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Thursday, December 15, 2011

Job Well Done

I do believe the transformation is complete: so far this season I have not once heard the dreaded word "Christmas" in any radio or television commercial, nor seen it in any print ads. In fact, the only use of the word at all I have seen in media intended for mass distribution was this morning (and boy was I taken aback), in the monthly handout for commuters published by Metro North Railroad (a gummint institution, no less), wherein their Christmas Day schedule was announced (I guess there was no easy way to get around the word). Atheists will be relieved to know, however, Metro North atoned for that sin elsewhere in the bulletin where, in a list of suggested seasonal activities, a visit to the "Holiday Tree" in Rockefeller Center was recommended.

All in all, however, it's probably for the best this de-Christianization of Christmas, for in these times the moment anyone suggests some sort of public observance of the feast, self-appointed advocates of "fairness" will leap up and demand equal time for the other religions and so begins the trotting out of the menorahs (and since "Christmas" trees are no longer allowed shouldn't menorahs be called "Holiday candelabra" or some-such?), Kwanza decorations (how odd that a manufactured holiday celebrates the harvest at the onset of winter) and, of course, some sort of Islamic equivalent even though there is none (never mind that, we'll just put up a great big crescent, preferably right over the crèche the Catholics put up earlier, right next to the angels and Frosty the Snowman).

In a similar vein, your crabby old Bloviator vigorously eschews "ecumenism" of any sort, for in the end it is only a declaration of the tepidity of one's own faith. One will never find, and rightly so, any nod to or borrowings from Christianity in orthodox Jewish services, likewise for Islamic, Hindu, Zoroastrian and other faiths' observances. I will never forget a community service I attended years ago in the well-to-do Connecticut suburb in which I grew up, in an Episcopal church (naturally), that concluded with the soprano soloist, accompanied by large chorus and orchestra, recessing down the aisle bellowing Hava Nagila at the top of her lungs. In the audience was my childhood piano teacher and when I saw her later she was in high dudgeon: "They're apologizing for being Christian," she said angrily and loudly and she was absolutely right. This Christmas, don't apologize for being Christian. Atheists and non-believing members of other faiths are the only ones who might take offense and quite frankly, they need to be offended.

One non-Christian who never took offense at the celebration of Christmas was a former neighbor of mine, an observant orthodox Jew (he attended schul daily at 7:00 a.m.) and a Holocaust survivor. Every year, on Christmas day, he would bang on the door of my apartment, boom out a "Merry Christmas" and invite me over to his and his wife's apartment next door to sample some of his fine single-malt scotches. He was a godly man.

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