You see, I love Christmas. I mean, I've run across people in my life who decorate for Christmas way more than I do, and I've known people who plan their Christmas six months in advance, way before I do. I know a guy whose house decorations for Christmas put the local shopping centers to shame, and focused his whole year around Christmas. Maybe if you saw me, or saw my barely decorated little house, you wouldn't think so, but I love Christmas.
This year, we broke with a lifetime of tradition in two ways.
First, we got an artificial tree; a friend uses the term petrochemical tree, but since plastics are made from fossil fuels, I think I'm going to call it a fossil tree. Except that it's not ancient tech at all. The latest generation trees have gotten away from looking like, well, green toilet brushes and they use molded branch ends that look remarkably like a real pine. The tree has built in LED strings in four colors, so we put the sections together, stood it up, plugged it in and started decorating the rest of the house.
The other way we broke with tradition was in putting up the fossil tree on December 2nd. Previously, we'd put up a tree on the Saturday before Christmas - as long as it's a week to 10 days or so. This year we would have done it last Saturday, the 16th. This was followed by decking the rest of the house in holiday decorations.
Christmas is unique among holidays in America. It has a very strong Christian tradition (well, duh!) as well as very strong secular traditions, and I love them both. I love giving gifts to loved ones and friends. I love the old favorite songs and the whole feeling of this time. The gift-giving secular tradition is so big that people in retail will tell you that Christmas often determines whether or not they stay in business. Getting back to the Christian traditions, another aspect of the holiday is the annual struggle to "keep Christ in Christmas" and not overlook the spiritual side of the holiday. Did you know there is actually a court ruling that tells you how many reindeer (three) a holiday display must have to remain "sufficiently secular" to be legal to display on public property? If I have three or more reindeer on display, it's secular, but if it's only two reindeer, I'm obviously trying to convert you! Even two and half, say two reindeer and a package of reindeer sausage, won't make it secular enough. You've just got to know that when lawyers are deciding that "three is the number and the number shall be three", someone had to suggest two and a half.
Every year you hear about overzealous morons somewhere deciding that the most innocuous secular symbols are too Christian. This year, the ubiquitous charge of racism joined the party as we learned that "Jingle Bells" is racist, joining "White Christmas" which was first singled out in 2014. Colleges are at the heart of this fake diversity fest. Take this 2014 notice from the University of Maine (emphasis in the original - as well as the two spelling errors in one sentence):
“Just wanted to remind everyone that Aux Services is not to decorate any public areas with Christmas or any other religious themed decorations,” the email states. “Winter holiday decorations are fine but we need to not display any decoration that could be perceived as religious.”Hate to break it to them, but candy canes are nowhere to be found in Christian scriptures; nor are wreaths, trees, or decorative lights on those trees. And even if they were, an absence of religious symbols isn't a diversity of views, it's presenting only one view: the atheistic view. Diversity would be to allow other faiths to participate in the displays.
“This includes xmas trees, wreaths, xmas presents, menorahs, candy canes, etc.,” the email says. “What is allowed our [sic] winter themes, snowmen, plain trees without presents underneath, decorative lights, but not on trees, snow flakes, [sic] etc.”
“[T]he university makes every effort to ensure that all members – students, employees, alumni and the public–feel included and welcome on campus. Decorations on the UMaine campus are therefore reflective of the diversity found in our community,”
As we go through the last days of the Christmas season, take time to enjoy it and your loved ones. If you feel a need to get some perfunctory gift for someone you'd really rather not give to, I say don't. That's some sort of bizarre social ritual, not Christmas. Don't put yourself in debt for Christmas; even if it means the kids get a "meager" holiday. It won't hurt them and may just help them. If you're one of those who say they'd just as soon skip the whole thing - I say skip it. It's still a federal holiday, so you have that going for you.