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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.

Or, as he sums it up: “More Virgin Mary and less Virgin Islands.”

“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.

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1 Comment

  1. Denise-572746 December 11, 2010

    Thanks for the article~!!! I agree 100% because I have always endured the photos of vacations,
    form letters, and just about anything except God, Joseph, Mary and especially Baby Jesus in the receiving end of Christmas cards. Now, more than ever it really hits home when I am now a widow of suicide. Nothing that comes in the mail from family, friends, comforts me when it’s all about how glorious their lives are and where they’ve travelled in the past year. When can we go back to Christmas being just about the “Birth of Christ?”

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