Midwest Voices

Be of good cheer, Christmas warriors — you won

Updated: 2013-12-22T00:09:07Z


Special to the Star

Swift and sure as an overdue notice from the credit company comes the holiday season. And with it, its jolly bag of time-tested traditions.

What would December be without carols endlessly repeated on Muzak, cars with novelty antlers or the traditional one-upping of the neighbor’s lights? Yes, it’s that time again; perfectly reasonable people are wearing Christmas tree sweaters, egg nog and fruitcake have reappeared on the national menu, the frenzy of acquisition is in full swing.

And of course, perhaps the most beloved of our holiday traditions, the annual proclamations of a war on Christmas. To one who is, admittedly, somewhat on the outside looking in, the whole thing seems a bit puzzling. You can’t turn on a TV, be put on hold, or really go out in public at all without being constantly reminded that, yes, Christmas is definitely coming.

And yet, every year the same old talking heads trot out the traditional yule narrative: Liberals and dark, swarthy foreign types are colluding to swipe Christmas and replace it with Nonspecific Ecumenical Winter Joy Period. So in the interest of harmony, world peace and the spirit of the season, I would like to say to concerned celebrants:

You won. You won. Congratulations.

Seriously, you got it. You got the media, the tunes, the popular culture, everywhere. Go to a store any time after, say, mid-November. Christmas stuff? Tons of it. Trees, decorations, toys, cards, everything.

As someone who’s poked around the local Target hunting for the one lonely end-cap with a few Hanukkah goods on it, let me tell you: You won. Of course, frankly, Christmas was never really in any danger.

It’s not as if anyone was really going to ban it outright — like the Protestant-led Parliament under Oliver Cromwell did in the 1650s. Or the Puritans did in Boston in 1659. And they didn’t even have American Civil Liberties Unions.

But the fact is, any time Christmas has been any under real threat, it has been from inside, not outside. And yet, it seems you cannot move for howls of outrage at the very idea that not everyone is on board the Christmas train.

Let someone point out that tax dollars from citizens of all faiths are being used to display what is essentially an advertisement for one particular religion, and the blowback will knock you straight on your yule log. Or if a store clerk says “happy holidays” then suddenly it’s a conspiracy of epic proportions.

But maybe I’ve got it wrong: Maybe there is a war on Christmas. Maybe it’s a war of greed and avarice, where generosity becomes supplanted by Black Friday riots. Where peace on Earth and goodwill toward men is washed away in a tide of staking turf and drawing lines in the sand.

Every time someone fights over the last coveted gift item, the war is there. Every time some talking head goes on TV to tell you your most sacred and beloved traditions are under attack by the dreaded “OTHER,” the war is there.

Well, that I could understand. That’s a war that draws us all in, demands the best of us to overcome. And I don’t know if we will, honestly. But I tell you this: Losing a word is never as bad as losing the idea behind that word.

And that is the real danger Christmas faces.

Kelly Luck works in information technology. She lives in Kansas City. To reach her, send email to oped@kcstar.com or write to Midwest Voices, c/o Editorial Page, The Kansas City Star, 1729 Grand Blvd., Kansas City, MO 64108.

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