The politicization of the Christmas holiday

Published 8:07 am Monday, December 22, 2008

By By Tray Smith
Wednesday, an out-of-town friend called dismayed that the Christmas card he received from my family featured the religiously neutral slogan “Happy Holidays.” I, of course, have also been sensitive to using “holidays” to describe the religiously significant Christmas season, and promptly asked mom why we used the politically correct greeting.
The incident served as a laughable reminder of how ludicrously political certain traditions have become, and of how the politicization of everything in our society is corroding everything in it. In the process, the gentleman’s agreement that “politics stops at Christmas” has been shredded and greeting card messages are now determined by political ideology.
The innocent victims of this phenomenon are the thousands of mothers, who, like my own mom, sent out Christmas cards this and other years with the hope of spreading good cheer and found themselves in the midst of controversy. That controversy is political in nature, although the issues biggest demagogues have successfully cloaked their grievances as religious sensitivities.
President Grant, who in 1870 first declared Christmas a federal holiday, must surely be rolling over in his grave as his effort, which was launched to unify the then recently reunited states around a common tradition, now generates annual division over the “War on Christmas.” Jesus Christ, who is notably deprived of a grave to roll around in, must still wonder why his followers have become so insecure in their celebration of his birth they now take offense to, among other outrageous insults, hearing “Seasons Greetings” in the check out line at Wal-Mart.
Christmas’s most courageous defenders deride political correctness for sprouting the “holidays” in an unnecessary attempt to pacify the sensitivities of groups – atheist, Jews, Muslims, etc. – whose sensitivities need not be pacified. Yet, as this vocal group condemns others for taking offense at things that are not, in fact, offensive, they also take offense at the good intentions of Christians and non-believers alike who simply want all to share in the holiday tradition. Through intimidation, these crusaders have utilized the political correctness they rail against to make their own agenda politically correct, and forced retailers and public institutions to say “Merry Christmas” by employing boycotts and other threatening tactics.
Meanwhile, I woke up last Wednesday to a pile of tasks- scholarship essays, college applications, malfunctioning electronic equipment and school related activities - that will prevent my holidays from being anything near a vacation. Regardless of the extra chores, I am thankful I will have time off to visit friends and bond with family members, and celebrate priceless annual traditions with the same group I have always joined on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. After an exhausting political season, I for one am glad to have this season upon us, and I do not want it to be the least bit political. Whether it is Christmastime or the holiday season, this truly is the most wonderful time of the year, and I intend to make the most of it. After all, I never forget why I celebrate Christmas, regardless of the slogan on the cards of my family and my friends, and regardless of the phrase repeated by America’s multitude of Wal-Mart greeters. Merry Christmas.
That’s the bottom line.
Tray Smith is a former page in the U.S. House of Representatives. He can be reached at His column appears weekly.

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