"This hyper-sensitivity to religious minorities requires gross insensitivity to America's majority religion. You know, the one that begins with "C."
My, what a ruckus rages among us because some of the estimated 96 percent of Americans who claim Christianity as their religion of choice dare to protest some of the other 4 percent who think this month's most popular, freedom-from-work day should never be more specifically defined -especially if it begins with "C."
Predict a winner in the ratings sweeps all across oral, printed or pundit land and the unanimous choice would have to be that battle between the world's newest "four-letter words," the ones that begin with the letters "H" and "C."
Pick up a newspaper and turn to the editorial page; click the remote to any newscast or opinion show; or scan the neon-studded messages outside every consumer-driven business all over town and you know what I mean.
If it's December, and if we're talking about that, uh, day near the end of the month when, apparently for little reason, families gather, work stops, and more gifts than any of us gives or receives the whole rest of the year are exchanged.
But, have you noticed? Although at the beginning of the, uh, seasonal dilemma, the "H" side seemed to be winning hands down, in the past couple of weeks there have been a significant number of deserters from the 4- percenter ranks. Though many "H'ers" were trying religiously (oops!) to obey a recent Supreme Court ruling -which someone has dubbed "The Three Reindeer Rule" -by making sure there are as many secular items in their, uh, seasonal displays as there are menorahs, wise men, or C-shaped trees, it looks like the "C" crowd is edging back into the lead at last.
For example, after someone pointed out a smaller sign under Lowe's outdoor "Holiday Tree" display that read, "Christmas tree stands sold inside," the company scratched the "H" word and re-joined the "C-driven" crowd. Also, every day the sign outside a prominent Washington Road restaurant sports a different area establishment's name -and adds their spelled-out "Christmas" greeting underneath. And if you scan the ads and signs for, uh, seasonal gift suggestions in any venue, you're apt to see the "C" word far more often now than that other fellow.
However, if you still want to maintain your hypersensitivity toward those who might be a teensy, weensy bit offended by the word "Christmas," perhaps the following suggestion by one of my writer friends will help:
"Continuing the current trend of large-scale mergers and acquisitions, it was announced today that Christmas and Chanukah will merge. An industry source said the deal had been in the works for about 1,300 years, or ever since the rise of the Muslim Empire. While details were not available at press time, it is believed that the overhead cost of having 12 days of Christmas and eight days of Chanukah was becoming prohibitive for both sides.
"By combining forces, we're told, the world will be able to enjoy consistently high quality service during the 15 Days of Christmukah,' as the new holiday is being called.
"A spokesperson for the former Christmas, Inc., has declined to say whether a takeover of Kwanzaa might be in the works as well. He merely pointed out that, were it not for the independent existence of Kwanzaa, the merger between Christmas and Chanukah might indeed be seen as an unfair cornering of the holiday market. Fortunately, for all concerned, he said, Kwanzaa will help to maintain the competitive balance. He then closed the press conference by leading all present in a rousing rendition of Oy, Come All Ye Faithful.'"
No matter who relents or merges with whom, should the controversy rise up again my favorite battle cry for the "C'ers" is the one shouted out by Alvin and his Chipmunks -or, if you must, "Hipmunks" -a generation ago, and reprised so delightfully by Grovetown Middle School's Sixth-Grade Chorus a few nights ago:
"All I want for Christmas is my two front teeth so I could withhh you Merry Chrith Chrith Chrith-math!"
No matter how many teeth you have or how you say it, that wonderful, seasonal, freedom-from-work day near the end of December sounds a thousand times better with a "C"!
(Barbara Seaborn is a local freelance writer. E-mail comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.)
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