By Slade Blackwell
With Thanksgiving behind us, we are heading straight toward Christmas. For me, the holidays are a good time to reflect on the blessings in our lives, the need to help others and the reason we are celebrating in the first place.
That last reflection is often lost in the name of political correctness and retail frenzy. This year it seems like Black Friday, Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday received an exceptional amount of attention. While I realize much of that has to do with retailers looking to close out the year on a strong fiscal note, it makes Thanksgiving seem like a simple opportunity to be generally thankful for our possessions. Many of us realize that we have so many more reasons to be thankful, but to whom are we giving thanks? That question was virtually lost in the hustle and bustle of the holidays.
In his Thanksgiving Proclamation of 1789, George Washington called for “a day of public thanksgiving and prayer to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many signal favors of Almighty God.”
I understand that many Americans may not believe in God. That is their right and privilege in our great nation. Yet we must not forget that we celebrate these holidays because of our historical acknowledgement of God’s hand in creating and protecting our nation.
With Christmas on the horizon, our culture has, in many respects, tried to rewrite the cause for celebration. Christmas is not simply a holiday about Santa Claus and presents under the tree. We are dazzled with brilliant displays of lights, singing and even stories of personal redemption. They all point to something, but that something, or someone, is frequently hard to find in public.
Christmas is founded in the recognition of the greatest gift mankind has received. Some politicians might shy away from mentioning Jesus Christ, but his arrival is the reason my family and I celebrate Christmas. We understand the loving message of God sending Jesus to redeem a fallen and broken world.
When my family and I say “Merry Christmas,” it carries more weight for us than a simple holiday greeting. We have no intention to offend or slight the perspectives of those who share different religious beliefs. We, like many of our neighbors and people throughout Alabama, simply wish to express our acknowledgement of Jesus’s birth. In a world in which chaos and evil have strong footholds, “Merry Christmas” is a simple message of hope. In a nation in which free religious expression is a foundational belief, many of us routinely fail to express what we actually believe. Instead, we allow a culture of religious neutrality to pervade where we once fervently recognized God’s role in our lives and society.
This Christmas and throughout the year, our nation needs Christ’s message of hope and love more than ever. We can either wonder why we are celebrating or reach out to our friends and neighbors by showing and telling them what a “Merry Christmas” means to us.
Slade Blackwell is serving his second term in the Alabama State Senate representing Jefferson and Shelby counties in District 15. For more information about Slade, visit www.sladeblackwell.com or follow him on Facebook or on Twitter @sladeblackwell. To reach him by phone, call 334-242-7851.