Friday, December 05, 2008


Three years ago, I wrote this post about the retail trend we see this time of year to either embrace or reject any number of winter holidays. It's going to happen every year, I think. There is no end to this debate until people start to accept that their faith is not the only one and they need to not be offended if they hear about another. Freedom of religion does not equal freedom from other religions, nor was it ever meant to.

So, if you are atheist, I would imagine this time of year is quite annoying. You need to accept that it is important to the majority of people around you.

If you are Christian, you need to accept that many of your neighbors are not and they don't hold the same meaning for this time as you.

If you are any number of pagan faiths that celebrate the winter solstice (which, and let's be fair, is the true reason for the season), you need to remember that many people simply don't know and it's not right to punish them for their ignorance.

If you are Jewish, you need to accept that.... You know, I don't think the Jews need to accept their side of things at all. See, Hanukkah often gets overlooked or pushed aside because there are just so many more Christmasers out there. The Jewish holiday is not ignored; it just doesn't get a front seat. I usually see one end cap in a store dedicated to special Hanukkah items. That's progress, but you don't have to accept it. Stand up, Jews, for your very special holiday! Don't let Christmas overpower what really happened on those miraculous nights!

And, if you are not Christian, you need to accept that many people are, and this is a big, important time for them.

Truly, this is an important time for many people, for a variety of reasons. In this wonderful country, we need to be aware of that. We need to not get offended if we hear the word "Christmas," for we all know that Christmas happens around this time. We need to shake our heads sadly when we don't hear references to Yule or Hanukkah. And for goodness sake, we need to accept that some people are tying to cover everyone with "Season's Greetings" and "Happy Holidays" (which often include Thanksgiving and New Year's) and therefore commend them for the effort.

Maybe they should just stick to the day? On December 24th and 25th, it's ok to say Merry Christmas. On December 21st, how about wishing us a Happy Yule or Solstice? Hey, and starting December 21st, you could even wish us a Happy Hanukkah (and don't forget that on the 24th and 25th too). Any day where an actual holiday is not taking place, stick with the generic. It's not an actual holiday after all, it's a day within a season. That's a fair compromise.

I still believe what I said three years ago: that I'd rather hear what is important to you than suffer through you trying to guess what is important to me.

Now, this came up because I read an article this morning about the issue. I'm going to go somewhere else with this, and this is one point that I must say does upset me. An individual from Focus on the Family (a Christian organization) was quoted in this article as saying one of the group's efforts is to make sure retailers are not calling a Christmas tree a holiday tree. Christians, I would really like to know, what in the world does bringing a tree inside your home and decorating it have to do with celebrating the birth of the Christ? Seriously, there was no tree in the manger. Why must you be so adamant that a tradition that was not yours to begin with be slapped with your specific label? If it had significance to your holiday, I could understand it, but it doesn't. If you think it does, give me a Bible reference. The thing that puts the tree practice into the realm of your holiday is a completely unrelated tradition that took place during the time of the winter solstice long before the birth of the Christ was celebrated during that time. By the way, some people still celebrate that tradition, or a revival of it, or something somewhat related to it or based on it. So, shut up about your Christmas tree and give it back to the pagans who started the mess. It's not our fault that converts couldn't let go of it, but it has nothing to do with what you celebrate during this time of year.

That's all for my soapbox today.

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