Tuesday, December 25, 2018

Ho, ho, ho! Merry Christmas to all, and to all “please lighten up!”

Christmas, as most of us know, is an observance celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ. It was a joyous and very special event from which Christian religions grew. Wise men came from afar to give the baby gifts, and over time that spirit of giving gradually evolved from a religious observance to include the giving of gifts between family and friends that occurs in many countries across the globe. 

The giving of gifts to children is an aspect that came to include the Jolly Old Elf, Santa Claus, or some other “bringer of gifts,” who delivers presents to the “good little girls and boys.” 

The celebration of Christmas is both a religious observance with annual programs in churches, and a wondrous display of lights and other decorations, benevolent giving, and good will. 

For centuries in the U.S. and elsewhere the religious and secular observances existed together in perfect harmony. Everyone enjoyed Christmas for what it meant to them and those that observed the birth of Jesus were also most often eagerly involved in the giving and receiving of gifts, putting up the tree and decorations, and the gathering of family.

But as the evolution progressed, more and more Christmas observers honored the secular aspects of the day more than its religious origins, and a lot of folks who celebrate Christmas today are not Christians and do not celebrate Christ’s birth on December 25th.

And now in this, the Age of Hypersensitivity, Christmas religious traditions have become unpopular with many people, and instead of quietly and politely leaving alone those who celebrate the religious meaning of the day to enjoy it as they have for so long, a faction now has determined that religious elements are offensive to them and demand their removal so they will not be made uncomfortable by their presence.

This now widespread Christmas discomfort is not quite to the level of full-scale protests, but headed in that direction, particularly where public displays are concerned. 

Religious symbols are becoming, or perhaps are already, as unpopular as symbols of the Civil War, despite the historical value of those symbols of our past. For example, a 34-foot cross that was erected nearly 50 years ago at Pensacola, Florida’s Bayview Park has been ordered removed by a federal judge after 4 people started an action because they saw the cross when visiting the park and were unable to cope with that experience.

A federal appeals court ordered another large cross to be removed last year. Constructed in 1925 at a busy intersection in Bladensburg, MD to memorialize soldiers who died in World War I, it was deemed offensive because some saw “religion” when driving through the intersection, rather than the purpose for which the monument was privately financed and constructed.

A three-judge panel heard the case, which was decided by a two-to-one vote. Chief Judge Roger Gregory dissented, noting that the government is not required by the First Amendment to “purge from the public sphere any reference to religion.” This point no doubt will zoom past the complainers, who see only their personal displeasure and discomfort, which, of course, is more important than anything else.

The First Liberty Institute, which supports religious freedom, and represented the American Legion in the matter, said the decision “sets dangerous precedent by completely ignoring history.”

Where Christmas is concerned, the fact that without the growth of the observance of the birth of Jesus there would be no Christmas for people to enjoy with gifts, parties and decorations. Despite this, the offended masses think that reminders of Jesus’ birth, like nativity scenes with the baby, mother Mary and father Joseph, and the three wise men, send them into a panic, even as they open their presents under the tree.

This penchant for manic criticism of Christmas has come to include complaining about seasonal songs. Some in their imagination see sexual impropriety in the decades-old Christmas song "Baby, It's Cold Outside" and think that because some relatively small number of people believe this, that the larger number who see it for what it is – a flirty song that they have liked all their lives – should be banned, denying pleasure to the many because of the objections of a few.

“Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer” is seen as encouraging bullying, rather than a song describing how Rudolph became the leader of Santa’s crew.

In what may be a sign of “things to come,” the iconic gingerbread man has been attacked by a coffee shop at the Parliament of Scotland. The political body has now demanded they be referred to as “gingerbread persons.”

Some people think that anything that makes them uncomfortable or that they don’t like for whatever reason should be immediately and permanently removed, without any consideration given to the thousands or millions who value and appreciate those things.

And what on this Earth cannot be found offensive by some small group?

However, all that has been said before must not be interpreted as a “Bah, humbug” recitation from Mr. Scrooge.

To those who celebrate Christmas: Merry Christmas!

For those who do not: Happy Holidays!

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