Christmas Month – Let's hear some ideas.

It’s Christmas time in Hollis, Queens, mom’s cooking chicken and collard greens. And Alpharetta, Georgia too, but that RUN DMC line just wouldn’t have sounded the same with my own location thrown in.

Let’s talk holidays. Let’s throw around fun ideas like hating on the word “x-mas” and preschool Christmas plays where Clifford the big red dog gets saved at the end and gifts and all things merriment. Out of more than 445 posts, only a few have been dedicated to Christmas. We’ve got a gold mine of awesomeness to tap into. I re-posted the love letter to the crock pot to help you get started, because this is the season o’ crock pottery.

What Christmas ideas do you think should be celebrated on Stuff Christians Like this month?

P.S. Thanks for sharing your thoughts. You are funny and insightful and generous with your words.

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Comments

  1. Adam says

    Definitely how Christians think the saying “Happy Holidays” automatically makes someone a pagan. Also, the fact that our Christmas cards MUST include a Bible verse, or at least a silhouette of the nativity… anything less and our friends and family may think we have lost our salvation…

  2. tina says

    Well, you can’t forget the children’s christmas service as a hidden evangelism service. While that maybe our “intended” purpose. It really is to see our kids dressed up and have them act like a fool on stage.

    Another one is the family picture included in the Christmas card. Don’t forget the Christmas letter. Or the picture with the family pets.

  3. Anonymous says

    We do not sing Christmas carols during the season of Advent. Our pastor is very strict on that point. So the year my son was in third grade at the parish school, the annual grade 3-4 music concert fell perilously close the Christmas. But the music teachers stuck fast to the rule, and we were treated to a “Save Our Earth” concert instead.

  4. Kate says

    How about telling their kids that Santa isn’t real from the very beginning?

    That’s what my parents did. They always reminded us not to tell any of the other kids at school.

    That and canceling church when Christmas falls on a Sunday.

  5. The LaMotte's says

    I’ve seen a church have someone sign O Holy Night at a Christmas Eve service and Santa comes into the sanctuary. When the vocalist gets to “Fall on Your Knees,” Santa kneels before Jesus’ manger in front of the sanctuary. Nothing like really freaking a kid out on Christmas Eve. Mass hysteria.

  6. Darin says

    How about the awkward mistletoe put up in the youth group room? What are you supposed to do with that? You can’t kiss anyone, you’re in church! Why do youth group leaders torment the youth of the church and tease their hormones!

  7. Lisa C. says

    Living Christmas Trees. Definitely in the domain of the huge-mongous churches, but more than a bit weird. Others posted about how churches “have to” sing Christmas carols every Sunday. I take the opposite perspective: how about churches that seem to forget that Advent is a season, not a single day and refuse to make any mention of Christmas for more than one Sunday?

  8. JennyM says

    My dad is from the Middle East. ONE YEAR and ONE YEAR only!!! The church asked him to wear his beautiful traditional Arab attire (relax-his family have been Christians for centuries)and tell the Christmas story from the viewpoint of a Wiseman.
    He looked so strong and wonderful, and he sounded breathtaking!! Talking about how he came across the vast desert at night on his camel and how he and the other Wisemen knew to stay away from Herod. All in a warm Arabic accent. Oh man, I still can hear the silence in that room full of people. It was STUNNING!!! It was the best Children’s Pageant in the history of Christmas.

    My dad, “the Wiseman”.

  9. Dori says

    The guilt you feel when you walk by the 25th Salvation Army bell ringer of the day and have no change. There have been times when I’ve offered my first-born because I had nothing else to give! :)

  10. Lisa says

    Our local CCM station plays Christmas music from Thanksgiving until Christmas Day, at midnight. Only. We always laugh while we’re on the way home from our late-night family celebrations on Christmas night, so we get to hear “The Fish” switch off Christmas. Done and done!

  11. Will J says

    What about the joys of radio during December? Nothing but Christmas songs, all the time, non-stop sung by the very same artists that many Christians might refuse to listen to any other time of the year. Maybe another Hall of Fame idea?

  12. David Richardson says

    How many times pastors will say, “He is the reason for the season!” I think we can need to come up with a new phrase for sure. We’ve beat that one to death.

  13. Stacy from Louisville says

    I don’t know what Jon should write about exactly but I want everyone to know that my comments on SCL are the gift that keeps on giving. Just incase you were wondering.

  14. Suzanne says

    Having the pastor preach on how we shouldn’t buy into the commercialism of Christmas, spend less money this year, don’t take our kids to the mall to see Santa, etc. Then we have Santa come to church for the kids to sit on his knee and tell him everything they want for Christmas. Uh? I must have dozed off during the part of the sermon that said Santa at church is o.k.

  15. Anonymous says

    Maybe one about those families that are "Anti-Santa." Because "Santa" is just "Satan" with a few letters switched around. Santa takes the place of Jesus (i.e. "He sees you when you're sleeping, he knows if you've been bad or good")

    I know a few of them, and always cringe a little when my kid is around theirs & talking about what they want Santa to bring them for Christmas. Crazy, I know! I just feel that Christmas is what you make it. If you make the emphasis on Santa & gifts, then that's what it will be about. If you emphasize Jesus & his birth & what that means for us, all Santa is is just a little fun for the little ones. And they know what the REAL reason for Christmas is at the same time.

  16. faith says

    our church has instituted “sweater day” the Sunday before every Christmas. because we all need to be reminded to wear loud sweaters this time of year.

    this is a tradition that needs to quietly fade into the night. every time they announce it, my husband and I look at each other in angst, silently saying, “oh no, they’re not doing THAT again.” our church, God love it, looks like a bad SNL skit come sweater day.

  17. talley says

    i definitely should see something about how christians hate x-mas. “it’s taking the christ out of christmas!” -my mother. haha. i personally love it because a.] it makes people a little crazy until i tell them what it means, and b.] it’s so much more easier to text. especially if i do it in church [but sadly not on my iphone, as i only have an env].
    oh, and we christians also seem to hate target this time of year for only saying ‘happy holidays’ and not letting the salvation army stand outside the doors.

