Thursday, December 23, 2010

Not Much Ado

The supposed to-do over “Merry Christmas” vs. “Happy Holidays,” fueled greatly by media outlets having slow news days, is one of the silliest topics in years and hardly worthy of comment, if not for all the silly comments I hear about it!

So, since a very few who unfortunately have broad forums want to make hay of this, I will offer this comment. Then I am done:

As a Christian, I celebrate Christmas as the birth of Christ (and that’s how “Christmas” got its name). I understand perfectly, however, that we have no record of the actual birth date of Jesus Christ and more than likely, it wasn’t even in the winter. It appears that Christians, at some point in time, adopted this date which actually corresponds roughly with the pagan celebration surrounding the Winter Solstice. Many of the Christmas traditions have pagan roots.

In the public school I attended when I was a child, we had Christmas parties, Christmas plays and Christmas programs. There were references to the birth of Christ. Nobody seemed to get upset over this.

On the other hand, I suppose if there had been a Jew, Muslim, believer in some other deity or a total non-believer in my school, this might have made that person uncomfortable. I knew a fair number of Jewish people in the town where I grew up (although I don’t remember any from elementary school when we had those activities), and as I remember, they had Christmas trees in their homes and attended Christmas parties. They didn’t observe Christmas Day as the birth of Christ, of course, but they took the day off as most did and seemed fine with it. Everybody seemed to handle it all just fine.

Over time, Christmas activities that specifically referenced the birth of Christ became taboo in public schools. They now have to be “holiday” programs. They can make reference to Christmas but should also include nods to Hanukah or other religious observances.

That seems fair enough to me, and in principal I agree with it. But the political correctness of it has gotten way out of hand. In the elementary school my children attended, there was always controversy over Christmas trees, of all things. And they just did away with any Christmas songs religious in nature, opting for only the secular holiday songs.

Again, that’s just silly. Why didn’t they sing “Silent Night” and then sing a song about Hanukah? I remember singing a couple of Hanukah songs in elementary school and I thought it was cool. I don’t recall anyone getting worked up over it.

I am a firm believer in the First Amendment and the last thing I want is government establishing or endorsing religion. But I believe the majority of people in the U.S. celebrate Christmas. And I believe the vast majority of those who DON’T celebrate it don’t mind the rest of us who do, and don’t mind getting the day off work that day.

I saw this atheist guy on a news program this week just going on and on about how Christmas trees in the workplace make non-believers feel bad. I respect this guy’s right to not believe, I really do, but come on. He objects to a Christmas tree?! Does he know that bringing a dead tree inside and decorating it is one of the pagan traditions adopted by Christians to be part of the Christmas celebration? His problems run a lot deeper than he knows if he is threatened by the presence of a decorated tree in his place of employment.

Likewise, as a Christian, I’m not going into apoplexy when someone says “Happy Holidays” instead of Merry Christmas. I’m not going to boycott a store that doesn’t appear to use the word “Christmas.” (I actually boycott most stores but that’s another story). I’d love to have the chance to share with someone who chooses not to observe Christmas why I joyfully celebrate Christ's birth, but I doubt I’ll get that opportunity if I’m having a hissy fit over words.

Ben Stein, a great writer and actor, and a Jew, wrote a wonderful piece a few years ago about how he, a non-Christian, is a happy recipient of a “Merry Christmas” greeting. And if Ben were to wish me a Happy Hanukah, I would also graciously receive it. I wouldn’t need to call the ACLU or go on a news program to yammer about my rights being violated. Here’s part of what Ben said:

I am a Jew, and every single one of my ancestors was Jewish. And it does not bother me even a little bit when people call those beautiful lit up, bejeweled trees Christmas trees. I don't feel threatened. I don't feel discriminated against. That's what they are: Christmas trees. It doesn't bother me a bit when people say, "Merry Christmas" to me. I don't think they are slighting me or getting ready to put me in a ghetto. In fact, I kind of like it. It shows that we are all brothers and sisters celebrating this happy time of year. It doesn't bother me at all that there is a manger scene on display at a key intersection near my beach house in Malibu. If people want a creche, it's just as fine with me as is the Menorah a few hundred yards away.

I don't like getting pushed around for being a Jew and I don't think Christians like getting pushed around for being Christians. I think people who believe in God are sick and tired of getting pushed around, period. I have no idea where the concept came from that America is an explicitly atheist country. I can't find it in the Constitution and I don't like it being shoved down my throat.

Isn’t that great?

Wish me Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays or whatever, and I’m going to say right back at you, friend, may your days be merry and bright and may you be protected from the insane political correctness that is a genuine threat to our way of life, unlike a Christmas tree or a Menorah.

And to the news media, here’s a big news flash for you: this is no longer news. 99.9 percent of us just get along.

6 comments:

Kelly said...

Do you still remember the words to any of those songs we sang in elementary school? There's one for which I remember the tune and the first line, but then I get stuck.

Did you like the Fannie Flagg book? I've really enjoyed her other books and didn't realize she had a new one.

Merry Christmas, Bob, to you and all your family!

Bob said...

There was one that went something like, "Oh Hanukah, Oh Hanukah, come light the Menorah . . " and that's as far as I can get.

Yes loved the most recent Fannie Flagg book. Endearing characters and funny plot.

Merry Christmas to you and yours!

Kelly said...

That's the one I was thinking of and that's exactly as far as I can get, too. Oh, well.

quid said...

Bob,

I so totally agree with your sentiments on this. I can believe this political correctness has cancelled out some of the great joys we all found in the season in school and at work.

MERRY CHRISTMAS!

quid

Pencil Writer said...

AMEN!

Hal Johnson said...

I'm with ya on this one, Bob.