American Consequences - December 2018


By Andrew Ferguson



f you asked me to name my favorite Christmas song – though I can’t imagine why on Earth you would do such a thing – I would offer a list with several songs clustered at the top, competing for high honors and changing annually. One year “Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer” will edge out “I Want a Boob Job for Christmas” for the No. 1 spot. Then the next year, “Be Claus I Got High” might bump off Granny, who will tumble to No. 4, below perennial contender “Daddy Please (Don’t Get Drunk This Christmas),” to which I have a sentimental attachment. “Christmas Conga (Bonga Bonga)” will be up there, too.

And then you would probably accuse me of being cheeky. But I’m not! Friends who know me as a Christian believer might ask where all the traditional religious favorites have gone – your “Silent Nights,” your “Little Town of Bethlehems” – which have the virtue of actually touching on the reason much of the world sets aside Christmas Day for special attention. And I do like all those religious songs as much as the next elf. For years, I would defend them against the competition of commercial and secular Christmas tunes, piously deriding the trashy and trite in favor of songs and hymns that are meant to call us

back to the religious wellsprings that inspired the season in the first place. But I’ve given up on that lost cause. I have thrown in the towel on deriding the commercialization of Christmas. The Christian apologist C.S. Lewis once wrote a useful essay distinguishing between real, genuine Christmas, the religious celebration that imposes rites and obligations on the believer, and what he called “Exmas,” which sometimes seems to be almost a separate entity altogether. Exmas is what you find stuffing the shelves at Walmart, filling the

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