Away With The Manger

All right. I haven’t blogged about this whole Christmas controversy yet. You know, whether stores like Target, Wal-Mart and Macy’s should wish people a “Merry Christmas” or the pc and benign “Happy Holidays”.

I’ve been following it all; been reading the reports and the blogs. I’ve followed some of it on Hannity and Colmes and O’Reilly. I’ve talked with pastors and others who are pretty worked up about it. I’ve even gone so far as to spend some of my Christmas shopping money at a store other than Target and Home Depot. I wonder if those folks hate the song “Here Comes Santa Claus” because a line says “let’s give thanks to the Lord above, Cause Santa Claus comes tonight.”

But here’s my problem with the whole thing: Christians are just as guilty of ignoring the religious aspects of the day as non-Christians. Today I did a little shopping for our Christmas party and stopped by Circuit City and Sams. I was also at the school for Delaney’s shopping with Santa day. And you know what? Only once did I hear anyone say “Merry Christmas”.

I said it to everyone I spoke to but all I got in return was “happy holidays”. The one person who said it was a Circuit City employee saying it to another customer. I asked the cashier what they’ve been told, if anything, is allowed and she said no one has instructed her on saying it or not saying it.

I understand the concern that some people have. I share the concern. I don’t like the fact that the Christmas tradition is fading away while the generic “happy holidays” seems to be taking over. But the fact remains that if Christians (and there’s several millions of us out here) were to stay true to the tradition, there’s little these stores could do to rip it from our thoughts.

“A Charlie Brown Christmas” was on tv last night. Remember that one? Linus reads the Christmas story right out of the Bible. My first thought, while watching this again was “good thing they came out with this one in 1965 and not 2005 or that would never make the cut”. Well, guess what? It nearly didn’t.

Even back in the “good old days”, tv executives worried about putting the Bible on network television. That night, nearly half of the tv viewers in the country watched “A Charlie Brown Christmas”. And they’ve been watching it every year. Last year, according to USA Today, 13.6 million people tuned in. It won an Emmy and was the first of more than two dozen Peanuts specials. And does anybody remember “The Little Drummer Boy” special? I don’t know if anyone still shows that stop-action special anymore. I haven’t noticed it in the TV Guide.

A few years ago when I was the religion reporter for WREG I wanted to do a Christmas story in which several people would read the same Christmas story that Linus does. They wouldn’t let me do it. I guess they thought the Christmas story might offend someone on Christmas morning.

Unfortunately, most corporate executives don’t have the guts the CBS producers had back in 1965. They’re so afraid of offending a customer by saying “Christmas”, they’re ordering employees not to say anything other than “Happy Holidays”. Wal-Mart, Goldsmiths, Macy’s and Lowes have reversed that decision.

So here’s what we should do. If you celebrate Christmas and want to continue seeing shows like “A Charlie Brown Christmas” and want to continue buying “Christmas trees”, we should make a point to say “Merry Christmas” every time. No more “Happy Holidays”.

And for those who disagree, you better warm up the old “happy holidays” for the other holidays on the calendar. “Happy St. Patrick’s Day” might offend the Irish. “Happy Valentines Day” might offend single people with no boyfriend/girlfriend. “Happy Fourth of July” just might offend people from other countries who live here now (especially the British). “Happy Birthday” might offend people turning 40 or 50.

Or…maybe we could all just lighten up. Maybe we all could just learn to get along with other people’s beliefs and traditions. Maybe we all could be a little more tolerant. If someone believes something I don’t, maybe I won’t get all upset because I have to see it or hear about it.

So Merry Christmas. Happy Kwanzaa. Happy Hanukkah.

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