Christmas is a remarkable time of year, capable of bringing out the best (and sometimes worst) in most of us. This year most of the discussions about Christmas have revolved around somewhat overhyped fears about political correctness forcing replacement of the celebration with the generic "holiday" term.
Because next year marks the 125th anniversary of The Columbia County News-Times, we thought it would be a fun exercise to reprint some Christmas remarks from the distant past of the newspaper and its predecessors (below).
In researching these items, it was instructive to learn that what we now think of as "political correctness" isn't as recent a phenomenon as some would believe.
For example, in 1887, The Columbia Sentinel (an earlier version of The News-Times) published an editor's commentary, reprinted faithfully today, that repeatedly refers to "Xmas." These days, a newspaper might be picketed for abbreviating Christmas.
And how about this: On Dec. 25, 1952, The Columbia News devoted its entire front page to a few pieces of seasonal artwork: A cat playing with Christmas stockings, a family decorating a tree, some ornaments and holly, and a large wreath with Santa Claus peaking through.
The illustration contains four text greetings; the word Christmas appears exactly once, in the phrase "Christmas Greetings and all good wishes." The rest say "Holiday Greetings," "Happy Holidays" and "We offer our best holiday greetings and pledge you a bright and merry Yuletide season."
Certainly, 1952 America - and Columbia County - was a much different place. Then, no one was offended at "Merry Christmas" because the effort to chase religion from the town square had not yet grown. And no one was offended at "Happy Holidays," because at the time it wasn't intended the way it often seems now: As a bland, offend-no-one greeting that in fact offends plenty of people by so strenuously avoiding mention of the "C" word.
Here in the present, the good news is that today is unmistakably Christmas. It's also the first day of Hanukkah and a week before New Year's Day, and thus merits a true "happy holidays" greeting.
But it's also perfectly OK - preferable, even, for most folks - to simply say as we do here: Merry Christmas.
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