Well, it’s that time of year again, when the annual battle between secularists and religionists is again engaged, though not as virulently as in the past. However, the question still remains: Will we be having a Merry Christmas or a Happy Holiday?
Last year, here in Durham, neighbor to the liberal hotbed of Chapel Hill, the “Christmas” trees that once graced the lobbies of the Wilson and Davis libraries at UNC’s Chapel Hill campus during December are now being kept in storage. You can ask a custodian to let you in to take a look at them if you want.
Sarah Michalak, the associate provost for university libraries, told the local newspaper that she made the decision “after several years of complaints from employees and others.” Ahhhhhh … “others.” It’s been my personal observation that when someone says “and others,” that usually means “and n’others,” which means it was a personal, unilateral decision. My guess is that you can chalk up the complaints to Ms. Michalak herself, after she had a couple of lattes with grinchy professors who don’t like people who have faith in something that doesn’t have tenure and who don’t have the stones to identify themselves.
Michalak added, “It doesn’t seem right to celebrate one particular set of customs. We strive in our collection to have a wide variety of ideas.” She should have added, “Except Christmas.”
It was The Clintons I believe who first named (I was going to say christened) the White House tree “The Holiday Tree,” after many years of service as the National Christmas Tree. Since so many Christians and non-Christians have been calling these delightful evergreens Christmas Trees for hundreds of years, I got to wondering what changed.
In fact, I believe the famous Christmas Tree mounted yearly in Rockefeller center is called the national tree, or some such degrading label.
With curiosity nipping at my toes I learned that it was the discovery of Fragment 3872-J, a little known scrap of Dead Sea Scroll that sheds light on the season we used to call Christmas, and by extension the trees we use to celebrate it.
The scroll reveals that one of the Three Wise Persons had traveled afar from a land that worshipped another God and it wasn’t Jesus Christ. This Wise Person said she was alienated by the name Christ and her feelings were hurt by the celebration in the manger. Being good virtual Christians, Joseph and Mary charitably changed their newborn’s name from Jesus Christ to the more inclusive Jesus Holiday.
This is why, through the ages, when some people take the name of the Lord angrily in vain, you’ll often hear them shout, Jesus H. Christ. The “H” is for Holiday, his other name.
Thus the Holiday Child was born, but His true name wasn’t known until the discovery of Fragment 3872-J. The History Channel tells us it’s possible that the Knights Templar hid the fragment along with the Grail, billions of dollars of gold and jewels, secret codes, maps to safe houses and a book of biblical recipes they felt would undermine growth of the Christian faith and the politically correct holiday we used to call Christmas.
Fragment 3872-J also discloses that a lowly shepherd, who was milking a goat at the time, asked the offended Wise Person why she bothered to come to Bethlehem in the first place and she answered, “because they gave us time off at the office.”
Since the inevitable elimination of Jesus from his own birthday is just around the corner, I say let’s go all the way and get it over with. Without Christ, the only reason for celebrating the season is the gift-giving.
First, let’s remove the disturbingly exclusionary religious star that often tops these trees and replace it with a symbol even liberals and the ACLU can accept — the dollar sign. Hell, why not make the whole tree out of money. What could be more constitutional in this multi-cultural, diverse, church-state separated, anti-traditional, sophisticated, intellectual, secular, democratic country of ours! If one thinks that a dollar atop our tannenbaums is crass, an appropriate alternative might be an attractively designed, all purpose, gift certificate.
We must then eliminate all but constitutionally appropriate decorations for this religiously neutered tree. Surely decorative lights don’t violate the constitutional provisions of separation of Church and State — unless someone says they do, and then the courts will say they will.
Candles are also out, of course. Even though they’re an essential item on liberal dinner tables, next to the chardonnay. They can’t shake their nasty association with Catholic Churches. This goes double for angels, which are a religious creation from the get-go and should be banished. In their place I’d suggest small icons of celebrities advertising gift giving products — cut outs of the Olsen Twins wearing their fashion line, Teri Hatcher coloring her hair with Clairol, Donovan McNabb eating some Chunky Soup and Michael Phelps listening to music on his new Matsunichi thingie.
Which brings us to Santa Claus. If he’s not a constitutional problem now, he will be when the church-averse warriors of the ACLU realize that he was once “Saint” Nicholas. “Saint,” as you know, is an official trademark of the Catholic Church and some high protestant denominations and Santa is suspiciously close to that offensive word. The dilemma is that Santa does bring our kids all those toys, which is clearly in the domain of the secular. What to do!
The answer is simple. A name change, to something neutral like, oh, say, Roger. Roger Claus. Or perhaps something more appropriately childish like Chip or Scooter. Scooter Claus is especially good because Santa won’t have to change the monograms on his towels. Other cultures could create culture-specific Clauses like Akeem Claus, Moishe Claus and Jomo Claus, to name a few. Noam Chomsky could call him Adverbial Claus, were he inclined to think about him at all.
To complete a totally neutral Holiday season, all decent, Christian haters need to monitor Holiday music. That means no Christmas Carols unless offensively religious words are changed or removed. Some examples already in the works are “Silent Night, Mellow Night,” “Aliens We Have Heard On High,” “Oh, Come All Ye Lemmings.” Irving Berlin’s classic would now be “I’m Dreaming Of a White Snowfall.”
Christmaphobes will be pleased to learn that a version of Charles Dickens classic titled “A Holiday Carol” is on its way. In it, Scrooge is visited by spectres of Holidays past and future and finally rejects Christmas when he is confronted by the Ghost of Richard Dawkins. And we should re-title that classic Christmas film “Miracle On 34th Street” to “Rationally Explained Event On 34th Street.”
These changes should be made quickly, I think, the way you rip off an adhesive bandage in one yank rather than the lengthy, more painful gradual removal. It’s worth remembering, however, that once you’ve taken Christ out of Christmas there’s no putting Him back. The only alternative is to continue fighting to keep Him around.
Oh! Merry Christmas, everyone.