  18. katdish says

    How about a Christmas Horror Movie? Specifically, “Attack of the Life Sized Willow Tree Nativity Figurines”, starring Jon Acuff as the not-so-brave hero and Katdish as the evil head of the church decorating committee.

    (Mwhaa haa haa!)

  19. syro says

    i’m all about a post about X-mas… or C-mas as some would want to write as to not “X-out” Jesus from Christmas… but at the same time, there are folks who would say that “X” is just fine b/c it is the greek letter Chi, which of course, is the start of Christ. Oh, so much drama!!!

    Our church, when Christmas day falls on a Sunday, they encourage the whole family to come in their Pajamas! I liked tacky sweater sunday that another commenter mentioned.. maybe it would keep people from wearing them ALL MONTH LONG!!

  20. Dusty says

    How Christians love to boycott the stores that display “Happy Holidays” signs instead of “Merry Christmas.” Nothing like spewing hatred in the season that we use to remember the birth of the savior of the world that taught about love. Great job, Christians…great job. Uh-oh, I said “Happy Holidays” in this comment. I think Don Wildmon just put out a hit on me.

  21. Charlanne says

    Christian radio stations that won’t play Christmas songs that have “santa claus” in them…and I totally echo the “christmas shoes” comment! It seems masochistic to listen to that song…it always makes me cry, dang it.

  22. sonneta says

    (You may have to fight Stacy for these ideas… I gave them to her first).

    The Nativity controversy: Is it OK to put out the Baby Jesus with the rest of the scene? Or should your Jesus figurine only come out on Christmas, when we celebrate His birth?

    How holy is your Christmas Yard display? (Maybe you could give us a handy-dandy scoring guide).

    Alternative Christmas Markets- where you donate to charity instead of buying stuff

  23. Helen says

    I agree with Adam’s comment about “Happy Holidays” and want to add people who yell at the store clerk who says it when responding “Merry Christmas to you, too!” and a smile will usually get the same in return. Do we really aid a person in yearning for Christ when we are yelling at them for following company policy? They’ll break away from the script when we do, so let’s do it!

  24. mistymorningmountain says

    What about the nativity scene where Santa Claus is bowing down in front of Sweet Baby Jesus? What is that even supposed to mean? It’s kinda like the Calvin and Hobbs window decals where instead of peeing on the Ford or Chevy trademark, the little kid is kneeling in front of the cross.

    There’s nothing more holy than feeling like you one-upped the world!

  25. Darryl says

    Here’s a couple . . .

    The awkward moment at the Sunday School potluck Christmas social when it is obvious that not one bite has been taken from the dish brought by the most vocal person in the class?

    The church “Christmas Tree” — you know, the artificial one bought in 1975 from Big K that lists at a dangerous 70 degree angle, surrounded by empty boxes wrapped in paper from the 1980′s.

    Christmas neckties . . . ugh.

    Over-Achieving Christmas Celebrants — they decorate everything (including cars and pets), spend 83 hours serving the needy, decorate the church, plan the pageant, bake 47 dozen Christmas cookies as gifts, send hand-made Christmas cards, and host the SS Christmas party.

    Last suggestion — the Dirty Santa gift game or re-gifting at church functions.

    Look forward to seeing what you come up with!

  26. Mella DP says

    The fact that Advent is the one season when we of low church extraction go all liturgical. Even though we apparently have no idea what Advent is, since we usually put up the rest of the Christmas decorations at the same time as the Advent wreath.

  27. Jen S. says

    I saw a church sign once that said “Santa won’t save you from Hell!” Hee. I’m not sure what else to say about that but it’s so ridiculous I had to mention it.

    “Sweater Day”?? Really? That’s hilarious.

  28. Jon and Mollie says

    The ones that I think need to be addressed are:
    1. Christmas shoes….that song annoys me greatly.
    2. poinsettia’s- where are these red flowers hiding the rest of the year. My church has like 4203 of them.
    3. Christmas Radio. Pretty much the same 10 songs sung by 30 different people.
    4. 17 christmas eve services. the children’s service, the family service, the owner of foreign cars service, and of course the midnight dress in your most uncomfortable clothes service. at least there’s candles at that one.

    just a thought.

    word verification “Dossn”
    Dashing On the Sleigh of Saint Nick

  29. Catherine says

    1. Operation Christmas Child — What good Christian on his way to Heaven is not going to make a shoebox this year?

    2. Live Nativity Scenes. (This was probably first thought up by a youth pastor.)

    3. Christmas performances of children and youth choirs in the congregation.

    4. Doing “Secret Santa” within the youth group.

    5. White elephant gift exchanges in youth group.

    6. The controversy to have or not to have church on Christmas Day.

    7. Candlelight Christmas Eve Service: an excuse to burn sibling with hot wax.

    WV: Noshand: (v) to eat while multitasking other activities
    We are going to Jon’s house to noshand play board games.

  30. The OC Josh says

    What about how people always put wimpy stars or angels on the top of christmas trees? What about a statue of Michael The Archangel ready for battle or a super nova about to burst.

  31. Val, Mike and Brax says

    jon, i am just wondering what your thoughts on SANTA are. i would also like to hear how your devoted readers handle the santa vs. jesus dilemma. i have a one year old little boy, and i love the fun traditions that go along with santa, but i also want him to understand that the real star of this show we call christmas is JESUS. what do i do???

  32. Beth says

    How about…
    1. The annual “contest” for the holiest Christmas card? Followed closely by the folks who try to get everyone on their card list saved by reading their very holy Christmas card.

    2.Sappy Christmas songs designed to make you cry (Christmas Shoes, as already suggested, being the worst offender, but there are others).

    3. Arguing about whether Christmas trees (or any other decorations) are Christian or pagan.

    4. Christmas pageants that get more overdone each year until you have a production that rivals one done by George Lucas or Steven Spielberg.

