I Will GIVE You a War on Christmas

Posted: November 17, 2009 in Christmas, crotchety ranting, Jeff Holland, religion, shitheads, Threat Quality
Tags: , , ,

Dear people who are going to boycott GAP because it isn’t Christmassy enough:

Okay. Fine. I tried to ignore you. But you just won’t have it, will you? You people want a war on Christmas? I WILL GIVE YOU A GODDAMN WAR ON CHRISTMAS.

You fired the first shot, by making sure I heard “Feliz Navidad” piped through the speakers at Kohl’s on NOVEMBER 8. That’s right. You call it a war on Christmas, but over here on the other side of the fight, we call it the War on Keeping My Fucking Sanity For Just One More Damn Month. And you have claimed a valuable chunk of territory, called the Pre-Thanksgiving-November-Strait.

And now, despite this clear win, you’ve decided that The Gap is firing their secular rocket launchers by not mentioning Christmas enough in their advertising (which, please note, has also invaded my territory a few weeks ahead of schedule).

Not that they HAVEN’T mentioned it. They mention it FIRST in their cheerleading list of holidays the American public should start shopping for. But apparently you are upset that it isn’t featured prominently (or singularly?) in ads for sister stores Old Navy and Banana Republic (and sure, I could see getting upset that the Navy doesn’t mention Christmas, but who knows what holidays they celebrate in the far-off land of the Banana Republic – something monkey-based, I’d imagine).

First off: WHY ARE YOU SO CONCERNED WITH THE CONTENT OF TV COMMERCIALS? Please, do us all a favor, boycotting Christians: get TiVo, or some other DVR device. You can slap pro-life bumper stickers and angel decals all over it for all I care. Just get one, and use it, to fast-forward past commercials while you watch “The Ghost Whisperer,” or whatever humorless Christians are allowed to watch. Gap commercials – indeed, ALL commercials – will cease to exist, and the world will become so much easier for you.

Secondly: Go to fucking Target or Wal-Mart or Amazon or any of the million places where they make a point of promoting Christmas specifically, if that’s so important to you. Go on a crazy-ass spending spree so insane that you might call it Ludicrismas, if not for the aforementioned lack of humor and the undeserved sense of persecution in your lives.

See, shopping there shows you support places that DO push Christmas over stores that go for a more pan-Holiday approach (and also, buying things at Christmas is more helpful to the economy than not). It’s called voting with your wallet – although I imagine getting voting wrapped up with Christmas would open some larger can of worms. But in doing so, you would stay out of my way, and I’d stay out of yours, and there could be some blessed peace around here.

But no. No no no. Instead you decided to Make a Thing Out of It: “[Gap’s campaign is] political correctness at best and religious bigotry at worst … The Gap is censoring the word Christmas, pure and simple.”

Religious bigotry. Really.

You. Stupid. Motherfuckers.

You know how pissed off you get when atheists and agnostics speak derisively about Christians? THIS IS WHAT THEY’RE TALKING ABOUT.

So instead of the path of least resistance, you are going to make a big show of your indignation at not being special enough. FINE. Let’s do this thing. If it’s up to me to balance the scales, let’s do it. You wanna get nuts? LET’S GET NUTS.

I will buy clothes EXCLUSIVELY at Old Navy for the duration of the holiday season. Clothes I don’t even NEED. I don’t care – Gap produces clothing I don’t have a problem with wearing, and at Old Navy, they sell it for prices I don’t mind (these are called “clearance” prices). It will send my own message to Gap stores: I don’t give a shit what you advertise, so long as you continue to ignore these war-on-Christmas dolts.

AND IT WILL PISS YOU PEOPLE OFF. Which is the point.

And after that, WE WILL BE EVEN. But if I hear any more of your WHINY SHIT about how Christ doesn’t get enough attention during the Christmas season FROM RETAIL STORES – by the way, if you want Christ to get attention at Christmas? Go to church on Christmas, and don’t be pricks to anyone in the meantime, as per his teachings – then I will step things up again. I will go goddamned nuclear. Sorry, did you not understand that? Here, let me put this in your parlance: I will go Nukular.

