Forget you and your family (or dog) in sweaters in front of the fireplace with synchronized smiles.
This year (and from now on), put Jesus on the front of the card – and in the focus – for your holiday greetings, says Father James Martin, a Jesuit priest and culture editor for America Magazine, on NPR.
“More and more, even devout Christians have been replacing Jesus, Mary and Joseph with themselves,” Father Martin says. “Doesn’t it strike you as weird to set aside the Holy Family in favor of your family? Does a photo of Cabo San Lucas trump the story told by the original San Lucas? Is Christmas really about you?”
Father Martin isn’t down on family holiday greetings, but they belong inside the card, he argues, not on the outside, where we should honor the Reason for the Season. He likens a family photo on the Christmas card to sending someone a birthday card with your face on it.
Does it sound obnoxious?
Well, it is.
But it’s prevalent.
Google “Christmas Card” and search images, and you’re hard pressed to find a traditional nativity scene in the first ten pages of results.
As Christmas is increasingly commercialized (and yes, you’ve got to buy those Nativity scene cards somewhere, and the Madonna and Child stamps to mail ’em), Father Martin makes a good point about subtly reminding others – and yourself – what Christmas is really about. And in these weeks where purchasing can easily take precedence over prayer, we need all the reminders we can get.