One of the early signs of the Season is when the headlines are filled with stories of nativity scenes being banned and Christmas trees becoming Holiday trees, causing such angst among some people that they offer to fight, literally fight, to keep their Christmas unscarred. Maybe this post is one of those signs as I enter the fray and put in my two cents. Indulge me.
I am a Christian. The quality of my Christian path is open to debate and will not be the baseline for this essay, though I would love it to be on another occasion. As a Christian, I celebrate Christmas for the birth of my Savior and for the great joy it brings my family and many, many others. But I don’t want my personal joy to trample one single hair of the man, woman or child who worships another way.
If a public school has multi-religious students, they should not be expected to forcefully ‘celebrate’ the birth of Jesus as I do at home. My preference is for all religions to have their proud moments on the school calendar allowing for a bit of cross-culture growth. Fortunately (and probably not by coincidence), Christmas and Hanukah fall during the same period, and it’s easy to light a menorah and sing about dreidels at the same time we light a beautiful evergreen and sing of shepherds and wise men. What on earth is the harm? And if the school has Muslim students and they want to celebrate Ramadan or something similar, let the non-Muslim children learn something new. Kwanzaa is still new to most of us, but what is wrong honoring an African tradition?
Bottom line, there is room for us all, but let’s not bastardize the season. A Christmas tree is not a Holiday Tree attempting to please everyone. Whatever institution takes the time to put up a tree should take the time to add a menorah if their visitors or employees or students prefer. Religious schools are, of course, exempt since they were founded for the purpose of growing a certain faith. But Christmas to me is not a time to proselytize. It is a time to celebrate what is important to me. Forcing a member of another religion to submit to my holiday without regard for his is not a very Christian way to be, in my opinion.
At the same time I will not become politically correct to mask my religion. In my home there will be a tree, nativity scene and no other religion’s symbol; it’s MY home. And when I greet a friend or stranger from now ‘til December 25th, it will be with a joyous “Merry Christmas!” I’m proud of who I am and will gladly share my joy of my holiday with all. For this same reason, I am flattered when a Jewish friend offers a “Happy Hanukah” to me. He wants me to enjoy what is important to him. I do not correct him to remind us both that I am Christian and do not want his blessing. How selfish is that? A clearly spoken “Merry Christmas to you” in return makes all happy that their personal beliefs are not only respected, but shared.
The Athens Patch is read by mostly open-minded folks who I presume feel the same as I. But I’ve been wrong before. Please set me straight if my views are contrary to your own. I promise to be nice. ‘Tis the Season.