I see any more of these nonsense boycotts, and I will steal a Baby Jesus nativity doll from the first Baptist church I drive by, duct-tape it to the hood of my car, pour a gallon of ketchup into it, and ram it up against every “Keep the Christ in Christmas” bumper sticker I find until it looks like I hit a fucking plastic reindeer carcass.

You started this war, but I WILL FINISH IT.

And may God help us all.

  1. braak says:

    Seriously, Christmas guys. Do you feel like Jesus isn’t associated ENOUGH with merchandise and consumerism? That maybe he’s still just a little too holy, and needs to shill some ugly scarves made by child laborers in Miyanmar to make up for it?

    The Gap is a company that sells pants. They are completely unqualified to say anything about Jesus!

  2. Jeff Holland says:

    I think, if you read the bible closely, you’ll notice it takes a firm anti-pants stance (heh), by the way it says nothing about pants at all.

  3. Okay. I’ll start a war against both camps:

    1) the idiotic unBiblical so-called born-again Christians who take on the most inane battles instead of actually learning who Jesus is (heaven forbid they open the Bible, read and study it) and fighting the real battles (against sin in their own lives and to help others see the love of the One who Died)

    2) those who don’t identify with Christianity, but call us ALL idiots for believing what we do

    And, for the record, I am in SHOCK and DISMAY that I have to see holiday lights and hear schmalzy holiday/Christmas songs in NOVEMBER. Can’t we at least wait til after Thanskgiving?

  4. braak says:

    Listen, no one thinks you’re an idiot if you’re not an idiot. The post is clearly directed at people who are both Christian AND idiots. If you are not Waging the War for Christmas, then no one was talking about you. Relax.

  5. Jeff Holland says:

    Yeah, I thought I was being pretty specific to war-on-Christmas-ers.

  6. Moff says:

    Whoa. This was a Holland post?

  7. Erin says:

    I actually love the gaudy lights, decorations, and music. I love the holiday season, and I’m all for it starting on November 1st. That said, I realize just how insane that is, and certainly don’t begrudge those of you who are driven nuts by the whole thing.

    The real punchline, though, is that Christmas has very little to do with Jesus, who, based on a strict Biblical reading, was likely born in the fall or spring – and even that’s a stretch: really, there’s not a lot to go on.

    Mithras, a Persian sun god, was born on December 25: everyone’s celebrating the birthday of the WRONG SAVIOR. The tree, the lights, the holly, the ivy, the mistletoe… none of these are Christian, either. And, while Saint Nicholas was certainly Christian, Santa Claus is one part bishop to three parts Odin.

    The only popular decorations that are vaguely Christian are the star, the angels, and Candy Canes. And, I suppose, nativity scenes. I hate nativity scenes.

    But, God I love this holiday.

  8. braak:

    I hear you, but you can’t believe how often we are thrown in with the idiots! I just gets tired of it! I’ve been hearing it my whole life… The Christian faith is so often judged because of the idiots, not because of the One who started it.

  9. Josh says:

    On that note and for the record, I do actually think people who aren’t idiots are idiots. I’m just being extra-careful.

  10. Jeff Holland says:

    @Holiday: As long as you don’t start feeling persecuted because the Gap Holiday Dancers haven’t performed a cheer devoted only to the baby Jesus, you go ahead and do whatever you want this season, with my compliments.

    AFTER Thanksgiving.

  11. Jeff Holland says:


  12. Tad says:

    Don’t you hate pants!?

    I did have to verify that there was a Holland tag after reading this, it was only maybe a Comcast taunt or two away from being pure Braak.

  13. braak says:

    It’s all the caps, I think.

    Man, wait until you guys hear how that Comcast thing went. Heheh.

  14. Jeff Holland says:


  15. Moff says:

    It is absolutely all the caps.

  16. Moff says:

    (Well, and the rage.)

  17. Dave says:

    The italics help. They denote gritted teeth and a pulsing vein in Holland’s temple.

  18. Carl says:

    Not to throw cold water on what was an admittedly glorious firebrand of a rant, but I suspect that you, Mr. Holland, and the War-on-Christmasers might have this in common: opposition to the commoditization of the intrinsically valuable.

