Friday, December 18, 2009

Keeping Christmas Traditions Alive

It's Christmastime! I mean no offense to those of you of other religious faiths, beliefs and ideologies, whatever they might be, but for me and most Americans this is traditionally the time each year when we put up our Christmas trees, sing Christmas carols, give Christmas presents and revel in the spirit of peace, love and goodwill toward man. And we want to keep it that way.

How is it that a small percentage of the populous is able to effect such radical changes to the sharing of beliefs and traditions of the majority in the name of diversity? Two words: Politically correct (PC).

Political correctness is about making people in society from diverse backgrounds feel like they are a part of the whole and not outsiders looking in. The eagerness of the PC crowd to prevent these groups from feeling like we are forcing our traditions and beliefs on them has led to some contentious battles and uncomfortable compromises, but most particularly during the holiday season.

Every year it starts up again, all this politically correct whining and fighting. Even though it should be a fun season of family togetherness and retail excess, it's an irritating distraction. You wonder, is this the year people finally relax and shut the hell up and let celebrations continue as they have for ages or will this be the year that even more people raise complaints to our intolerance to their beliefs and demand that we abandon our traditions in order to be more "inclusive."

Unfortunately it's looking like the latter again this year.

Recently I posted an article concerning the anger and emotion this issue generates each year and how exasperating political correctness can be in attempting to remedy these conflicts. Comments on that post from a couple of my favorite bloggers reflected these diverse feelings on the subject. While John from the blog, Coffeypot, questioned the actual fairness to those whose traditions and beliefs are being whittled away under the guise of tolerance, Tom from the blog Reinvention: The Journal of a Dog-Lover, Book-Reader, Moviegoer and Writer was more sympathetic to those whose beliefs run contrary to the established norms.

It's a debate that has been raging for years now, this question of whether there should be a ban on all-things Christmas in public schools, government offices and elsewhere in favor of some secular, non-specific holiday celebration that didn't offend anyone (well, didn't offend anyone except Christians, anyway.) Personally I think it's a load of crap and that if you feel offended or uncomfortable by the way the majority of Americans celebrate this holiday season, then either learn to deal with it or get out of Dodge. I apologize for my bluntness, but I seriously doubt any country anywhere has been as tolerant regarding others beliefs or traditions as we Americans have.

With all the different cultures and beliefs out there in the world, there is no way we will ever arrive at a solution that would meet with everyone's approval, so why try? In my humble opinion, I feel that it's unfair and wrong for people to have their traditions altered to pander to a different group that doesn't share those traditions and that if a country is decidedly Christian, as ours is, then that's the direction they should unapologetically follow. Why not be just as democratic about this issue as we would anything else and allow the sentiments of the majority to prevail? Unfortunately, though, that's not the way things work here.

Over and over Christians have had to take one on the chin because some non-Christians felt uncomfortable with everyone around them enjoying a traditional religious holiday that they didn't share. And rather than being tolerant of others and letting the majority just live and let live, they decided that the majority needed to instead be tolerant of them and their beliefs. Which is why "Merry Christmas" is slowly morphing into "Happy Holidays," and "Christmas and Easter Break" became "Winter and Spring Break" and why we now see signs for "Holiday Trees" instead of "Christmas Trees," and things like that.

It happens at Easter and Halloween too. And it seems the young, impressionable children are always the excuse that is used to wage politically correct warfare. “Oh, my kid can’t be exposed to Halloween costume parades because that just glorifies paganism and is affront to their beliefs.” But unfortunately it’s not enough that the children sit this one out like other students who are religiously banned from saying the Pledge of Allegiance or celebrating other holidays. No, the entire school has to cancel the festivities so the few who can’t celebrate don’t feel left out. So now everyone has to lose out on what was a fun and memorable activity for children for the sake of a few party poopers.

Don’t blame the schools for pulling the plug in these instances. They don’t really have a choice. If they don’t, then the parents can and usually will sue the school district and probably win, which means less money for the kids and a bigoted reputation for the school, neither of which any school can afford. It’s your classic no-win situation. Ironically, it’s these same kids, often with parents in tow, that seem to show up at your doorstep Trick-or-Treating. This makes me think that they are just looking for a public challenge to their beliefs to grab some headlines and/or piss-off the general public. It’s so unfair.

This is why we need to change not just the laws, but the attitudes of these people who believe that it is okay to disrespect our beliefs but insist that we sure as hell better respect their beliefs. If you want to honor your beliefs and traditions, then do so at your home on your time. But don’t come between me and my Santa Claus and my Christmas tree. If you or your children don’t feel comfortable around these items, that’s your problem and you deal with it. But asking others to do without just so you can feel better is stepping way over the line.

Some compromises have been made in schools and other places by allowing side-by-side displays of other religious symbols (menorahs, Kwanzaa candles, etc.) with the Christmas decorations, and I can see that as being an acceptable solution, but just telling a group to ignore years of traditional behaviors for the sake of widespread acceptance or some displaced guilt feelings is absolutely stupid.

If it is acceptance that you require, whether it is respect for your celebrations of Ramadan, Diwali, Hanukah, Yule, or some other holiday, then it is acceptance that you must give to us as well. It’s a two-way street and you can’t have it both ways.


  1. Except for Voting of leaders, 'majority rule' regarding Religious Traditions can be detrimental and abstrusive. And, how long should a 'tradition' infiltrate the majority of of society? I think we've tried to move up Christmas to Septmember?? Enough is enough.

    Keep Religious Traditions in the home so that it is fair to everyone. If a Country is going to be a 'melting pot'...then lets keep all religions out in the open/public, or keep them all in the privacy of the home and not forced in the face of the public.

    I have nothing against Christmas for its traditional aspects. But, it's like cigarette smoking, don't blow it in my face.

  2. I think that political correctness has gotten out of hand. Why can't we all just be respectful of everyone's beliefs?

  3. Tom, here's a personal a friend, I know you will indulge me, and understand...

    When I was a kid, one thing that always put me in the giddy spirit of Christmans was "How The Grinch Stole Christmas."

    I could never imagine having a Christmas without a tree, a star, decorations, lots of food, and presents (toys!). I was even in shock when, in second grade, a girl I knew said her family didn't celebrate Christmas...because they were Jewish, and they did different things. What? No presents (toys??) on Christmas morning? No Santa Claus? No tree or lights? No Christmas carols? I told her she was weird.

    (Funny, but she always did participate in the singing of carols and the classroom decorations. Maybe at that time it wasn't such a big deal...or maybe she was scared of kids like me making fun of her again. Perhaps both.)

    Anyway, when I watched "The Grinch", I was amazed at how the Whos could come out singing even when their holiday was stripped of all of the trappings that made it meaningful to me. I started to understand that there was something else there to be happy about.

    Now, when I watch it (yes, I admit, guilty as charged, at 50+ years LOL)...I still get that warm feeling...and hope there's a Jewish girl out there, now my age, who has forgiven me.


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