Thursday, December 23, 2021

Of Many One, Yet Each to Their Own

 There are some times I just want to yell, "Stop the Weihnachtspyramide (aka Christmas carousel), I want to get off." This is one time of year I feel that way. Christmas Day is fast approaching.

We can count on some political difference that will arise just as we sit down to eat along with some disagreement over football predictions. There are the in-laws, the out-laws, the folks being introduced to the family for the first time (God help them), and thank goodness, the neighbors who will keep us all fairly civilized less we embarrass ourselves in front of God and everybody. But all in all it is family, our family, gnarly tree and all, with its dysfunction, warts, and skeletons. I wouldn't trade it for anything. 

This season is where I start to have an issue. Our society has changed. As we have moved into this century and our population has become more diverse, the number of religions practiced in these united states has increased. At the same time, like it not, we have become more secular. This is not to say we have all become devil worshipers or joined a Wicca cult. Life is just more complicated. 

I am tired of hearing "Keep the Christ in Christmas" just as I am weary of protests against the creche on the town square. Yes, the Christmas season was orginally the time to celebrate the birth of Jesus, the son of God and leader of the Christian faith. But Christianity is just one of many religions among us. In trying to keep Peace on Earth (or at least at home) and Goodwill Toward Men, perhaps we should look around and accept that we are a nation of many. With the exception of the Native Americans, we all arrived here from foreign soil bringing our many faiths and beliefs with us. My father's family came from Scotland only 4 generations ago. My mother's family was orginally from Wales and Scotland. 

Some people say, I just wish Christmas was like it was in the ol' days. You know, like one sees in the works by Norman Rockwell or Courier and Ives. Well, it pretty much is - those paintings are of families gathering, festive outdoor scenes, sleighs in the snow - all the nostalgia we hold so dear. It is everyone's right to celebrate the holiday as they wish or not. It should also be everyone's place to respect those who do not share your values or norms. We have moved on, like it or not. 

No one is taking away the celebration of Christ's birth, the churches will still have their services. Albeit practicing social distancing as we all come together. (Only in these days does this make sense.) Yes, the commercial side is here to stay, thanks to Coca Cola's iconic picture of Santa Claus in 1931 and Francis Pharcellus Church's answer to little Virginia O'Hallon's letter to the editor in 1897. Fighting among us to define the modern Christmas season is about as effective as asking 5 blind men to describe an elephant - everyone has their own personal take on it.

Rather fight for turf and declare what Christmas SHOULD be, perhaps in this busy world when we never spend as much time as we should with one another and never have as much time together to build memories for the future as we did years ago, let's be thankful for the holiday season from Thanksgiving to New Years. Whether you are a devout Christian celebrating the birth of Christ, a member of the Jewish faith celebrating Hanukkah, an African American sharing Kwanza with your family, a Buddist honoring Rohatsu, a Pagan worshiping the Solstice, or just someone who wants to take the time to stop and celebrate life and the joy of those around us - this is the one time we can. 

I was reminded of this just this morning when I was reading about Starbucks taking the "Merry Christmas" and other Christmas motifs off their red coffee cups for the season for fear of offending some. The malls no longer put up "Christmas Trees" - they are now "Holiday Trees". And it is hard to find "Christmas Cards" in the Hallmark store. Shouldn't we drop the political correctness and embrace each other. I am not offended by the menorah that I may see displayed or holiday lights in blue white of the Jewish faith. Kwanza decorations do not threaten me. Instead this all reminds me that of many we are one. We should embrace all beliefs and move forward.

A horrid correlation could be to the Third Reich in Germany as they ascended to power, Germans found everything for the people homogenized - just as the Fuhrer wanted. We don't want it all the same, we don't need any one group fussing that they "were first", it is "their holiday", no more than we want laws that say it is all just a "Holiday" versus what it is to you. As far as I'm concerned, you should be able to enjoy the holidays, celebrate them as you wish, and call them what you want to. Have we become a nation of wimps with tender feelings hurt by the threat of change and diversity? 

Yes, there is a reason for the season - to celebrate life, love, and family. To carry on whatever traditions you may have, crazy as they may be. But more than that, it is a time for us to respect our neighbors as they celebrate as they wish, call it what they may, and perhaps we can learn something along the way. 

As for Starbucks and their red cups. I know still what they stand for. I would like to see "Merry Christmas" and the traditional motifs return but that is their decision. After all it is not what is on the cup - it what is in it. As for the holidays - its not what they are called but how we choose to celebrate them and more importantly that we do have the right and freedom to choose as we wish.

As Toby Kieth said;

"Red solo cup you're more than just plastic
You're more than amazing you're more than fantastic
And believe me that I'm not the least bit sarcastic
When I look at you and say [ ] you're not just a cup."

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