    I bet the WOCers are pissed at companies hocking Christmas for the same reason you’re pissed (making wild presumptions about your worldview and politics, that is) at Wal-Mart for driving mom and pop stores out of business, or at record companies destroying the music industry by only signing and hyping plastic pop-acts, or, in a real stretch of an analogy, at the purveyors of young poor teenage girls in the international sex trade. All represent the reduction of the intrinsically valuable to a commodity.

    Their pissed because their holiest of holy days– something that is supposed to have intrinsic meaning– the season that commemorates the beginning of the process of the salvation of humanity– has been broadly reduced to a transparently capitalist, crass, commercial enterprise. The Market doesn’t give a crap about Jesus, it just wants to sell me pants. And in all fairness to The Market, that’s what The Market is supposed to do. It just so happens to be trying to sell me pants in a country that was once uniformly Christian (and still remains nominally, unenthusiastically Christian), and so lots of people happen to buying pants at this time of year when Christians in a capitalist country celebrate by doing what capitalists of all denominations do— buying pants. At the same time, of course, it ain’t a Christian country anymore and non-Christians buy pants too. And companies don’t want to limit the pants-pitch only to actual Christians and nominal Christians, but they want to reach out to former Christians, Christians in name only, agnostics who descended from Christians, atheists who keep Christian holidays because the banks still close, Jews for Jesus, Jews for Judiasm, and anyone looking for a cheap pair of slacks. So the middle path is ho-ho-ho, trees and snowflakes, no Jesus, buy our pants. And that pisses the WOCers off because, you know, are you trying to sell me Christmas pants or are you just trying to sell me pants? The answer, of course, is that they’re just trying to sell you pants, WOC guy. And that what you take to be intrinsically valuable— the holy day— isn’t intrinsically valuable to much of the population anymore.

    But the substitution of commercial value for spiritual or intrinsic value IS perverse. Course, as usual, the Christians have only themselves to blame for this development (both because they acquiesced to the transformation of the holiday into a gigantic, pervasive, shopping leviathan AND because they are responsible in the way they conduct themselves for the decline in the numbers of Christians who would be disposed to treat the holiday with seriousness. Double-whammy, WOCers.) However, I have to agree that trying to boycott your way into re-sanctifying Christmas is a stupid course of action. Speaking as a Christian who tries to take the holiday seriously, I kind of want it back. I say, let the ACLU sue Christmas out of the public square. And then The Market can peddle Solstice-Pants and then, maybe, Christians can focus on putting the Christ back into Christmas itself instead of expending energy trying to get him into Christmas Pants.

  19. Moff says:

    @Carl: I dunno, man. I know some Christians feel that way (I do!), but it seems like the “The Gap hates Christmas!!!11” crowd is really asking for more commoditization of the holiday — I mean, they’re upset because the ads aren’t Christmassy enough. I think a lot of them are just pissed that the Christmastides they remember from years past don’t prevail in many parts of the country anymore.

  20. Carl says:

    @Moff: Maybe. My instinct is to say that they aren’t thinking about the distinction between one aspect of public culture and another. They aren’t identifying advertisements with “just trying to sell stuff”, they’re identifying it with “hocking a point of view on the decline of Christianity.” Namely, “sign us up for that” which is admittedly an unsophisticated lens to be looking at culture through. Christianity is in decline generally but then, there’s Christmas, largely free of Christ-y content, still hanging around, being propped up for exclusively commercial purposes.

  21. Jeff Holland says:

    Solstice-pants are like hypercolor shirts, right?

  22. Moff says:

    @Carl: Hmmm. Also maybe, but you’re attributing a rather nuanced and consistent frame of thought to a crowd I typically associate with Bill O’Reilly.

  23. Carl says:

    @Moff: Yeah. You win.

  24. Moff says:

    @Carl: (And what a depressing victory it is.)

  25. V.I.P. Referee says:

    Maybe they’re still resentful over the fact that “The Gap” stopped carrying ankle-length prairie dresses and denim overalls in the 90’s.