    5. Churches that schedule lots of extra activities around Christmas time but keep reminding you to make room for the real “reason for the season”.

    6.The dreaded “secret Santa” gift exchange for the Sunday school kids. Made even more awkward when your church has families who are truly in need.

  33. Annie K says

    Are you serious? Satan and Santa being one in the same? And all this time… I fear what will happen if I play Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer backwards.

  34. Kevin and Amy says

    I haven’t read all the comments, but if someone hasn’t mentioned singing Silent Night in German yet (Stille Nacht, of course), then I would like to add that one. A methodist tradition.

    Also, that miserable song about Christmas shoes…the little boy’s mother is dying, etc. My car radio oozes with syrupy stickiness when that song comes on…it’s just so sappy.

    On a side note…has there been a post about whether to say “trespasses” or “debts” during the Lord’s Prayer? Or how if you say “trespasses” it sounds really weird when the entire church says all the “s”s together?

    Thanks for all you do to make this site amazing!

  35. Jen says

    Christmas letters written by pets and inanimate objects – the coffee pot, or the stuffed animal, for example.

    People who make homemade Christmas cards for the whole family, don’t finish them until March, and then convert them to Easter cards.

    Where do you display your Christmas cards so that everyone knows you got more than they did?

    Good Samaritans at the mall – the ones who are compelled to re-fold the rack of jeans other customers have destroyed – probably folding them the wrong way, but bound to do their good deed for the poor, harassed clerk.

  36. Rita says

    What about the Chrismon tree!? (The tree with only religious symbols on it.)

    Also feel the need to put “hatin’ on Christmas Shoes” on this listen. But that’s not just something that Christians like. I wonder if there’s anybody in the world who actually LIKES that song? It’s terrible?!

  37. Kelli says

    Definitely the Santa/Satan relationship, bratty children telling everyone that Santa isn’t real, boycotting companies for saying “Happy Holidays”, the creepy faceless Willow Tree nativity sets, and the megachurch Christmas spectaculars!

  38. Sherri says

    The special “Christmas Offering” to help those in need, that I guess is designed to meet ALL their needs ALL year long! Or they just happen to be “needier” at Christmas time.

    We then go home feeling really good about ouselves because our $5.00 helped feed an entire starving village for one day!

    Hopefully, the missionaries living amongst them can lead them in the sinners prayer that very day before the food runs out!

    (I’m being too sarcastic I know, but I hate this “Christmas season ONLY” giving). Come on- They have needs EVERYDAY!

  39. Amy Storms says

    1. Competition over Christmas attire–whose dress is more plaid?

    2. Singing carols faster to make them contemporary worship.

    3. The fire hazard of candlelight services.

    4. Competition of baked goods.–Upstaging everyone with homemade banana nut bread.

    5. As a pastor’s kid: obligatory church parties for every group you’re in. Staff party, elders and pastors party, youth group party, kids’ choir party, Wednesday night class party.

  40. E and B: We're married. We love each other lots. says

    I would like to see a post about Dirty Santa gifts at church Christmas parties. Does that even sound like a good idea??

    In 8th grade my best friend and I came up with a killer idea. We thought, what better than giving dirty underwear for our dirty santa gift! So, we took a pair of underwear and put makeup and other poop-looking substances in it. We were so excited. After it was opened, our youth leaders took us aside and chastised us for our bad idea. We took it in stride & thought it was totally worth it. Then after all the gifts had been passed and traded the 1 super-strict homeschool boy in the whole youth group got the undies. Oh NO!!! My parents (the pastor and worship leader) got the phone call the next day that we needed to have a meeting or "they were leaving the church". Oops :)

  41. E and B: We're married. We love each other lots. says

    Using flashlights instead of candles at the Christmas eve service because the fire marshall wouldn’t let you light that many candles.

  42. Jamie says

    How about trying to out-do all the other area churches by advertising the biggest and best Christmas production EVER with laser lights, smoke machines, and a “live” nativity with sheep that leave “gifts” on stage, if you know what I’m sayin… (true story)

  43. tim m says

    There’s nothing like being in a perpetual playoff town during Advent and looking at a congregation of (in our town) Roethlisberger jerseys. They also claim that the swaddling clothes was actually a Terrible Towel. This is probably why Jesus said pray that the 2nd coming doesn’t happen in the winter or on the Sabbath.

  44. Sarah says

    The fierce battle that ensues amongst the female youth and their parents over who plays Mother Mary in the Nativity play. Things get vicious. It’s the only time of year everyone’s parents WANT them to be the pregnant teen.

    Don’t worry, if you don’t get picked for the Virgin Mary, there’s always the angel Gabriel which has the added bonus of glittery wings that smell like the pre-school sunday schoolers (combination of glue, graham crackers and dirty diapers).

  45. LeLe says

    Oh, yes, the Chrismon Tree (Rita mentioned it). I didn’t know about this until I was an adult and I don’t know that I fully understand it even today.

    When I was in children’s choir, we had the same Mary and Joseph EVERY year until the kids got too old to do it. I was always a sheep or other animal (sitting behind a plywood cutout); one year one of the boys playing a donkey was sitting behind me and knocked his cutout over during the production. It was awesome.

    Did anyone ever watch “The Greatest Christmas Pageant Ever” or something like that? Where the homeless kids busted up in the church and took over the Christmas Pageant much to the detriment of the holier-than-thou beautiful girl who always played Mary? But it wturned out to be The. Best. Christmas. Pageant. Ever. I think that weird girl from Waterboy, Vicky Valencourt, was in it.

  46. MeLissa says

    Stand out moments during the holidays at my church:

    1. Every teenage girl vying for the coveted position of the angel who comes to Mary… this means wings and lots of body glitter which, while normally avoided, in this situation is highly relished.

    2. The crazy old lady who is responsible for decorating the church for Christmas. 8 different christmas trees with different themes and an intense plan for protecting the decorations from rambuctious middle school boys. Because nothing says what is REALLY important during the holidays than covering the whole church in breakables and then having meetings with the families of every child who touches a wreath.

