Friday, December 16, 2005

Because It IS A Christmas Tree, Dammit!

First of all, my housemates and I are expecting 152 people in our house tonight, according to the acceptances on the E-vite. I am sure I will have something to say about all this after the weekend. In the meantime - pray for me.

Last week, when W was getting guff about sending out "Happy Holiday" greetings instead of "Merry Christmas" greetings, I had to just shake my head. FAR BE IT FOR ME TO TAKE W's SIDE ON ANYTHING, but it's just gotten out of hand.

As Laura Bush's press secretary put it, "Their cards in recent years have included best wishes for a holiday season, rather than Christmas wishes, because they are sent to people of all faiths." But we all know that W and Laura are born-again, evangelical Christians so why shouldn't they be allowed to send out Christmas cards wishing people a Merry Christmas without someone bursting into flames over it. All the problems in this administration (scandals, corruption, lies, war), and someone picks THIS to be mad at W about???

Is it such an affront to one's senses to be wished a happy and safe holiday even though said one might not celebrate it? Is that really so damned offensive? Is wishing a Jew a "Merry Christmas" such a slap in the face? I am a Christian, but if someone yelled out to me "Yo dude, Happy Hanukkah!", I'd merely say thanks and go on my way.

Some argue that its just the "assumption" that is so bothersome - that "because I am like this, everyone else is like this too". For example, someone assuming I am straight and then me having to make the correction. Truthfully, it depends on who was making the assumption: if it was someone who mattered to me, someone I would see often or someone with personal contact with me, I would make the correction. But if it was someone else, say the security guard in my office building asking if my wife and I had a nice weekend, I would simply smile, say yes and thank him. Then forget about it. No harm. And it was nice he even asked at all.

Religious conservatives have been pissed off because "Christ" is being taken out of Christmas. People use the abbreviated "Xmas" in lieu of writing out the entire word. Everyone does "holiday shopping" now instead of "Christmas shopping". Kids in schools are sent home for winter break instead of Christmas vacation. Now, there is talk about calling it a Holiday Tree instead of a Christmas tree.

A little history lesson: the fir tree was initially chosen by a monk in the 7th century as a symbol of Christmas because of its triangular shape, representing the holy trinity (Father, Son, Holy Spirit). It came to be revered as God's tree. It's been called a Christmas tree for about, oh, 500 years. Martin Luther (not King) decorated the first Christmas tree in the 16th century by putting candles on a small pine tree. Eventually people followed suit, then started buying crafts and decoration to put on their trees during Christmas time and, VOILA - Christmas tree. See, it's called a Christmas tree because it IS a Christmas Tree.

Do some Africans celebrate the "Seven Holiday Principles"? Do the Jews light "Holiday Candles"? Truth is, the Jews don't really consider Hanukkah to be all that. It's the Christians who turned Hanukkah into such a big deal because we felt guilty for grabbing so much attention during Christmas, that we thought the Jews should be able to have a big celebration too. However you don't see the Christians running to church during Yom Kippur and Rosh Hashanah, which are bigger celebrations to the Jews than Hanukkah. And quite frankly, I know a good many Christians who would benefit greatly from a day of atonement.

Maybe all this was started because a school didn't want the one Jewish kid in the class to feel ostracized or left-out. But aren't kids more sophisticated now? I remember in grade school a girl named Terry was a Jehovah's Witness and would sit in class alone while all the other kids in the school would gather in the auditorium to watch Christmas shows (she also wouldn't recite the Pledge of Allegiance which always baffled me - I mean we are just pledging our loyalty to America, not kissing the Pope's ring). Isn't it the responsibility of the school system to explain about different cultures and religions? Should Terry have been left alone in a classroom for several hours at a time? Yeah, she could be back then in the 70's, because times were easier. Today, a teacher might get fired for leaving a child unattended. But that's today. Teachers are more aware, and kids are more savvy.

Why can't we just all have our own separate holidays? We are so busy being politically correct that the whole thing ends up sounding stupid. I refuse to wish anyone a "Merry Christmahanukkwanzaakahs". That's the most idiotic thing I have ever heard. These are three seperate holidays for three seperate groups -and it's ok that they are separate (besides, we dont go around in April wishing everyone a Happy EasPesFreeachterdom). I'd rather just wish someone a "Happy December".

So how about this - how about only sending Christmas cards to people you know? If someone is really your friend, you know if he/she is Christian or Jewish or Muslim or whatever. Those are the people who deserve your wishes and greetings - your friends. Businesses and companies should just stop sending cards altogether. I mean, it's nice that they want to spread a little goodwill but it's mostly just a marketing ploy anyway. I don't really believe they care about me in that way. And I've never heard one of my bosses say, "Well we aren't going to do business with that company anymore because they didn't send us a Christmas card last year." I've never gotten a card from Club Monaco and I spend money in that store like it's my job. For that matter, you think W really gives a hang about all the people who got a card from him? All you have to do is send a letter or email to the White House and you get put on a mailing list, which includes getting a card from the president.

I personally will be celebrating Christmas. If you want to wish me a Happy Hanukkah or a Joyous Kwanzaa, then thank you for the wish. I am wishing you what Christmas means to me - the spirits of goodwill, giving and family, and the joy of new beginnings.

And if that offends you in any way, then bah humbug.