    Why don’t they go caroling this year, instead? Or volunteer somewhere that perpetuates what they’ve claimed to be solely Christian values? Or buy food at stores they believe in and donate that food to a local soup kitchen? Bypass the industry all together and make quilts for elderly people who are struggling to heat their homes? They have other options besides hatred and destruction. Where’s the old-school way of being Christian, where you took valuables from “evil doings” and funneled those things toward “good”? They’ve lost their edge. Now they just seem crazy.

  26. Hsiang says:

    I’m going to the courtyard of the Temple right now and yell at those stupid money-changers for not putting up any wreathes or pictures of caribou.

    And I WILL NOT WEAR PANTS! I believe a utili-kilt and nose ring is the appropriate holiday costume of weird, ranty agnostics.

  27. V.I.P. Referee says:

    I know what you’re saying, Carl and that’s why I side with Moff on this; by releasing the statement of an official boycott, they’re telling Christian people that they must depend upon the secular world to define God and Christian tradition for them. It’s like saying to The Gap: “We can’t do this without your support, so we’re going to punish you for not leading us in our Christmas traditions!”

    It would be a different situation, if some advertisement was designed to blatantly insult views classically from realm of Christianity (which is sort of an amalgamous lump of Christian perspectives; Catholic, Angelican, Baptist, Episcopalian, Fundamentalist–each group interpreting the bible in it’s own way, with respective sets of rules to live by. Who knows which perspective The AFA is ever representing. And, of course, only Christians care about family. That’s the convenience of egocentrism and ambiguity). Honestly, I think this is more a “war” on GODLESS Chinese people. ‘Cause Look! There’s an Asian guy at the head of that dance groove! He’s probably GODLESS! Who cares if peddling to an international Asian market has, for the first time ever in U.S. advertising history, given Asian-Americans visuals in advertisements they can actually identify with. They don’t count.

  28. V.I.P. Referee says:

    When shall we declare our festive day of pantslessness?

  29. Moff says:

    Can we agree, though, that SOMEONE needs to do something about the godless Chinese people? Or at least do something about Hsiang?

  30. braak says:

    @Carl: Hey man, my family’s been celebrating Christmas continually since my parents both thumbed their noses at the Church. You guys have lost that fight. There is not now anything intrinsically valuable about Christmas. Sorry.

    Since the Church pilfered the holiday in the first place, I’m not sure what the big deal is. There was never anything intrinsically valuable about the day. It’s just a day, chosen from amongst of variety of days based on how many converts this particular date might get, and chocked up with as many arbitrary symbols as will fit in it. The day is not meaningful. You’re no closer to Jesus on the 25th then you are on November the 16th, whatever man.

    What’s meaningful is your relationship with Jesus. Could you use Christmas to inform that relationship? Sure. You could use Flag Day to do it, too, because your relationship with Jesus and God and the Church is something that happens with you, not with the calendar.

    The Christians who are opposed to the Gap not talking enough about Christmas–it should be noted–are also fierce evangelicals. These are the sort of people for whom it is not enough to simply believe and attend; they also have to convert. And, God bless them, they see everything as a possible opportunity for selling Jesus to the heathens–Gap commercials included. Because they don’t draw any distinction between being Christian and advertising their Christianity, they feel that every step taken in which the amount of advertising Christianity is reduced is a direct attack on their faith.

    Which is what gives them the absurd idea that their religion is persecuted in a nation in which 70% of the population is Christian, and 95% of the legislature is Christian.

  31. braak says:

    Also: I have been wearing nothing but a bathrobe for the last three weeks. I don’t even know where my pants ARE, anymore.

  32. V.I.P. Referee says:

    Carl – If the AFA is so concerned with secular advertising, they must be aware that consistently releasing official statements of anger and indignation hurts the Christian brand (from a secular point of view). Maybe they could encourage Christian people to buy items within these stores that they belive best represents Christmas tradition. Then, buyers would see an increase in the purchasing of such items and tailor the brand accordingly. By casting-off brands all together for every potential slight, the only statement the AFA makes is one of irrationality and isolation. It detracts from their power, rather than strengthens it; they’re end-up being seen as flighty and too difficult to please.