    3. The plight of the youth group- kids are out of school and the youth minister is now on overload to distract them. Sometimes he inflicts pain on the rest of congregation by doing a progressive dinner… or worse, caroling. Each family has to endure 10-25 hormonal teenagers who are interested in anything but singing.

    Happy Holidays!

  47. ashleyr says

    I’m with Jamie on the big churches trying to outdo each other with their Christmas pageants – glad I wasn’t in the first few rows when the not-so-happy live animals had to come on stage.

    And white elephant gift parties. Not sure how to make that an SCL topic, but I’m tired of having to come up with a clever “fun” gift. Personally, I think recycling one of the trash gifts I got the year before is great fun.

    wv: daismsh – what the beautiful handful of daisies has turned into by the time a 3-year-old proudly hands them to his mother.

  48. MicahWilli says

    How about the Rockettes? Yeah the Radio City kind. I’ve heard a bunch of “Good Reviews” of their Christmas show because they have a manger scene with a REAL baby Jesus, and a REAL camel. So the obvious conclusion is that all of those high-kickin, fishnet-wearin Radio City Rockettes are born-again believers who a re just trying to spread the good news. You heard is here first folks.

  49. Helen says

    I never heard of “dirty Santa”. Do I want to know? Tell me if I do, please.

    I loooooved “The Christmas Shoes” the first 11 times I heard it. By time number 25….not so much.

    Val, Mike and Brax: Do you think it would be over simplifying to say that Santa is so happy about Jesus’s birth that he wants to give gifts to all children? He encourages you to be good because he loves Jesus and wants you to, too. I don’t know. I wasn’t blessed with children, and being Catholic, I think I would have leaned on St. Nicholas more than Santa Claus, then when other kids talk about reindeer and elves, suggested to mine “that is a fun story. I think it would be fun for you to pretend, too. Hmm…”

  50. Tim Burge says

    Those fake glow-in-the-dark candle things. I feel like I’m at a Pink Floyd concert. We need FLAME, people!

    WV: expalkad: That guy “friend” you dumped because he turned out to really want “more-than-friend” status.

  51. rhondadixon says

    -The multitude of objects Christians wear declaring ‘Jesus is the Reason for the Season.’ My mom used to rock the lapel pin. I’ve seen sweatshirts, Bible covers, bags, etc.

    -The awful ‘middle aged woman Christmas sweaters’ that get pulled out at church every year. They have more flair on them than all the waiters at Fridays combined. They are like walking musical murals made of wool.

    -How about making kids in church act out the nativity. I remember in preschool I was chosen to be Mary. I had to ride on the back of the poor kid who was the donkey. But, I’m sure it was soooooo cute!

    -Over the top church Christmas dramas designed to convince the non-attenders that the church was awesome. My church used to do the Living Christmas Tree. It would have about 3 plots going on at once (one for the kids, a ‘contemporary’ one for the non-church goers to have something to relate to, and the traditional Christian one). It would incorporate every Christian and secular Christmas song (start out with Frosty then work its way up to O Holy Night), act out the nativity with live animals then proceed to depict Jesus’ entire ministry in 20 minutes complete with the crucifiction, followed by an altar call, more Christmas music and even fake snow.

    People involved in the production were like the actors in “Waiting for Guffman;” they were convinced the drama was of Broadway caliber.

  52. Memphis says

    I’ll tell ya what I depise during the Christmas season. It’s that stupid game where your Sunday School class plays at parties. Everyone brings a gift (usually a silly gift noone really wants)and then you each get a number and pick a gift. If the person in the second spot likes a gift, they end up taking your gift and you have to pick another!

    I’d rather drink a gallon of egg nog than play that stupid game..still can;t remember the name of it.

  53. anna says

    what is with taking everything that is christmas related and turning it into a nativity scene? i have seen snowmen as mary, joseph, baby jesus, the wisemen and shepherds set up as a manger scene! what?! jesus is now a snowman?

  54. Alec says

    I can’t stand all the email forwards I get about how everything involved with Christmas is the result of some unknown, Christian tradition or story. The latest was the email about how the candy-cane was supposed to represent Jesus and was used as a secret identifier for persecuted Christians. Turned out not to be true.

    I think SCL should take current Christmas junk and come up with Christian legends for them. The tacky blow-ups people put in their yard were designed to represent how Christ’s love grows and is full of light, and Christmas wreaths are supposed to represent the crown of thorns (I am making that one up, but I am sure someone has forwarded it as an email out there somewhere).

  55. kate says

    true story: when my friend, L, was little, she believed in Santa, the Easter Bunny, and the tooth fairy. upon learning that Santa, wasn’t real, she asked about the Easter Bunny and the tooth fairy. After learning the truth, she said “well I guess Jesus isn’t real either.” Her parents quickly corrected her. She survived the letdown (and confusion), and has a strong faith today, and still likes to celebrate Christmas.

  56. Chanes says

    I think the level of Christian you are is judgement upon what tops your Christmas tree. Angel?, Cross?, Star?, Bow?

    What’s a girl to do?

  57. Caitlyn says

    this isn’t christmas related, but it’s on my brain: one of my friends insists that everyone call him Christopher. If you call him Chris, he will either ignore you or correct you. If you ask him why, he’ll say that “Chris” is Christ without the cross. Okay then.

    Also, in high school I decided that if X was short for “Christ” in “x-mas” then I could write Xian for Christian and X for Christ and I think I had a couple of others. Drove my classmates nuts (how dare I!) but it made note-taking simpler

    wv is “track” That’s a real word! No fair!

  58. Carin says

    What about the fact that I felt guilty buying Nutcracker Christmas stamps instead of ones with Mary and Sweet Baby Jesus on them?

  59. Darin says

    Another thing I forgot is the danger of candle light services on Christmas Eve…I lit a lady’s hair on fire when I was younger right next to our live tree while singing Joy to the World. It is a fantastic story. :)

  60. whenjeskasparks says

    @ Memphis- You’re right; Christians love giving real gifts to other people, but love giving crappy, white-elephant gifts to each other. It’s amazing.

