Regular readers will remember this one, somewhat adapted, from last year....
"Of the channels through which we can choose to send our messages, the visual is the strongest. This is partly because the parts of the brain which handle visual impressions are larger than those dealing with, for example, hearing; but it is also because we can attend to several visual messages simultaneously..... When word and image are used in combination, the resulting image is even richer and more powerful."
("See What I Mean", John Morgan and Peter Welton.)
Can you remember the Christmas Images of years gone by? They were of a loving family. He wasn't the "Real" Dad, so they say, but he had appointed himself the Protector of his Wife and Child. The Christmas Images of yesteryear were about Responsibility, Family, Love, and making do with what we had. The words that went with those images strengthened the idea that we are loved, there is someone looking out for us, and that we are expected to behave IN THIS WAY: Responsible, Loving, and Content with simple comforts. You never hear about Mary needing new curtains. The words Child, Mother, Father, Holy, Love, were burned into our young minds as good words. They went with chocolate and bulging stockings. They went with the gorgeous music of the season, awesome and celestial.
So what do we have now? I was hard-pressed to find Christmas Cards with images of the Holy Family, and so far I haven't been able to buy a Nativity Crèche. Everywhere I look there is Santa and Rudolph. Apparently, we are not allowed to wish anyone (or their children) "A Holy And Blessed Christmas" at school or in stores, and the iconic images of the Holy Family, and the very IDEA that Family Responsibility can be considered Holy, has been deemed politically incorrect. We have been told that some people may find Christmas Blessings offensive. How strange. And what has it been replaced with?
"Happy Holidays". And pictures of masses of food, way too many things, a reindeer with a shiny nose, and the idea that in order to GET this Happiness that you are very clearly ENTITLED TO, you have to have a whole lot of stuff. The kids, in particular, MUST have the stuff or they will be devastated. Circle what you want in the catalogue, kids. We have Jolly, Happy, Toys, Turkey, Fashion, Santa Claus, Weight Gain, Hangover, Broken, Plastic, Speedy Delivery, More! Better! Sooner! Cheaper! Now! Stress! Pepto Bismol!
I find those images of excess much more offensive. I would much rather someone assumed I worshipped a guy named Jesus who had a great family and taught about love, than that I felt entitled to a Happy Holidays. And you can keep your Jolly crap away from my kids, too. But go right ahead and tell them all about Jesus. I can deal with that. (Oh, at Divali, tell them about peace and light of Mother Laxmi, too. However you're selling love, I'm buying.)
Whether we are devoutly Christian or not, it should make us sad to lose our annual Christmas Nativity Lesson. How on earth could anyone be offended by an image of a family? How on Earth has this image become something offensive? The non-Christians I know are perfectly okay with it, just as I am perfectly okay with their wishes for Divali Blessings for me, or Eid Blessings, or Hannukah Blessings, or whatever. Someone wants to tell me that they wish their special Blessings upon me and my family? I am touched.
Could it be that the Holy Family just isn't an earner for Big Business? If so, then it is time for us, the consumers, to make a statement. To channel our money differently. This year, throw away the Jolly Holly Greetings. Claim back Christmas. We really need it.