In this Christmas Season, as we celebrate Family, the gift of life and the majesty of its
creation — it’s fitting to reflect for a moment on the history of the season and that of the
Nation which affords us the right and the freedom to celebrate it as we see fit.
We are a nation of more than 330 million individuals, diverse in our make up and in our
beliefs. Here’s a seasonal example of differing beliefs cited by Everett Piper in a newspaper
opinion piece last weekend.
On Dec. 23, 2015, a passenger was tossed off a plane at New York’s La Guardia Airport
because of his reaction to an airline worker who wished him, shame for shame, a “Merry
As the story goes, this traveler was waiting to board the plane when the gate agent
welcomed everyone with the traditional season’s greeting. The offended passenger
responded by shouting, “You shouldn’t say that. Not everyone celebrates Christmas.”
Well, once seated inside, our Mr. Scrooge was greeted by another American Airlines
employee who was apparently oblivious to the earlier exchange. This time, it was a flight
attendant who made the same unforgivable error of wishing Ebenezer a “Merry Christmas.”
And that was the last straw. “Don’t say Merry Christmas,” raged Jack Frost before launching
into a tirade whereby he presumed to lecture the attendants, the pilot and all others within
earshot about their festive faux pas.
Refusing to calm down, he continued his tirade. The end result was that he was escorted off
the plane as his audience of fellow passengers burst into cheers and applause at his
While this story may seem humorous because of its absurdity, we need to think about its
serious side for a moment.
Consider, for example, the man’s premise that Christmas, i.e., the historicity of the birth of
Christianity, is an offense and that this malcontent, and presumably millions of others like
him, would be better off without it.
Our first reaction to this claim should be to ask a basic question. What would the world look
like today if it weren’t for Christmas? In other words, what would life be like if our grumpy
traveler had his way and the “ideas and acts [of Christmas had not been] hurled across the
centuries and around the world” (Thomas Cahill); some 2000 years ago?
Whether you’re a believer in the theology of Christmas or simply an open-minded historian,
you have to confess to the impact of the holiday’s sociology and cosmology on western
civilization. The fact of the matter is that the story of the birth of Christ has dramatically
changed humanity’s understanding of life and the way we live it. From Saul of Tarsus to
Emperor Constantine, to Wesley, Wilberforce and Whitfield; to Chesterton and Lewis,
millions of lives have been turned from deception and debauchery to compassion and love
because of Christmas.
History tells us that the Greek and Roman cultures stopped the practice of “exposure,”
otherwise known as infanticide, because of Christmas. The Celtics, Prussians, Aztecs and
Mayans abandoned human sacrifice because of Christmas. Sexual fidelity and respect for
marriage were normalized in the Roman Empire and throughout the West because of
Christmas. Women were no longer considered mere property and chattel because of
Christmas. Compassion for the sick and the dying during the great plagues of Europe took
place because of Christmas. Charity for the poor and the elderly became expected during
the Industrial Revolution because of Christmas. Hospitals, orphanages, child labor laws,
education, economic freedom, the dignity of labor, civil rights, private property and racial
equality all were established and promoted because of Christmas. Slavery was abolished,
and the sanctity of all human life was celebrated because of Christmas.
Christmas changed the world. We are told in Matthew 1:21 that “His name shall be called
Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins,” and a brief look back at history tells us
that this is so true! Christmas not only saves us from our personal sins, but the “ideas and
acts” of Christmas have saved us from the sins of untold others who before the birth of
Christ would have ignored us, used us, oppressed us, enslaved us or even killed us in the
halls of their governments and on the altars of their gods.
With Piper’s thoughts as prologue, let’s reflect for a moment about our nation which was
formed based on Christian values. . .honor, courage, commitment, industry, integrity,
individual responsibility, accountability, humility, collegiality. . .and so many more. These
values gave rise to the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution.
The Declaration did three things: gave birth to the Idea of America; created the nation
state to support, protect and defend that Idea; and to this day it provides the example of
commitment that enables the Idea to survive and thrive.
The Idea of America is that all men are created equal and are endowed with inalienable
rights: to life itself; to the liberty to choose one’s path in life according to our interests,
talents, skills and abilities; and to pursue happiness by making a meaningful contribution to
our community as reflected in the first objective in . . .
The Preamble to the Constitution which outlines the power behind and the purpose of
the Nation. The power of our government comes from “We, the People;” initially our
forbears, who ordained the Constitution in order to:
•Create a More Perfect Union;
•Ensure Domestic Tranquility;
•Provide for the Common Defense;
•Promote the General Welfare; and to
•Secure the Blessings of Liberty to us and to our Posterity.
We now wear the mantle worn by our founders; and we bear their responsibilities. As
citizens, we are to fulfill the “all in” commitment they exemplified when, in their closing
statement in the Declaration of Independence they pledged to one another their lives, their
fortunes and their sacred honor.
They were “all in”. They exemplified Honor, Courage and the Commitment to see our Nation
succeed and survive. We must do that, too.
In your bags is an ornament (ed. pictured below) reminding us that “We the People;” sustain
the Idea of America through our character, and we have the responsibility to live in a way
that keeps it alive, nourishes it and passes it along to the next generation. . .in order that
Americans will be Forever Free.
We live in challenging times. It is my prayer that we find the courage to do the proper
things to follow in our Founders’ footsteps so that we do remain forever free, strong,
independent, resilient citizens of the greatest Nation on earth.
As we celebrate the birth of Christ from whom so much good stems, may your ornament call
your attention to the benefits we enjoy as citizens, the fact that they stem from Christianity,
and that we each have duties we must fulfill every day.
© Copyright 2021 D. A. Richwine