The War on Christmas
As usual, the Republicans are stirring some ridiculous shit up, in hopes of distracting the American public from the real issues at hand, among them the fact that the Bush administration has no exit strategy in Iraq, treatment of P.O.W.s (or "terrorists", as they like to call them these days), the environment, execution by the state and more, by launching a War on Christmas.
Jerry Falwell, James Dobson and the religious right are up in arms and ready to monitor, lobby, boycott and litigate over the way the people of this country choose to celebrate the holiday season. Falwell, Dobson, et. al, say this effort is actually to fight back against "liberal secularists" who are "trying to drive God from the public square." Those secularists apparently include the American Civil Liberities Union, Americans United for the Separation of Church and State, large chains such as Target and Walgreen's, and anyone else using the general "Happy Holidays" greeting this holiday season, as opposed to "Merry Christmas."
Personally, I really don't get what all the fuss is about. I like the "Happy Holidays" greeting this time of year, and I use it, because it's all-inclusive. Merry Christmas, Happy Hannukah, Happy Kwanzaa - it's all implied. It's one-stop shopping! But according to Falwell's 'Liberty Counsel' and Dobson's 'Focus on the Family' the "Happy Holidays" greeting is a wolf in sheep's clothing, and they are targeting retailers and schools - yes, schools - who they think "slight" Christmas by "bending over backward" for inclusivness. These groups are even raising funds through their websites to finance watchdog groups and private attorneys who kick up a big ruckus over Target using "Gather Round" as a holiday greeting, and battle with public school superintendents who think it's inappropriate to have nativity scenes on their school campuses.
I would find it hysterical, if I didn't find it so disgusting, that the organized right is telling the overwhelming majority of the population of the U.S. that it should feel persecuted and oppressed if someone wishes them "happy holidays." I would find it unbelievable, if I didn't find it so typical, that conservatives are using language like "war" and "christmas" together. I would find it silly, if I didn't find it so frightening, that the government of this country, so concerned about "freedom" in the middle east, so vehemently opposes freedom of, and freedom from, religion in this one. This is the path of the modern day Christian?
This year, for the first time in her life, Hazel is old enough to understand how, and most importantly, why, we are celebrating the holidays. I say holidays because in our family, we acknowledge all the special days of the season, including Hannukah and Kwanzaa. Hazel is old enough to understand that different people celebrate different holidays in their families, and in the world, and that all the holidays are equally important. She still has lots of questions, though:
"Why did we get a Christmas tree, Mama?" she asked last week. "Why do we put orna-mins on it?"
Yesterday at the park she built a menorah on the swing out of sand, stuck eight candles in it, sang happy birthday to herself, and blew them out.
I've tried to stress that this is a time to celebrate the change in season, to enjoy and be thankful for our family and our home, and to give things to the people that we love. I've also really tried to impart to her that Christmas is a time for giving things to people who need them, especially to kids who are not as fortunate as we are, and who have very little to eat, wear, or play with. I was really proud of her the day we cleaned out her closet and she chose the toys, clothes and DVDs she wanted to donate to the kids at Redwood Family House.
I feel very uncomfortable with the religious aspect of the "winter holidays," I'll be honest. I do not consider myself a Christian in the biblical sense of the word, and especially not in the cultural sense of the word, which, these days, has visions of "morality" police, right-wing zealots and the federal government dancing in my head. I prefer to think of myself as a little bit of everything, or at the very least, tolerant and respectful of all of the religion and spirituality the world has to offer, and hope to raise my girls as such.
So, I guess that makes me one of those liberals plotting to "ban the sacred Christian holiday." Or whatever. You can officially label me liberal freak for jumping into the 21st century, and acknowledging that there are not just Christians, but also Jews, Buddhists, aetheists, Rastafarians, Hindus, Muslims and so many more, who make up this country. Because isn't now, more than ever before, the time to embrace our differences and celebrate not in spite of them, but because of them? To make peace? To show each other kindness and love? Isn't that what the holidays, whichever ones you celebrate, are all about?