    How about doing Christmas for needy families? Granted, when you’re eight it doesn’t seem nearly as magical and as heartwarming when you’re watching your toys get hauled off to some other family on the other side of town… but eventually you get older and that fuzzy feeling takes place. (most of the time. I’m still a greedy, selfish, jerk of a person even when I try hard.)

    Also:
    Christmas shoes does not make me cry; it makes me want to carve my eyeballs out with a rusty spoon. It’s quite possibly the worst, most over the top, force the emotions, seasonally oriented song I’ve ever come across. Yikes a pongoes.

    keep up the good work, Jon. i love your stuff.

  61. Jeff Smith says

    I haven’t read all of the above, but the ones I read are great – especially the one about mistletoe in the youth group. I’m a youth pastor, I’ve never done that, but it would be funny to see what my youth do with that one.

    I have one – Christians hating Santa. My bro-in-law is a youth pastor and he doesn’t do Santa… AT ALL. We can’t even wrap his kids stuff in santa paper. The funny thing is that Santa comes to his church the last Sunday before Christmas. Total torment… I think it’s funny. I love santa… even if you can rearrange his name and spell satan.

  62. Anonymous says

    Low point at last year’s youth holiday party…each teen was supposed to bring a gift they’d love to receive…
    last year’s offerings…
    1. rolling papers
    2. flask
    3. bra and panty set
    4. disposable breathalizer

    Our youth pastor decided that we’d not do that again this year…pitiful

  63. Chris and Jane says

    Ok, so surely I am not the only one whose church went on a extreme fundamentalist skid through most of the late ’80s and early ’90s where they rid themselves of the pagan symbols surrounding Christmas (e.g., the tree etc.) because having something like this in your house was paramount to keeping an Asherah pole. It was a really quick way to identify who was a good Christian and who was questionable.

  64. Kristen says

    Bake sale. Christmas style.

    I was honestly held captive in my teacher’s home, forced to make rhubarb pie after rhubarb pie for the Christmas bake sale. I still deal with a phobia of baked goods! lol.

    Of course, I also was subject to a Christian school education — which meant “Stuff Christians Like” kind of blew up in my life. All day. Every day.

    Not to mention the TWO WEEKS we rehearsed all day long for the Christmas paegant. Two weeks? Seriously? Where was all of the “learning” we needed to do? The month of December was like a free-for-all at my school; a Christian sweat shop if you will.

    Good times.

  65. pkillur says

    How about the hideous pastel colored christmas cards you get from aunt bertha each year? You know, the hideous ones that make precious moments look refined? They look like they’re manufactured by the same company that pumps out graphics of angels surrounding babies that people tell you to forward to 10 people for good luck.

  66. Pizza144 says

    Alec, I know exactly what you’re talking about. I’ve seen one that says the candy cane is an upside-down J for Jesus. I can’t remember anymore though.

  67. Alison says

    @Chanes and The OC Josh-
    I’m sure you know the most holy Christmas tree topper would be the worship eagle??

    Jon- my suggestion would be to create an SCL Christmas tree this year. You already have the topper…I’m picturing a rainbow string of Skittle garland with Willow Tree and VBS-glittered ornaments to start. And of course Hallmark should be able to help you out with all the pastor and Bible version action figures/superheroes. Surely that’s the kind of tree your wife wants this year! If not, I’m sure SFLcan help you out with it.

  68. Vanessa says

    I’m positive that I will be writing from a minority viewpoint, but how about addressing the mental turmoil of the Christians who grew up in churches that preached AGAINST celebrating Christmas as Christ’s birthday? It is based on the pretense that since we do not know when Christ’s actual day of birth was, then we shouldn’t make up a day to call his birthday. During this time of year, I always feel like the black sheep in the Christian family. Just today, I contemplated buying Christmas cards with a nativity scene on them for the sake of appearances. Is there anybody else out there who has this background?

  69. Anonymous says

    At our church, it is CHRISTmas. We just got our December bulletin, and I think it probably says CHRISTmas at least 50 times. It is now pronounced with that emphasis. I feel bad, but I can’t stand it!

    Also concur with those that don’t believe an overworked clerk who says “Happy Holidays” is participating in any sort of war on Christmas.

  70. Kimberly says

    forced gift giving -this drives me insane – come to the ladies bible study party and be sure to bring 1) a dish of some sort that doesn’t copy anyone else’s dish of some sort, and 2) a “small” gift to exchange… geez louise… a dish and a gift.. you’re pushing it ya know??? and a gift that doesn’t cost more than 5 bucks that someone would actually use and not re-gift to some other poor suspecting recipient the next year… isn’t it good enough to just get together and fellowship for pete’s sake?? must we recycle our junk too???

  71. Joel Clifford says

    How about the ‘non-christian carols’ like rudolf the Red Nosed Reindeer, Santa Claus is Coming to Town and Jingle Bells and how some people either dont sing them or insist on changing the words to make them more Christian??!!!

  72. kate says

    oh yeah, here’s something else:

    claymation movies and the Christmas season go hand in hand. Only at Christmas can claymation movies be played frequently. I saw one where they try to blend the tradition of Santa Claus, gift giving, and Jesus’ birth all into one.

    Bring on the cheese. What would a purely Christian claymation movie look like?

  73. heartafire says

    OK, here is my pet peeve about Christmas cards. Why does everyone compete to send the most beautiful bragtacular picture of themselves and/or their children. Especially if it “happens” to be taken while on a Very Special Vacation —the beach is OK, but better is Europe, the Grand Tetons or on a mission trip to South America.

    But the #1 thing is that it is an adorable photograph.

    What the heck does that have to do with wishing people joy in celebrating the birth of Christ?

    I am serious. I know I will catch a lot of grief for this complaint, but I loathe how “Christmas” cards are really just a photo collection. I would say we receive 9 picture cards for every regular Christmas card.

    Another thing that peeves me about Christmas cards is that it seems people would much rather send a “funny” (or should I say “punny”) greeting, than anything expressing a true sentiment reflecting the season.