  33. Tad says:

    yeah, my family is pretty non-religious, but we still celebrate Christmas. Even godless heathens like getting presents.

  34. Hsiang says:

    @ Moff: Without us the Jews wouldn’t have any restaurants to go to on Christmas.

  35. OH, I am so sorry. I was recently at a blog where an athiest was exceedingly nasty and belligerent towards me.

    I carried over my sensitivity to this blog.

    Having read your many and varied comments, I realize that my tone was completely wrong.

    Please forgive and I’ll attempt to ramp up the sarcastic humor next time.

    Yours for idoicy,

  36. Carl says:

    I just want to point out that if you re-read what I initially posted you’ll see that I wasn’t actually disagreeing with Hollanc. A boycott of companies that don’t ‘Jesus’ hard enough at Christmas is not a way to get your holiday back. I just wanted to point out that I detected a thematic commonality between two disparate groups. And I hadn’t peeked at the link when I initially posted. I’ve never heard of the AFA before tonight and have no interest in defending them. They sound like nuts.

    @VIP: I agree entirely. (Moreover, if you have a festival of pantslessness to protest their protestations you can count me in.)

    @Braak: As far as who should and should not celebrate Christmas and why, it’s entirely up to the individual to celebrate whatever they want, as far as I’m concerned. I may say “I sort of feel like I want it back” but that’s just how I feel. Its not a policy proposal. The ‘you people leave our special holiday alone’ battle isn’t a hill I have any interest in dying on. But there is something to be noted about the fact that we’re increasingly growing into a healthy, heterogeneous, multi-cultural society in which the Christian tradition as the assumed paradigm has moved to the background to make way for a multiplicity of coexistent traditions. In this multi-cultural society, it is almost always the case that the small groups that comprise it have very strong ownership over their own traditions and identities— they sort of keep that for themselves. I don’t celebrate Kwanza. Not on my own with just my family. It would be weird if I did. And it would be weird if I were making assertions to black people about what it ought to be and what it ought not to be. Because it doesn’t belong to me. Any more than Ramadan does. Anymore than Arbor Day belongs to the logging company execs. Its just an odd dynamic.

    I agree with the statement that “what is meaningful is your relationship with Christ” and, no, you’re not “closer to Jesus on the 25th than you are on November 16th” but I disagree that the holiday (not the date itself, which was what we pilfered, but what the celebration honors) is not intrinsically valuable— IF, of course, you buy into the narrative of which it’s a part. You know, if you believe that God became a human being than the remembrance by human beings of that event has intrinsic value because the event has intrinsic value. Absolute value, in fact. You know, cause that’s what human beings do. Things happen that impact human beings and then we attach meaning to those impacts and then we structure culture around those meanings.

  37. Jeff Holland says:

    @Holiday Longing – No harm done. Come back anytime.

    @Carl – Yeah, I was all set to have to debate your points, but after reading a couple times all I could think was, “Nope, we seem to be more or less on the same page here.” So I went for a funny jokey joke instead!

  38. Amanda says:

    For the record I just want to say that I love love love every aspect of this blog.

    @VIP Ref and his call for pantlessness day: Improv Everywhere has already done this several times 😉

  39. […] Shared: I Will GIVE You a War on Christmas […]

  40. braak says:

    @Longing: I’m glad that you feel that way, actually; it’s true that I am myself an atheist, and that Holland is generally neutral on the subject of religion, but we do try our best here at Threat Quality to insure that when the subject of religion comes up, we are able to treat it in a nuanced way despite our personal predilections.

    And, seriously, the AFA guys are…a little on the intense side, to say the least. (And, generally, not representative of all Christians.)

    @Carl: I disagree–and this will seem like maybe a semantic distinction, but I think it’s important–that the intrinsic value of the event is necessarily concomitant with the intrinsic value of the holiday. That is, if you believe in the event, and that it has intrinsic value, fine okay. And therefore the remembrance of that event does, indeed, have intrinsic value. However, the holiday is not the remembrance of the event. The remembrance of the event is an act that you, as an individual, undertake, and it exists independent of your circumstances. At best, the holiday is a gentle social pressure to remember the event. At worst, I suppose, it’s actually a kind of crutch in terms of your spiritual development.

