Face it: The war on Christmas is lost.
When did it end? Well, there won't be any official declaration of surrender from churches, so it's hard to pin down. There will be no C.E. Day (Christmas Ends.) But, in my mind, the war was decided this year. This year almost every major department story put up its red-and-green decorations the day after Halloween; most marketers had expunged references to the Christian feast in their generic ads; "Cyber Monday" became a definitive addition to the lexicon as one more day to consume, and several years had passed since "Black Friday" became not simply a day to shop for bargains, but a time when Americans expect stories of shoppers being trampled (sometimes to death) at 4 a.m.
This was also the year when many Christians I know, who still celebrate the Birth of Christ, began to dread the season, to the point where they asked themselves an uncomfortable question: Is the one day that is still (more or less) reserved for religion (Dec. 25) worth the two months that precede it?
Anyway, after years of battles, the war has ended. Madison Avenue has annexed the valuable territory between Halloween and New Year's Day. BBD&O, take a bow. J. Walter Thompson, step into the winner's circle. DDB, congrats.
Now, if you're not Christian, you might say "So what?" But if you are, you might notice some sad results.
For one thing, many Christians (and non-Christians) now feel completely overwhelmed with the demands of the consumerist holiday. Not news, you say? Well, the difference now is that the pressure to buy, decorate, spend, send, mail, bake, prepare, party and plan, which used to be confined to ads for a few weeks after Thanksgiving is now a two-month bacchanal in newspapers, television, radio, your mailbox, your smart phone, your email, and on the web. Anything digital (and what is not these days?) is an opportunity for an ad placement. The push to buy is everywhere and anytime. What has changed is the omnipresence of the consumerist offensive.
One of the war's hidden casualties has been the ability of religious people to resist the commercialism and keep the day holy. The one who decides not to engage in an orgy of gift-giving, who eschews two months of bargain hunting, may feel like a spoilsport. You're not buying gifts? You're not sending cards? You're skipping parties? Scrooge.
What's a Christian to do? Time to start working in the underground movement.