More than nine out of 10 Americans celebrate Christmas - even atheists, agnostics or believers in other faiths, according to surveys by LifeWay Research and USA TODAY/Gallup. They might be roasting chestnuts over an open fire, decking the halls with boughs of holly or trying to get the Chipmunks Christmas song out of their heads, but they are celebrating.
The problem is, what are they celebrating?
In many cases, it isn't really Christmas. Sure, we're all shopping, online and off, decorating trees and even drinking the occasional glass of eggnog. We as a society have even somewhat agreed that, yes Virginia, there is a Santa Claus. That's as long as it's a politically correct Santa who's lost that belly that shakes like a bowl full of jelly, says 'happy holidays,' brings environmentally correct toys and isn't gender specific.
But what of 'the founder of the feast,' as Dickens' Bob Cratchit phrased it? No, not Scrooge. He was no more the founder of the Christmas feast than the goose the size of Tiny Tim. There is only one founder of Christmas, the holiday named for his birth.
But the media have convinced us we can have a wonderful life without any mention of Christ in the holiday. In two years of Christmas coverage on the evening news shows, the networks only mentioned God seven times - out of 527 stories discussing the holiday. NBC went an entire year without connecting Christ to the holiday bearing his name.
It's an attitude best summed up by NPR legal correspondent Nina Totenberg who made a classic liberal comment during a recent appearance on 'Inside Washington.' Totenberg, ever the champion of all things lefty, couldn't even use the name of the holiday without embarrassment. 'I was at - forgive the expression - a Christmas party at the Department of Justice,' she said. Hardly tidings of comfort and joy. Even acknowledgement of the world's most popular holiday is now the ghost of Christmas past in the American media.
Taking a look at what passes for our Christmas 'culture' in 2010, who could blame God if He would want to be left out this year? Even the concept of traditional Christmas cards has turned into an assault on the senses. There's the Octomom family picture where she oddly left out several of her children, but remembered to wear a low-cut top to spread holiday cheer. Paris Hilton, ever willing to debase herself for attention, was easily outdone in the gay apparel department by ever-scandalous country singer Lee Ann Rimes. Rimes 'donned a sexy Mrs. Claus costume and performed with the Gay Men's Chorus of Los Angeles.' Ho, ho, ho indeed.
But for every jolly happy soul in Hollywood who would twist the meaning of Christmas, there's always someone normal who keeps the spirit of giving in her heart. Lea Ann Newton of Murfreesboro, Tenn., is one such who every year helps send homemade Christmas cards to our wounded soldiers. Through Operation Christmas Care, which she began in 2006, she's sending out 13,000 cards this year.
One woman opening her heart to 13,000 people shows that it's possible to keep Christmas when others around you are losing it. But it's not enough to stop the avalanche of Grinch-like propaganda and rationalization that invade our lives this time of year. The cousin of a parolee accused of ice-pick attacks on New York women even blamed the crimes on Christmas shopping, saying his cousin was 'stressing about how to afford everything for the holidays.'
Around the nation, those who wish to wreck Christmas constantly face off against those who wish to fight for it. In Boston, $15,000 worth of Christmas toys were stolen from the Marines' Toys for Tots program. But Bostonians and the state police have kept the children from having a blue Christmas through added generosity. In South Carolina, similar Grinch-like vandals wrecked Christmas displays by driving through them only to discover that they couldn't keep Christmas from coming.
Last but never least is the now annual drive by atheists to bully people during the holiday. With metro signs and billboards they seek to force 'reason' on a public that is wise enough to see through their propaganda. This year they added to that onslaught with a Wall Street Journal defense of atheism by British comedian Ricky Gervais.
Every year, the situation gets worse. Our society is left much like Charlie Brown in the classic special, seeking the true meaning of Christmas. Here, just as even a lovable blockhead can discover, the meaning has stayed the same for 2,000 years. It isn't about Frosty or Rudolph or Santa or even the gifts we all give one another. It's about the gift that was given to all of us. In the words of one of the many true Christmas songs, 'Joy to the world! the Lord is come.'
Dan Gainor is The Boone Pickens Fellow and the Media Research Center's Vice President for Business and Culture. His column appears each week on The Fox Forum. He can also be contacted on FaceBook and Twitter as dangainor.