USA and set up plants in third world countries. I just prefer to do what I can to support as many American workers, and unions, as possible.
When the unions in this country, which are quickly being dismantled and made obsolete
are gone, America’s standard of living will likely decline precipitiously.
The Catholic Church has always promoted the idea that employers should not pay a minimum wage, or a living wage, but a JUST wage.

Tim J. December 13, 2005 at 8:59 am

“My practice during Advent, is to increase my visits to the Blessed Sacrament and use this season as a time to promote a more devout life, as opposed to what is popular.”
All very commendable, CD, but I want to point out that one could do all that in addition to participating in the popular celebrations. The two are not mutually exclusive.
Sure, some people go overboard with the presents and partying. We can’t do anything about that. But I don’t see anything especially virtuous in NOT giving gifts or celebrating with friends. It’s a great time to give good Catholic books!
My favorite aspects of the typical American holiday have always been the lights, the decorations, the smells, the music… just the whole atmosphere… all tied to very fond memories of my childhood.
If we are careful to put Christ at the center of our hearts, these other traditions can do us no harm. We might even find in them many opportunities to demonstrate true Christian charity to those around us.
“…And therefore, uncle, though it has never put a scrap of gold or silver in my pocket, I believe that it has done me good, and will do me good; and I say, God bless it!”

bill912 December 13, 2005 at 9:17 am

Early in the 13th Century, Christmas fell on a Friday, when Catholics were forbidden to eat meat on any Friday of the year. The Franciscans were preparing for a very spare Christmas meal. When St. Francis heard of this he said: “Smear the walls with meat!” I’m with St. Francis. We, above all, know we’ve REALLY got something to celebrate. JOY to the World!

CatholicDefender December 13, 2005 at 10:40 am

I have a few issues with ” the parties “.
First, many are gatherings where a large number of the people are not even believers. My apostate sister, for example, who hates Jesus, hates the word Catholic and thinks religion is for those who have nothing better to do, is never shy about a holiday party to celebrate the season. Just don’t dare mention a word about the
Christ child.
I personally do not try to talk religion to hard core Jesus haters, as they have made their deal with whomever. Jeus never pushed belief on anyone.
Second, I find parties are a distraction for children, ( during this time of the year) who see it as a time to eat candy and drink pop.
Of course, I am raising devout Catholic children. When my fifth grader wrote about the many ways Catholics could receive a Plenary Indulgence, he assumed his Catholic teacher, at a Catholic School, where the children go to a Catholic Mass each week knew all about Plenary Indulgences.
He was wrong. She had never even heard the term and had to ask him what it was.
My eighth grader was named Theologian of the Week at a Catholic summer camp, and presently serves as altar boy for three different rites.

Michael December 13, 2005 at 1:55 pm

We simply do not live in a multi-cultural nation. We are 80% Christian. In light of that, why do Christians put up with being marginalized at Christmas? (Or Easter . . . or any other time?)
Honestly, in what way are Christians being marginalized by Target? Are they not selling any Christmas decorations? Last time I checked they had angel ornaments. If you can think of another use for those, let me know. Are you really being marginalized by the fact that your cashier says “Happy Holidays” instead of “Merry Christmas”? Renaming a Christmas tree a Holiday tree is stupid; but having a Holiday Party instead of Christmas Party? Is it really all that threatening? There are legitimate reasons for Christians to be upset with an overly secular society. This particular fight is simply petty.

Gene Branaman December 13, 2005 at 2:03 pm

“Personally, I see no reason for giving someone a gift at Christmas”
That’s a great choice for you, CD.
Me? I give gifts at Christmas because:
1) In giving gifts at Christmas we image God the Father Who gave us His only Son.
2) We sacrifice by spending time & money on gifts for others when we could be selfish & keep use those things for ourselves.
In giving gifts I don’t go overboard but I work very, very hard to give thoughtful gifts that match the person I’m giving it to & not just buying something for the sake of buying something. And I limit my spending to the around the same amount for everyone (usually $20-$25 – it’s amazing what really great things one can find for that amount!) It’s not about how much was spent, it’s about the act of selfless giving itself, in the image of God, that matters. And, as Tim J says, such gift-giving can be used to encourage & support the faith of our loved ones? CD, did you ever think of giving your “apostate” sister some good, Christian reading material? I’m not talkin’ apologetics, either. Maybe a novel by Flannery O’Conner? Maybe ‘Til We Have Faces or something like that? Something that would speak to her need for Christ in a non-confrontational way? Christmas gift-giving can be so very much more than that *must-have* new toy for the kids or a tennis bracelet for mom or another tie for dad.
Christ Himself said there would be poor always. We are called to help them throughout the year, not just at Christmas. But there is no dichotomy, IMO, between helping the poor & giving gifts at Christmas, if it’s all done in the image of God. And I see no problem with decorating & being festive, whether it’s for parties or not. What’s wrong with believers coming together to celebrate the Christmas season? There’s no need to get plastered at these functions, is there? I used to get together with a group of friends for *Reindeer Games* & we’d play Pictionary, Trivial Pursuit, etc, & enjoy each other’s company. No need for alcohol or super-fancy treats.
When I was in college, I’d go carolling (very old & traditional ones we learned in a vocal class) with a group of 8-10 from the music department to houses of friends. Giving our time to bring joy & beauty in to other folk’s homes was one of the best feelings I’ve ever had. You can do the same for nursing facilities, too. Wherever it’s done, people appreciate it very much!
Why do away with parties & socializing? Sounds Puritain to me!