    But, ultimately, the holiday itself only has relative value. The event changed the moral order of the universe; the remembrance of the event influences the moral character of the individual. The holiday is just a day that we’ve marked on our calendars to remind us to actually engage in that remembrance. It’s value exists only relative to how badly you need that reminder–if you’ve been remembering Christ every day of the week, or if you’ve personally decided that you’ll remember Christ on the third Tuesday of every March, then the mark on the calendar has no value at all.

    Christmas itself is not intrinsically valuable; it’s just an arbitrary arrangement of labels. So, I guess I agree in principal, just disagree that there is any practical reason for this to be relevant to any human being at all. So, Christmas is your day, so what? It could just as easily be 4:20 every Wednesday. If you were really serious about loving Jesus, you’d be learning how to pray with every heartbeat, anyway, like in The Cloud of Unknowing.

  41. V.I.P. Referee says:

    Well, then: I’m starting a letter-writing campaign to “Improv Everywhere”. There is no way I’ll allow them to stake a sole claim on “Pantslessness Day”!

    @ Carl: Seriously, though. “Where’s the love?” Isn’t that what holidays are meant to be about, anyway? Special days set aside for reflection, reminding us of those reasons to actually appreciate humanity, for? All the other days of the year, we focus on how we’re destroying something, hoarding or overconsuming something else, killing someone or fighting. What’s a handful of days intended to celebrate goodness? All of this publically self-rightous nitpicking, on the part of AFA, just cheapens the holidays. One of my most sentimental Christmas ornaments is one that was made with paste, pipe-cleaners and felt, by my little brother when he was in elementary school. Every bulb in a “Crate & Barrel” catalogue couldn’t replace it and I’m not bent on punishing them for not producing items that could. In my eyes, they could never win that contest, even if they tried.

    You’re right: The supporters of this boycott appear to be looking to preserve some lost ideal, some sentimental memory of Christmas that they see slipping away before their eyes. But the fix they want won’t be found in department stores and malls. It’s about doing, not buying; celebrating in an almost non-commercial way, socializing in a way that isn’t tied to mass consumption. Making the buying of things, only a small part of a holiday.

  42. Jeff Holland says:

    So then we’re all in agreement: We will all buy clothes at Old Navy, Tivo Banana Republic commercials (seriously, a free beer to the first person who can actually SPOT a Banana Republic commercial), and, as per Chris Hsiang’s recommendation, we will put together these very intriguing utili-kilts. I imagine they will be quite comfortable.

    AND, for the record, my family celebrates Christmas, too. I like the holiday. It means delicious food, copious amounts of wine, and presents both given and received. Who couldn’t get on board with that?

    I just don’t need it to last longer than a week.

  43. braak says:

    Hahah. I forgot we had a “shitheads” tag.

  44. V.I.P. Referee says:

    I already have my utili-kilt. The rest of you are just poseurs.

  45. Lisa says:

    Thank you. From the bottom of my heart (which believes in Him and CANNOT STAND the pushers) I cannot thank you enough. All of you, for this wonderful discussion.

    My husband thought I was a little too enraged at the fact that they took down Halloween decorations on the 29th of October and replaced them with Christmas decorations.

    After next Thursday – bring on the season – but before then – LET ME ENJOY THANKSGIVING!!!! And for that matter – my favorite holiday, Halloween. Don’t ruin my Halloween with Christmas trees!

    Keep an eye out for December 23rd when they start rolling out the Valentine’s Day chocolates!

  46. Amanda says:

    Yea, why would anyone want to eat a two-month old chocolate????

    For all of these reasons I refuse to listen to Christmas music before Thanksgiving Day. In fact, this makes it a special, exciting moment – making the meal even more profound – as we are able to hear Christmas carols for the first time and really feel like that is the start of the season 🙂

  47. braak says:

    Am watching 30 Rock, Season 2. Disappointed to discover that Holland did not coin the term “Ludachristmas.”

  48. Jeff Holland says:

    Me too, buddy. But not as disappointed as I am to know I’ll never be able to write “Werewolf Barmitzva.”

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