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In Defense of Christmas (To a point)

December 23rd, 2008 (10:29 pm)

current mood: tired

Back in elementary school, I was one of those little jerks who didn't want to say the Pledge of Allegiance because it had the words "under God" in it. To this day, I still loathe the fact that "In God We Trust" is printed on our money. I am vehemently opposed to prayer or the teaching of creationism in public schools.

But I really have to wonder about the degree of utter absurdity that caused some student activist group or other to manage to have all the Christmas trees removed from all of the campus libraries at UNC. While I usually try to avoid minimizing the causes of activists, this is one case where I really have ask if there isn't something more important in the world to worry about besides walking past a little tree strung with colored lights in a lobby.

What is so Christian about little conifers decorated in lights and tinsel? Well, nothing, actually. Christmas trees are one of those pagan influences that became part of the Christmas holiday that didn't particularly have anything to do with Christianity itself. Way to go, politically correct crowd: In your self-righteous zeal to rid the world of Christian influences, you've managed to start ridding the world of one of the few pagan influences that has managed to stay mainstream. Instead of, oh, I don't know, maybe using Christmas trees as a teachable moment to educate more people about the influence of faiths under than Christianity.

Besides which, I like seeing Christmas trees and lights and holiday decorations this time of year. I have a Christmas up at home, in fact. If anyone gave me a menorah or something else from their faith, I'd put that up as well. I like Christmas carols--some of my favorites are the religious ones. If you really hate holiday decorations that much, simply ignore them. If someone out there is going to have their whole day ruined from walking past a decoration, they should probably feel blessed that they have so few problems in life.

I would be remiss if I didn't mention how many Christians have become just as obnoxious over the holidays, however, with their insistence on attacking those who say "Happy Holidays" instead of "Merry Christmas". Oh so this is suddenly what one of the most important Christian holidays is about now? Looking for every petty way you can possibly find to extend the culture wars? My friend Sandy--who actually is a devout Christian--wrote a great blog entry on this particular bit of nonsense. While I obviously don't share her religious sentiments, I do agree with her about just how silly this argument really is.

I don't want to associate Christ with spending mass amounts of money and sugar overloads and long lists of things I want. To me, that's a superficial way to try to make the holiday holy.

Many people simply need to regain a sense of perspective, particularly in light of the fact that so many people are suffering in a bad economy and many others are stationed far from their homes and families serving our country over the holiday season. People saying "Happy holidays" to be more inclusive isn't some outrageous blasphemy that's going to bring fire and brimstone upon us, nor is it going to affect how you choose to live your faith. And on the other side of this, displaying Christmas trees and nativity scenes are not a dangerous assault on religious freedom and the separation of church and state.

I think we would all do well to keep in mind, whether we believe in the literal truth of the Bible or not (and I am firmly in the camp of those who do not), that there is a worthy meaning to the holiday season: peace on Earth, and goodwill toward others.

So if you celebrate it, Merry Christmas. To my Jewish friends, Happy Hanukkah. To those of you who celebrate the winter solstice or something else, Seasons' Greetings and Happy Holidays. No matter what you celebrate, I wish you and your families a joyous holiday season and a bright start to the new year.