Catholicdefender December 13, 2005 at 3:35 pm

Catholic socializing and Catholic parties, I have no problem with. I avoid the more secular type of events.

Inocencio December 13, 2005 at 3:42 pm

I look at Advent as the time to proclaim the coming of the Christ Child.
We do that by trying to be extra helpful to our neighbors, sending out the most Catholic Christmas cards we can find, by buying gifts that reflect Christmas and wishing everyone a very Mary Christ Mass.
I look forward to giving gifts because it is the one time of year I can get Catholic things into my family’s, friends and neighbors homes (besides their own birthdays of course).
I know most people think of me as the crazy Catholic but they know that is what I do and they accept it.
At home our family builds a spiritual crib for the Christ Child together through daily prayers and small sacrifices.
As Catholics if we live our faith with joy people will see a reflection of God’s love and our love of God in our striving to be holy.
Blessed Feast of St. Lucy to everyone! J+M+J

Gene Branaman December 13, 2005 at 3:58 pm

Here’s another very interesting piece somewhat related to this thread:
The above URL is to an article about a recent Gallup poll that found that 94% of Americans believe in God. The poll found that: “Only 5% feel God ‘does not exist’ — and even most of them ‘are not sure’ of that. Exactly 1% are certain there is no God.”
“Catholic socializing and Catholic parties, I have no problem with. I avoid the more secular type of events.”
Why, CD? I see them as a possibility – wonderful opportunity to evangelize?

Sean S. December 13, 2005 at 4:15 pm

Jesus didn’t have a problem socializing with sinners…
Gene, I agree heartily with everything you said.

Kosh December 13, 2005 at 6:47 pm

And I agree with Sean. A secular event is nothing one should avoid though I in general do just because I don’t enjoy them very much.

CatholicDefender December 13, 2005 at 11:11 pm

Jesus socialized with sinners to the extent he called them to conversion.
Catholics who are learned in the faith should clearly target people for conversion. Those who do not know the faith very well, should refrain from such efforts.
The difficulty in converting folks today is due to the sexualization of our society in the past several years. So many people are addicted to the idols of pleasure or sins of impurity because of Cable TV, the internet, and the proliferation of one handed magazines that the thought of prayer and a focus on the Triune God, ( not ‘ my buddy Jesus ‘) is too high a price for most people.

Kosh December 14, 2005 at 4:38 am

CatholicDefender, plenty of saints would, I think, disagree with you. I think many of them did not see the need to minimize contact with non-believers.

CatholicDefender December 14, 2005 at 8:29 am

Let’s see what Saint Paul says:
1 Corr 5:8
Therefore let us feast, not with the old leaven, nor with the leaven of malice and wickedness: but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.
2 Corr 5:14
Bear not the yoke with unbelievers, for what participation hath justice with injustice? Or what fellowship hath light with darkness ?
1 Corr 5:9
I wrote to you in an epistle not to keep company with fornicators.
2 Tim 3:4-5
Lovers of pleasure, more than of God, having a appearance of godliness, but denying the power thereof. NOW THESE AVOID.
1 Thes 5:22
From all appearance of evil refrain yourself.
It is very clear the average catholic places their soul and salvation at great risk by stepping into areas , where the Scriptures clearly tell us we are not to venture.
The saints spent their time and effort helping the poor, the weak, the sick. They taught the young, and helped the old via hospitals and retirement homes. 75% of all hospitals in 1940 were run by Catholics. Let me emphasize these were NON PROFIT hospitals. ( Today the for- profit crowd is buying hospitals, and we see health care cost out of control. It will get worse, since Catholic hosptals are being bought out every hour every day.)
The saints did not evangelize in gambling parlors, saloons or such places. Nor will I.
The secular party circuit, in my opinion, is harmful to the devout Catholic, because by definition, such folks are more preoccupied with their pleasure than the idea or concept of pennace, which is where our thoughts and actions must be.
All Catholics should spend more time in prayer and pennace. And no time, in front of the TV.

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