    And don’t get me started on Christmas letters! Most of these are so bad…you can’t possibly want to tell all the people on your list the very same thing! But the biggest problem with them is that they’re just thinly veiled pride-fests. Yes, your son just graduated magna cum laude from Princeton, and Bob’s been promoted (again!), you’re going skiing after the holidays and you’re just filling the house up with the smells of Christmas baking cookies for the homeless…..but why don’t you tell us about the other daughter who just got out of rehab, or the reasons you don’t speak to your parents anymore, or the way your son totalled his 3rd car this year?

    Well, you’re right. Too much of a downer.
    BUT…it’s just as real as the other stuff.
    But it just doesn’t make you look as good.

    OK…that’s all I got for right now.

    Love, Scrooge

  74. heartafire says

    Val, Mike and Brax:

    I live in a neighborhood where EVERYONE decorates BIG for Christmas. My girls’ absolute favorite decoration is the neighbor who has a life-size manger with hay and the baby Jesus in it. It has a spotlight shining on it. And kneeling next to the manger, praying, is a life-size Santa Claus.

    It may sound tacky but it’s way cool.

  75. Steph at The Red Clay Diaries says

    The claymation comment reminded me:

    My son: “Mom, the people who did the claymation Christmas movies were lazy and not very good at animation.”

    Me: “My son, today you have become a man.”

    HATE the claymation movies. Of course, my kids (younger 2) love them.

    I love the idea of made-up symbolism for current Christmas traditions. Or maybe something on how it’s holier to have LED lights?

    WV: sendwee: An urgent message: “We’re bored AND sedentary! Sendwee! And xbox!”

  76. perkyguy says

    If you tell your child that there is a Santa, and he later finds out that there really isn’t a Santa, then your child will eventually think you’re lying about God, too.

    Is there even one documented case of an adult denying the existence of God because his parents told them there was a Santa?

  77. tim m says

    I always hated it when dad made us do the feats of strength.

    Jon, certainly you’ve read the essay by C.S. Lewis, “What Christmas Means to Me.” It’s in “God in the Dock.” Best read while “Christmas Shoes” is on continuous play.

  78. Shannon says

    The over-the-top Broadway-style Christmas pageants, for sure. I grew up in a Texas megachurch. No kids in bath robes for us; we started rehearsals in September and by November you were up at church every night. Performances ran two weeks, with two on Saturdays and Sundays (but Mondays off). Live camels and various other livestock, a crucifixion with strobe lights and drums, and a 400-person choir.

    Over the top? Sure. Awesome? Definitely. I still miss it.

  79. katdish says

    tim m (aka timbo?) –

    The feats of strength may not hold fond memories, but what about the airing of the greivances? the pole? I know we live in troubled times, but you gotta hold out hope for a Festivus miracle!

  80. Amity says

    Since radio stations at this time of the year play those signature 15 “holiday” songs, but redone by every singer on the planet… there must be a system to figuring out the best!
    Do you play the original just because they made it first? Or does Mariah Carey’s version just make the song a little more perfect?

  81. eastern ky pastor says

    How is it that we celebrate the birth of the Prince of Peace with Christmas Wars? I don’t like folks taking something beautiful and neutering it to be politically correct. But, how does boycotting, protesting and sending angry letters to stores who “hate the baby Jesus” demonstrate that we are changed people because of Jesus?

  82. thisgirlsjourney says

    My favourite Christmas/church memory was when I was in Sydney and at the Christmas Eve service they pretended that Santa came in on a Helicopter to deliver sweets to everyone. They had the speaker system play the helicopter noise and it really felt like one had just landed on the roof… Santa said he’d just been in NZ delivering Christmas presents there even for authenticity (NZ is two hours ahead). I liked it that they didn’t get all religious about Santa and just had fun.

    As a kid we used to do the SAME christmas play every year, with angels dressed up in old white sheets and shepherds with tea towels on their heads. Sometimes I think there was a bit of artistic licence used for the birthing of Jesus though which was hilarious.

  83. thisgirlsjourney says

    Oh and I agree with Tim Smith on the Christma letter thing – though my pet hate is when it’s written from the perspective of the baby that has just arrived in the household that year.

  84. thisgirlsjourney says

    Oh and I agree with Tim Smith on the Christma letter thing – though my pet hate is when it’s written from the perspective of the baby that has just arrived in the household that year.

  85. Kitty says

    Oh boy! My parents also came straight out with the Santa Clause issue. My older brother actually got into an argument with another little kid in early grade school over this issue (it may have been kindergarten). Needless to say, he was in trouble.

    Anyway, I love the church’s annual youth banquet. We all get to dress up nicely, act awkward around each other, and pick at what would otherwise be tasty food. This year, however, things will be different. This year, I’m prepared. I have a lovely black dress picked out, an elegant pearl necklace, and the loudest red and green Christmas socks you could imagine! This is going to be fun… =D

  86. KJ says

    How about…

    The ridiculous amount of Christmas sugar-based dishes. Seriously, do we need that many pies, cakes, fudge, cookies, etc.? No wonder so many people make New Year’s resolutions to lose weight!

    People who get hosed present-wise because their birthday is in December. (My son’s is the 22nd and mine is the 23rd)

    White elephant gifts! (a.k.a. crap a distant relative gave me last year and I never bothered to open, but it’s PERFECT for you!)

    Ridiculous amounts of lawn decor for the holiday season. OR, how you look like the neighborhood heathen if you don’t have at least 17 inflatable or light-up Santa/snowmen/reindeer in your yard.

  87. Adam says

    This comment may officially disqualify me from heaven, but, I HATE Christmas Shoes. It could be the lamest song ever. I would rater listen to a Twila Paris marathon that is being narrated by Sandi Patty and Ray Boltz. Every time the song comes on I turn the channel. “Christmas Shoes” gets used year round in our family. We were recently getting our snow tires put on and I asked if I could pay in Christmas Shoes…my wife hit me, When we do any sort of a special offering at church I ask my wife how many Christmas Shoes we should give, and I get hit.

