Tuesday, December 9, 2008

The War on Christmas

We’ve once again entered into a scary time. Sure, we’ve been here before, but as the years go on, the threat evolves. It becomes more intense, and less predictable. It’s getting harder to foresee where it will happen, or by whom. It may be at the mall, at work, or while innocently walking down the street. But it’s inevitable… You will at some point be drawn into the newest round of the war on Christmas. Yes, I remember a time when ‘Merry Christmas’ was a nice friendly greeting… Now, for some, it’s tantamount to calling one’s mother some sort of farm animal. How did this happen? It amazes me the silly battles some folks are willing to fight, and how year after year, the offenses get more and more absurd. Displays bother people, Christmas carols bother people, commercials, T.V. specials, store ads, and of course, the afore mentioned greeting bothers people. And once again, by ‘people’, I mean a relatively small group of whiners, who were probably somehow wronged around the Holidays… who knows, maybe they got shit on by Prancer during a Christmas Eve fly-by, (though I hear that’s good luck, sans the dry cleaning). So now they need to pick fights with folks who actually have a little cheer.

It all started a while back with a few people complaining about manger scenes being represented on state, city, and federal government properties… OK, I get it. Separation of church and state. It doesn’t bother me, (because I’m not a whiner), but I get it. We trust God on our money but he needs to keep his damn kid off the lawn! If only Christ had run for office. “Re-elect Alderman Jesus – I promise fewer stones on the dirt road to the future”

It didn’t stop there though. The last thing you want to do is give a squeaky wheel a victory. Next, it was the word; ‘Christmas’. We can’t call it Christmas… That’s too… um… Christian! Silly Christians… Having a celebration for the birth of Christ who, incidentally, happens to be the basis for their entire religion, and having the audacity to name it after Him? Shameful! It’s funny how every Christmas attack is based in religion, religion, religion. But the whiners always fail to stop and think, (which takes effort, and usually results in the ingestion of extra strength Excedrin), about the fact that Christmas, while being 1st runner up on the Christian holiday calendar, has also become it’s own secular holiday, almost completely removed from religion. We put up Christmas trees, make snowmen, we have candy canes, chestnuts roasting on an open fire, the Grinch, and the Grand Poobah himself... Santa Claus. Let’s face it, 2 of the founding properties of our nation were freedom of religion, and that ours would be a Capitalist society. Christmas has it all! You can celebrate the birth of your Lord and Savior, and get 25% off a 46” Sony HDTV flat-screen with free shipping.

I know, I know… It’s not just Christmas this time of year, there are other celebrations going on as well. Which is fine – the more, the merrier! Wait, can I still be merry? I’ll have to check. We also have the Freedom From Religion foundation who believes in… well, not believing. Which is also fine, or would be if they weren’t on a crusade to 'free' the minds of the faithful who are hypnotized by religion, which I think actually makes them a religion… Phew! But why? Why do they care? Let me celebrate what I celebrate, believe what I believe, leave me in peace to watch ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’, drinking my egg nog, (with a little Captain Morgan), and LEAVE ME THE HELL ALONE! As for vernacular, I’m a ‘Merry Christmas’ guy… But hey - Say Happy Holidays if you want, or Happy Hanukah, Happy Kwanza, and for the Freedom from Religion folks, Happy Thursday afternoon! It’s just a greeting. An effort by someone you may not even know, to be a little friendly… Where’s the crime in that?

I guess it just escapes me, what exactly the whiners get out of these little victories. Is it a gripe with the Catholic Church? Believe be, I have an issue or two with it myself. But like Hanukah, Kwanza, the Solstice, or Festivus for the rest of us, Christmas – religious, or secular, hurts no one. Some of my dearest memories are adorned with Christmas decorations. I remember being around 7, creeping down the stairs in feet pajamas, into the parlor while it was still dark. We had one of those silver foil trees that changed color as the wheel of different colored gels passed in front of a spot light that shined on it. Off to the side, Santa left me my Roadrunner pedal car… Still in my top 5 best gifts.

But nothing beats creating the magic. My absolute fondest memories are of my son on Christmas mornings. His mom and I would always have Santa leave something behind, a sleigh bell in the yard, a note… One year, he knocked a brick out of the chimney – it was right on the living room floor! That Santa… The best part though, was the look on his face that second he saw the toys, and realized Santa had been there… I’ve experienced nothing else that rivals the feeling of seeing that face. Then we’d play the ‘Charlie Brown Christmas’ soundtrack, and he would ‘have at it’! And I’m not alone… There are millions of others with millions of memories just like that to cherish. Memories that would not be were it not for the magic of Christmas. Why would anybody want to mess with that?

“Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night…”