Monday, December 11, 2006

Keeping The Holidays Religious

What can be said in a holiday opinion piece that hasn’t been said in other newspapers throughout the country during this time of year? Instead of reading the traditional “holiday good cheer” and “giving to those less fortunate than yourself,” how about this: Let’s keep the holiday season religious!

According to the Associated Press, the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport removed Christmas trees after a rabbi asked to have a menorah up along with them. When airport officials refused to add the menorah to their display, Rabbi Elazar Bogomilsky was dismayed by the decision and threaten to sue. As a result, instead of dealing with different religious holidays and celebrating them, the airport decided to take down the Christmas trees.

Has it gotten this bad that an airport could not put up one menorah up? Or worse yet, it is when public schools remove the word “Christmas” from concerts so no one will be offended.

Back in 2001, Kensington Town Council banned Santa Claus from being at a tree lighting event because they agreed with a few citizens of the Maryland town that Old Kris Kringle does not have a place in a “secular celebration.” Luckily, a large group of Santas arrived during the event and protested the ban.

Sadly, these are just a few out of many similar incidents that have happened throughout our country in the past few years. It’s happening not only in the classrooms and small towns but in private businesses, and even in some extreme cases, on our own front lawns. For those who are not familiar, here are a few examples of the changes being made: It’s not a snowman anymore; it’s called a snowperson. A Christmas tree is now called a holiday tree. It’s as insulting as calling a menorah a “candlestick holder.”

Enough is enough. Not only is it ridiculous, it’s a restriction of our freedom of speech. How are we supposed to teach true diversity to our children if we are taking the word “Christmas” out of a Christmas carol, or we are not allowed to have a Mishumaa Saba or a menorah in the front windows of our homes or lawns for that matter?

In our politically correct society, while we are running around trying to change things so no one will be hurt or offended, we have caused one of the greatest crimes of the 21st century: we are sterilizing the holidays. That’s right; we are in the midst of wrapping Christmas, Chanukah, and Kwanzaa, and placing them in a plastic bag while wearing a bio-hazard suit, so no one will be contaminated with holiday cheer. In doing so, we are murdering the spirit of the season and making the three so bland and indifferent, they are lost in a blizzard of alleged “diversity.” Their life will be sucked out and left as lifeless and tasteless as stale fruitcake.

The holidays are who we are. It’s more than just Santa Claus or a dreidel, but the religious meanings behind them. It’s about the miracle of an oil lamp burning for eight nights, when it should have burnt for one. It’s about the miracle of celebrating a seven-day festival to rejoice in a proud heritage. And, it’s also about the miracle of a baby boy born in a manger to a virgin mother.

Therefore, this season sing “We Wish You A Merry Christmas” while decorating a 9-foot Christmas tree, or spin a dreidel so big you need three people to help you as you sing “The Dreidel Song.” Scream out the meaning of each of the seven values of Kwanzaa with a bullhorn. But whatever you do, do not let anyone stop you from celebrating the holidays because it may offend someone. (Of course, do it responsibly. No one wants to hear the “The Twelve Days of Christmas” at two in the morning by someone dressed as Frosty the Snowman in their backyard.)

And if someone is offended and complains about your celebration or displays of whatever holiday/religion you are celebrating, tell them to stick it up their stockings! It is their problem if they are not mature enough to handle the holiday seasons.

While political correctness has changed “mailman” into “letter carrier,” and “janitor” into “custodial engineer,” let’s not let it change the holidays or their meanings. Let’s celebrate them not in the politically correct way but the diverse way: not changing them at all and celebrating them the way they were meant to be. That way, maybe we can learn something about our neighbors and ourselves. Remember that our Constitution guarantees us the separation between government and religion, not citizen and religion.

And no matter which religion you practice or holiday you do or do not celebrate, The Times Observer wishes you Merry Christmas, Happy Chanukah and a joyful Kwanzaa and Seasons Greetings to all!