The Patch headline reads:
"Watertown Belmont Chamber Hosting First Annual Holiday Tree Lighting Ceremony"
What exactly is a Holiday Tree? What Holiday are we celebrating?
It's sad to say the War on Christmas continues. So I've dusted off an old column I wrote in 2004 which unfortunately is still appropriate!
Tis The Season Not To Offend Anyone !
Kaeley Hay is your typical fifth grader from Garwood New Jersey. Kaeley and her classmates were given the assignment of writing a Thanksgiving Day poem.
Who would have thought that such a traditional classroom exercise would trigger a Constitutional Crisis? But, according the Newark Star-Ledger that’s pretty much what happened.
Kaeley’s verse was such a hit with her classmates that her rhyme was posted on the hallway bulletin board.
The problem arose when school officials decided that the literary work of a ten-year old violated the sacrosanct “separation between Church and State”.
You see; Kaeley had been so bold as to include an historical truth in her assignment. Her poem cleverly concludes with the following verse: “ Pilgrims thank God for what they were given, Everybody say … happy Thanksgiving!”
Imagine that, a fifth grader’s artistic expression and accurate representation of history was deemed an offensive Constitutional threat. Fortunately, rational minds eventually prevailed. The poetry was left on display, but only after the School District’s lawyer was consulted.
Sad to say, this sophomoric wisdom does not exist in a vacuum. School districts in Maplewood and South Orange NJ expanded the ban on certain types of “holiday music”. For years the singing of religious Christmas carols has been strictly verboten. But now the proscription includes instrumental arrangements of these same pieces. The reasoning behind this warped decision is that the melodies could evoke religious thought. What’s next? Shall we forbid Beethoven’s 9th symphony? After all several Christian hymns share the melody!
But the “Sensitivity Stasi” don’t limit their inquisitorial reach to Christian expression.
From the Left coast we have the following report:
“City boosters in Roseburg, Oregon, are getting some flak about plans to put up a statue of a Greek goddess in town, reports the Oregonian. Apparently, some in town feel the image would foster goddess worship and offend Christians.” (Fox News 11/28/04)
I remember the day when diversity meant the freedom to celebrate different traditions, cultures and faiths. Ironically, the “politics of inclusion” have hatched an illegitimate “child”. This mutant can only be described as Secular Fundamentalism. What began as a movement to include everyone has morphed into dogma that has us all eating vanilla. I guess eating pistachio might remind us that these people are nuts!
This leaves me in quandary. It’s December and Christmas and Chanukah are upon us. Normally, I extend the appropriate religious greeting to my Christian and Jewish friends. However, the Communication Commissars have invented this new right not to “feel” offended. I now fear “Merry Christmas” or “Happy Chanukah” may qualify as hate-speech.
I could always say Happy Holidays. But that might offend those that get depressed this time of year. I could say Season’s Greetings, but what the heck does that mean? Sort of sounds like, “Hello, it’s Tuesday”. I'm certainly not extending any blessing. Besides, Christmas lasts twelve days and Chanukah only eight. They hardly qualify as Seasons.
What about the people that celebrate Arbor Day? They don’t get to elevate their holiday to a season. Nope. Just doesn’t seem fair, does it?
This begs another question. Should we really use the term holiday? After all, holiday is an abbreviation for Holy Day. Ah, but we might be safe because the word holy is a translation of the Greek word haggia. Haggia literally means separate, thus holiday can also mean separate day.
So I guess holiday is kosher for now. But, then again, there is the ACLU to consider. They may file a lawsuit claiming the recognition of separate but equal days violates the constitutional rights of ordinary 24-hour periods. Especially since the word day can be easily interpreted as being non-inclusive of those hours also commonly referred to as, dawn, dusk, evening or night.
Ya know, it’s getting harder and harder to have a “Hallmark moment”. But maybe that’s the problem. Long before the militant secularists declared war on religion, consumerism reduced Christmas and Chanukah to boilerplate verse. Sacred Observances were watered down to a guy in a red hat and spinning dreidels. Rich traditions gave way to bargain hunting. Time meant for family, Church and Synagogue was spent in shopping malls; shrines built to the new god Consumer.
Chanukah is a Hebrew word literally meaning dedication or consecration.
In that spirit, let us refocus our thoughts on the true meaning of both these deeply religious traditions.
In the second century BC Judas Maccabee, and his brothers moved by their faith and against overwhelming odds, liberated Judah and cleansed the Temple. Jews believe God displayed his approval with the “miracle of the oil”.
Christmas is the celebration of the birth of a Jewish boy born in the most humble of circumstance. As a grown man, he would cleanse the very same Temple. We Christians profess him as the Son of God, the Prince of Peace.
As we celebrate these Holy Days, let us not be ashamed to share who we are with those who are different. We offend no one when we share ourselves; we only make each other richer for the experience.
Happy Chanukah and Merry Christmas to all, and to all the Tyrants of Terminology, good night!