As I write, Christmas is just weeks away.
Each year the drum beat seems to get progressively louder. Secularists clamor to water down Christmas displays with gaudy arrangements that must include Frosty the Snowman and candy canes. Then they call for the outright removal of manger scenes and even the Christmas tree. Conservatives have dubbed this the “War on Christmas.”
I have never understood why people who claim not to believe in God are so troubled by others who believe in His existence. It doesn’t trouble me when people believe that Elvis is still alive. To borrow from Hamlet, the atheist “doth protest too much, methinks.”
Last year Governor Lincoln Chafee of Rhode Island renamed the Christmas tree a “Holiday tree” in the name of inclusivity. So in order not to offend anyone, Chafee ignored the obvious fact that the 87.5% Christian population of his state might be offended by this politically correct shot over the bow. Only 6% of Rhode Island self-identifies as non-religious (thanks, in large measure to Brown University).
“O Holiday Tree, O Holiday Tree” just does not have the same ring. This year, Chafee did it again, but he was smarter. To avoid last year’s protests, he gave only 30 minutes notice before the tree-lighting ceremony. Nothing suggests that public sentiment is on your side more than surreptitious behavior. Never mind that the White House “Christmas tree” was lit just a few days later.
4 Ways We Can Handle the Christmas Holiday:
1. Leave it alone
I celebrate Christmas. Jews celebrate Hannukah or Chanukah (and they can spell it however they like because it is THEIR holiday. They cash in on Christmas shopping deals and I got a day off from public school on Yom Kipper and Rosh Hashanah.
I may have inappropriately said “Happy New Year” on the Day of Atonement, but my Jewish neighbors didn’t seem to mind. In fact, they appreciated that I was trying to be respectful of their tradition. This is the way most people feel about the holidays.
2. We have competing holidays at the same time.
In this scenario, you can’t be satisfied unless Kwanzaa is more popular than Hanukkah or Ramadan (or Ramadan gets more attention than Hanukkah depending on your persuasion). Moreover, all minority holiday celebrants must envy Christmas.
Borrowing the Marxist narrative, Christmas is bad because it is celebrated by the majority, where all of the smaller [proletariat] holidays are self-evidently virtuous.
Festivus for the Rest of Us
Festivus has sprung up a humorous alternative to the traditional Christmas holiday. In the last season of Seinfeld, George’s father celebrated Festivus “for the rest of us.” Festivus is celebrated on December 23. It includes a plain aluminum pole (to distinguish itself from the Christmas tree) and the “airing of grievances.” This was a funny Seinfeld episode, but it highlights the adversarial thinking I am talking about here. Can’t we just be respectful of each other?
3. We have only one standard holiday
This seems to be what the president of the American Atheists wants.
As our society increasingly unhinges from its mooring, someone will always be offended by what another person does. Our default solution is to make it accommodating for all, as if doing that will somehow satisfy all parties. More often than not, this solution leaves everyone dissatisfied.
What would one standard holiday look like? Cross the efficiency of the post office with the effectiveness of the public school system and I think you will have a sense of how bland the Winter Solstice holiday will feel. Just be sure not to bring religion into it–that is not polite.
4. Add a holiday.
Maybe we should add an extra holiday in January for the rational free-thinkers who are offended by Christmas as a Federal holiday. Sure it will be one more lost day of productivity for the economy, but when we spend billions on non-productive bailouts, this will be a drop in the ocean.
Moreover, free thinkers will have their holiday or “Reason-Day” or whatever they want to call it. And, it should take the edge off of the silly argument that the government is “establishing a religion” by creating a Federal holiday that acknowledges that no one wants to go to work on Christmas anyway.
This is my olive branch to the politically correct atheists and it actually might be a good idea.
We can position Reason Day in late January when most people have already broken their New Year’s resolutions to lose weight, get out of debt, and generally be a better person. Reason Day will be a stark reminder of our need to be better humans.
Moreover, another highly commercialized holiday would be great for business. If we have learned anything about economics from the mainstream media, it is that shopping helps the economy.
This would be a win-win scenario. The only reason that the Atheists wouldn’t embrace this generous offer would be if the “War on Christmas” was not about “equal rights,” but about something else–the removal of Christianity from the public square.
I just hope the Reason-Day cookies taste good.
What are your thoughts? I would like to know.
-Darin Gerdes, Ph.D.
December 10, 2012
Dr. Gerdes is the Director of the MBA Program at Charleston Southern University