Hurrah for Christmas Cheer
The University of Minnesota’s dreams of an undefeated football season came crashing to earth with its pre-Thanksgiving loss to Iowa (followed by another loss to Wisconsin).
Still, I know my father—a 1947 Minnesota grad—would have enjoyed the media
attention generated this fall by the Golden Gophers.
But with Christmas less than a week away, more relevant than football is the holiday
theme that led off Sports Illustrated’s recent profile of Minnesota’s coach, P.J. Fleck.
The story began with a note about the Christmas tree adorning Fleck’s office, a tree
festively decorated with Minnesota maroon ornaments and blinking lights.
“Goes up the day after Halloween,” Fleck told SI writer Pat Forde (who I met once at a University of Kentucky basketball media day).
“I am a sucker for Christmas,” Fleck went on. “If everyone could act all year the way they act at Christmas, the world would be so much better.”
A hearty “amen” to that.
A Political Football
In a decades-long trend that has gone too far, the politically-correct crowd has turned
Christmas into an object of scorn.
Any public mention of Christmas has become fodder for lawsuits, cries of insensitivity
for merely uttering the word, and subtle directives to substitute “holiday” for “Christmas.”
When the mayor of a neighboring city tried to do the latter this year with the annual
Christmas parade, a public outcry forced her to quickly relent.
Which I think reflects the sentiment of many folks, including me.
It’s not that I’m insensitive to those who aren’t of the Christian faith.
My Jewish college roommate, a friend since sixth grade, has talked about being made to
feel like an outsider during the Christmas season when he was growing up.
That’s one reason we send him a “Happy Hanukkah” card this time of year.
However, the not-so-subtle attempts to censor all mentions of Christmas from the public
square are based on historically inaccurate arguments and downright insensitive on the anti-
Christmas critics’ part.
They have gone too far. It’s no wonder it has sparked such a backlash.
In his story, Forde commented that the world is divided into two camps: 1) those who
enjoy Christmas for two or three weeks a year, and 2) those who want it to last forever.
Or, as he put it, relative cynics and cornball sentimentalists.
“You know which camp Coach Cornball is in,” Forde wrote. “Over-the-top Christmas
cheer is on-brand messaging for the irrepressible elf of college football.
“His entire life’s work is built on spawning belief in accomplishing the impossible then
delivering it—producing holiday miracles, if you will, regardless of what the calendar says.”
I see them in things like our church recently packing 157 shoeboxes for
Operation Christmas Child, a number about twice our average Sunday attendance.
The value of these shoeboxes became clear during a first-hand appearance in our area in
That’s when the African recipient of a box during his childhood years ago drove up from Nashville, where he is enrolled in seminary.
He shared with the audience the long-term perspective how that box brought supplies that enabled him to attend school and dramatically changed his life.
Support for Christmas
There is so much more.
As much as it may upset the anti-Christmas crowd, there is no
other holiday that generates more good cheer, gift-giving, and help for the less fortunate.
It is an occasion that deserves support, not condemnation. It’s not just Minnesota’s
newly-winning ways that merit a shout-out for P.J. Fleck. It’s his enthusiasm for Christmas.