    Also, I love Santa.

  88. Rob says

    Do we really hate the x-mas? because it’s not really an ‘x’ it is X ‘chi’ the first letter you use to spell ‘Christ’ in Greek.

  89. jennyleigh says

    How about the Christmas card table/sort box at church? You know, the one where you distribute cards to church families and make a donation to the chosen mission in the amount you would have spent on postage? Not only does it have the potential for creating a popularity contest, but it also makes you wonder: How many people actually donated the $28.56 it would have cost to mail the 68 cards (or Christmas letters — :p ) they stuck in the slots?

  90. Becca Barnes says

    How we have prepackaged Christmas to the extent that a local church’s Live Nativity has been upgraded to the Drive thru Bethlehem. I am not sure God had Honda Odysseys full of sweaty children in His staging concept of Christ’s humble birth…I wonder how the conversation went, “hey kids, let’s swing through Bethlehem on the way to McDonald’s drive thru…no, you don’t have to put on a coat we are not getting out of the car.” Or, from the creators of such an extravaganza of complacency, “I am sure people would like feel the Bethlehem experience, but we have to make it as easy as possible… you know how people feel about walking these days…”

  91. Anonymous says

    Growing up, my church always put up a life-size lighted christmas card drive-through. I don’t know why it was a drive-through. This was in Florida, so it was certainly not too cold to walk through. Anyhow, the christmas cards were sheets of plywood painted with scenes from the life of Jesus. I painted the nativity card and made the Holy Family all vaguely Hebrew looking. You know, cause they were. I came back the year after I left for college and someone had repainted baby Jesus and Mary blonde and blue-eyed. Joseph was allowed to remain Sephardic for some reason.
    -tk

  92. KatyTX says

    Advent calendars anyone? Chocolate treats vs. the message of Christ

    What about Christmas craft fairs? We used to have these at my Texas megachurch and I swear there had to be some 3rd world country sweatshop outsourcing or factory assembly line thing going on. No way there are people that talented, crafty, and devoted to the hours and hours of work that went into these pieces of decor. Are you sure all that money is going to charity? Or is the sweatshop the charity of choice?

    Also- the lessons and carols service. I’d like to see the SCL version with mixed carols and readings.

    Speaking of different versions, how about all the variations on “Twas the Night Before Christmas” You know, the cowboy version, the teachers version, the dieters version, the NASCAR version. How about an SCL Night before Christmas???

  93. Brandon Anderson says

    How about passing around the emails that describe how Christmas is really a pagan holiday that some idiot pope hijacked and that we’re all going to hell by feeling warm fuzzies toward our family (for once during the year) and seeing the entire world act just a little Christ-like.

    I must get a billion of those every year.

  94. Heather says

    Christmas letters in general but also those by elderly relatives that just recently figured out how to scan old pictures…gotta love the humiliating pitures of all the cousins during those awkward teenage years sent out to EVERYONE your grandparents know…gotta love technology

  95. Kimberly says

    Geez louise… leave the claus alone for pete’s sake… it’s fairly harmless as long as it is balanced with real teaching about Christ in your home.. I did not suddenly decide that everything my parents had ever said to me was a lie when I found out the claus wasn’t real.. good grief… give kids some credit… my mom and dad just explained it this way when we finally asked if the claus was real or not — it’s a “fun” tradition, no, he’s not real, but the sentiment behind him is — do unto others, be kind, think of other people before yourself you selfish oaf — all the same things you are taught about Jesus (hopefully) .. guess what.. I survived having both Jesus and the claus.. the stuff I wrestle with every day has absolutely nothing to do with claus hangover… I for 1 say up with the claus and teach Jesus too… enough with the holier than thou.. to each his own.. I don’t think anyone is going to burn in hell for doing the claus thing ya know???

  96. hello jessi! says

    Personal boycotts of stores that only sell “Happy Holidays” cards (that’s my mom’s yearly tradition, anyway).

  97. Anonymous says

    How about how at Christian preschools, the word Santa is treated like a curse word and an mention of him means you are instantly destined for hell

  98. andy nelson says

    The clever name we have to give our adult Christmas program …Jingle Jazz, Holiday Jukebox, etc.. or the fact that we have an adult christmas program.

  99. deWeb says

    the worship leader (i.e. me) trying so hard to make christmas songs "cool" that they end up being totally impossible to sing along to.

    eating at the amish restaurant nine times during the month of december, for all the different staff, pastors&wives, committee, and board banquets. being so sick of amish food that you start carrying ever portable electronic device you own with you just to freak them out.

    decorating the sanctuary with really big, white, glittery, fiberglass nativity set, right on top of the baptistry.

    denouncing commercialism, while we wait in the lines on black friday.

    youth group parties, which include caroling at local nursing homes, and a gift exchange where at least one kid gets a whiteheart tape.

    dc talk's christmas album. seriously.

    i have to stop there. i can't top that.

  100. sunnyhoney246 says

    My church at home always attempted to have the most random animals at the Christmas Eve service, as though seeing a zebra outside the sanctuary would somehow remind visitors of their overwhelming need for salvation. One particularly good memory I have of this is watching 5 of the respectable church elders chase a rebellious rooster around the parking lot for 45 minutes before they finally caught him and hastily put him back in the cage, looking around furtively to see if anyone had seen their nearly unsuccessful pursuit.

    Oh Christmas petting zoos…

  101. Anonymous says

    Holiday (Christmas cards) along with everyone has written about decorating them and having the picture perfect card- the fact that it seems now a days you have to include a 5 pg. single spaced letter on everything your family has done in the past year… on half the time you get the cards from people you haven’t spoken to in years. This always makes me laugh. You then throw there old picture away and put up the new one, just in case they were to ever come over (eventhough you haven’t seen them in years) or another friend comes over and said- didn’t you get that card from so and so? wasn’t it beautiful- wait where is the picture?

