You know it's the Christmas season again because of all the complaining that it isn't Christmas anymore.
Not like it used to be. Not like back in the day before P.C. when it was a wonderful life and people used to say "Merry Christmas" at the company Christmas party and Hanukkah didn't get equal time and the city set up a nativity scene on the courthouse steps and the town choir sang "Oh Christmas Tree" and "Oh, Come, All Ye Faithful."
It sure isn't 1990 anymore.
I was reminded of this in an e-mail sent by a group called GrasstopsUSA.com.Among their points about Christmas just not being Christmas:
- Costco, Wal-Mart, Sears, Kmart and Kohl's won't allow "the dreaded C-word in their advertising."
- A Lowe's store selling fir trees in Texas calls them "Fresh Cut Holiday Trees."
- The city of Denver banned a float in its holiday parade for having a Christian theme.
- The school district in South Orange, N.J., banned playing "Silent Night," even instrumentally.
- All this, in a country that the e-mail reports is "85 percent Christian more Christian than Israel is Jewish; more Christian than India is Hindu."
I think I'm supposed to be alarmed by all these revelations. But I'm not. Being a part of the 85 percent Christian majority, I'm glad we're not throwing our weight around, all Taliban-like.
I can just see the Puritans and Quakers and Baptists and all those other good Christians who first came to America to flee religious oppression smiling their approval.
If the people in charge were saying we couldn't call it Christmas on a private basis, now that would be a big problem. Not only couldn't we all fit into the Mayflower, but let's face it, there's really nowhere for 250 million people to flee to escape religious oppression.
What would our options be? The Australian Outback? The Northwest Territories? Karl Malone's house?
But no one is restricting private celebrations of Christmas in America any more than they are restricting private practicing of religion. This is still The Place for religious freedom now more than ever as population and religious denominations increase.
The longer I live, the more I believe that what this growing country needs is more sensitivity to others, not less.
If that means publicly turning Christmas into a "winter holiday" so no one is offended or feels left out, what's the harm?
Isn't that the true spirit of Christianity? When Jesus said "Be slow to take offense," and "turn the other cheek," did he put in an asterisk that said, "other than when people mess with Christmas"?
The Jesus I read about and believe in would be the last person to be appalled because "Hark the Herald Angels Sing" was taken off the song list that the fifth grade will be singing at the mall. He wouldn't bat an eye at eating holiday pudding at the company buffet.
The last thing he'd want is bickering and snarling at his birthday party. The best present he could get is if we all got along and made sure everyone had a coat to wear and enough to eat.
As it says in the last line of "O Little Town of Bethlehem," "where meek souls will receive him, still, the dear Christ enters in."That's Christmas, no matter what anyone calls it.
Lee Benson's column runs Sunday, Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Please send e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org and faxes to 801-237-2527.