  102. Anonymous says

    how about those aweful food baskets you get from people in the office or other random people that cost 50-60 dollars and are filled with weird cheeses, meats and jellies… and you think to yourself, “what am I going to do with this.. my dog won’t even get near it”
    ha makes me laugh everytime

  103. scott b says

    us christians REALLY need a new slogan besides “jesus is the reason for the season.” we’ve truly worn it out, but is there any hope that another bumper sticker phrase could replace it? i’d like to know!

  104. JennyM says

    I loathe all the “shepherds wear dishtowels” and “Mary was 9 years old” crappy church pageants. For pete’s sake, but some brown fabric, try to look authentic. The shepherds probably didn’t have cute little cows saying “eat chicken” wrapped around their heads.

    And darnit, why CAN’T we encourage that wayward pregnant teenage girl and give HER the Big Part??? Huh? And a hottie young Joseph?? You never know…it might lead to a nice relationship after the play is over?

    What? Like no one has a pregnant teenage girl at their church they want to put on stage??? Come ON!! She’d just LOVE having hundreds of peole whispering about her on Christmas Eve!! Maybe the hottie Joseph guy can sing Christmas Shoes to her while she weeps authentic looking tears and silently curses herself for agreeing to this stupid idea.

    So. I’m wondering now how many people will read this and think I am serious?

  105. Dustin says

    Live animals in a nativity scene, sans poop. We love that stuff. We love feeling like we were “really there” at the nativity, except Mary isn’t a teenager, the room doesn’t smell like month-old excrement, and the choirs of angels definitely sounded better than the tone-deaf choir.

  106. Richard says

    Well, don’t know how you would incorporate this into your posts, but what about the churches that are built with Christmas and Easter in mind?

    I played guitar for a pentecostal church of about 500 people, which met in a geodesic dome structure and was therefore called “The Dome” in our small town. It was built with three long steel contraptions connected to the ceiling, coming from the center and from both sides, with small balconies on the sides.

    These contraptions were made specifically for angels to fly during our Christmas and Easter dramas.

    We dressed girls from 6-20 years of age like angels, strapped them to the ceiling on carabeaners from this contraption, and had one or two men use the ropes and pulleys to bring them back and forth with a practiced (yes, there was angel practice) graceful movement.

    If that isn’t a triumph of the Christmas spirit, I don’t know what is.

  107. Emily says

    I love Christmas music, but the songs with only children singing… that’s a little much for me. I wouldn’t normally listen to a “Bob the Builder” CD or a children’s choir’s “Best of Barney” or a station that only played little voices singing “Row, Row, Row Your Boat” all day. What makes Christmas season an exception? The month of December (though magical, I’m sure) cannot suddenly revolutionize music tastes. I’m sure everyone loves children just as much as the next person, but you don’t need to make them your new “holiday-themed” cell phone ring just to prove it to the world. We believe you.

  108. Erin K. says

    I don’t know if this is an idea or not, but it is funny. A few years ago, my husband and I were teaching the kindergarten Sunday school class during December. One little girl “outed” Santa, and I thought we were going to have a five-year-old mob scene. We had asked them a question about what Christmas means to them, and a girl mentioned Santa, which is when the other little girl said, “MY MOM AND DAD SAID THERE IS NO SANTA!” The first girl said, “YES THERE IS!!” and a war of “unh-uh’s” and “yuh-huh’s” erupted from there.

    The whole situation was hilarious, but it was also quite a dilemma – how is a Sunday school teacher supposed to handle a situation like that?? Thankfully, my husband, who is very good at thinking on his feet, somehow got things under control and steered the conversation back to something manageable without having to address whether or not Santa is real.

  109. Anonymous says

    Ok, I don’t know if this has been discussed yet, but Christmas cookies of the sweet baby Jesus. As I was making christmas cookies last night, I noticed the manager scene in cookie cutters and had a debate. If I make baby Jesus as a cookie, will people eat them? Is that sacriligious? Or communion?When I eat a gingerbread man cookie, I like to eat the limbs first but could I dismember the Soveriegn Lord that is a cookie? Why did someone give me this cookie set? Because I am a Pastor’s wife, Does that mean I can’t make Santa cookies and have to make Mary, Joseph and the baby Jesus cookies? Oh boy too many questions.

  110. mya-in-ab says

    Ha, these are fun ideas to read for me coming out of our church’s big Christmas production! Definitely we need some debate on how easy it can be to forget why we’ve been slaving away since September- not just about having an awesome time or fulfilling that need to get up and act out in front of a big crowd, but to put on a performance that has a message of hope and love for people to hear at this time of year.

  111. Stretch Mark Mama says

    Hubs and I always talk about how our small country churches used to “go caroling.” Complete with scorching hot (yet watered down) hot chocolate (from a homemade mix!) and cookies back at the church. We’d only go to old folks’ homes, and then have to stand 5 minutes at the door waiting for them to answer. Then we’d squish 20 people in a small, WARM, ummm stinky (sorry! it’s true!) living room — only to annoy them with songs.

    Of course there are always teens in the back who are changing the words to the songs. And getting the evil eye from their moms.

  112. Stretch Mark Mama says

    Also. Christmas pageants. (referring to the olden days, not currently. though i may be wrong about that.)

    Angels with clothes-hanger wings, shepherds with bathrobes.

    My best memory was the year my Dad was in charge of the pageant, and being the “techy” forward-thinking guy that he was — cut a star shape out of black paper and laid that down on an overhead projector to make The Star. I MEAN, IS THAT COOL OR WHAT?

  113. Stretch Mark Mama says

    The singing Christmas tree – OH HELP US ALL.

    “Mary Did You Know” and THE special music song of the month.

    Amy Grant’s “tennessee christmas” album. A CLASSIC.

    Handbells.

  114. Elizabeth says

    “Jesus is the reason for the season.”

    Christian radio stations playing secular songs (including, but not limited to “Rudolph the Rednosed Reindeer”) I assume in an attempt to “hook” people in and then keep them listening in order to play God-glorifying songs.

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