Monday, December 19, 2005

And now, from the "You Ain't Gettin' Diddly Squat 'Cuz You Really Messed Up This Year" files and Yahoo! News...

Sudiegirl sez: OK...this crap is just getting out of hand! I mean, can we just get over our bad selves and relax a little bit? NO? OK...then I guess you know what I need to do. Catch ya at the bottom...

Battles rage in U.S. over celebrating holidays
By Ellen Wulfhorst 1 hour, 13 minutes ago

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Ebenezer Scrooge would enjoy Christmas in America this year. (Great...)

Drowning out the sounds of sleigh bells ringing and children singing are the sounds of arguing. At issue is how to greet people, how to decorate main street and how to sell gifts -- all without offending someone. (It sounds like it's not just the arguments...if you read the previous article about the crazy Santa antics in New Zealand, maybe Santa needs red velvet-texture Kevlar and some mace.)

Religious conservatives are threatening lawsuits and boycotts to insist that store clerks and advertisements say "Merry Christmas." Countering are those who argue they are being inclusive and inoffensive with the secular "Happy Holidays." (You know, I'm surprised that "Happy Holidays" offends people, really. I mean, if you don't know someone AT ALL, much less what their religious affiliation is, isn't it safer to say Happy Holidays? I mean, it'd be one thing if my best friend in the whole wide world didn't say "Merry Christmas" to me because she knows me and knows I'm cool with it. But if I'm a cashier, waiting on a customer and they had a fairly generic last name and no other indicator of religious preference, what do you expect me to do? I'd prefer to take the safer road and not proselytize in a single statement of holiday wishes, thank you. I know what I believe, and beyond that I'm just going to be careful.)

In the middle seem to be most Americans, who not only aren't offended but find the whole spat rather ridiculous. (See? See?)

"You'd think there might be some Christmas spirit around Christmas time around the issue of Christmas," said Paul Cantor, a popular culture expert and professor at the University of Virginia. "It's one time you really wish people really could live and let live." (Well, welcome to Christmas in America. It's the time of year when mild-mannered mothers go to Target and have fist fights over Tickle-Me Elmos and Cabbage Patch Kids. If you honestly think that Americans are going to live and let live, you haven't been here long enough. Try working retail...then you'll be a believer.)

Alas, that's not what this Christmas is all about. (Nope. It's about going to the movies and eating Chinese food afterwards.)

Sparks flew when U.S. President George W. Bush sent out cards referring to the "holiday season," a leading Republican declared the decorated tree on the Capitol lawn a "Christmas Tree" and not a "Holiday Tree" and the logger who cut down the tree for the Boston Common was so upset when officials called it a "Holiday Tree" that he said he'd rather see it fed into a wood chipper.
(Now see, that's just what I mean. Why can't people separate their personal opinions from their employment? I mean, your job is to cut down a tree. That's it. Nobody can take away what's in your heart unless you let them, so why let the antics with semantics get you down?)

Conservative groups have marshaled the forces of lawyers volunteering to help anyone fighting for Christmas displays and launched boycotts of retailers whose advertisements fail to say "Merry Christmas." ( probably rolling His eyes right now. Maybe not, but maybe so.)

A school system in Texas found itself in court after teachers asked children to bring white -- rather than red and green -- napkins to a party, while Annapolis, Maryland raised hackles by calling its evergreen boughs and ribbons on public buildings the "Hanging of the Greens" rather than "Christmas decorations." (OK...what's wrong with Hanging of the Greens? In my home church in Iowa, we always celebrated the Hanging of the Greens, we CALLED it "Hanging of the Greens", and nobody got all upset about it. They got all upset about using glass communion cups, and started a big ol' war about that, but not about the Hanging of the Greens.)

Fanning the flames are conservative talk show personalities bemoaning the secularization of Christmas. Fox News anchor John Gibson chimed in with a book "The War on Christmas: How the Liberal Plot to Ban the Sacred Christian Holiday is Worse than You Thought." (Well, as Black Sabbath says, "Paranoia will destroy ya!")

"'Happy Holidays' and 'Season's Greetings' are not a substitute for 'Merry Christmas,'" said Manuel Zamorano, head of the Sacramento, California-based Committee to Save Merry Christmas, which organizes store boycotts over holiday advertising. (Who says, besides you, Mr. Zamorano? Are you that paranoid that someone's going to take away your belief system? I'm not at all...there's been worse times for many people in life, and they still believe in what they believe...)

"Christmas is the holiday and 'Merry Christmas' is what we want to hear," he said. "It's political correctness gone amok." (OH BOY! MY FAVORITE WORD! AMOK, AMOK, AMOK!)

BLAME POLITICS (Can I blame Martha Stewart?)

Bah humbug, said radio talk show host Bill Press, author of "How the Republicans Stole Christmas." (OK...I'm just getting more and more annoyed as this article goes on, but press on I must!)

"People have been saying 'Happy Holidays' for a hundred years at least," he said. "This is nothing new. It just celebrates the diversity of America." (And we certainly are that...for good and bad.)

He blames politics. (See above for my official blame-ee.)

"It is all by design," he said. "The more people are talking about who's saying 'Happy Holidays' and who's saying 'Merry Christmas,' the less people are talking about Karl Rove, torture, Tom DeLay, the war in Iraq and other hot issues. (Are you sure about that? I mean, do you really monitor everyone's conversations? More paranoia, anyone? I take mine with sugar and cream.)

"And the more they stir up their evangelical Christian base over this issue, the more likely they are to get out and vote Republican in 2006," he said. (Yeah, but wouldn't they vote Republican anyway? That's not necessarily going to stop anything.)

The debate has become comic grist.

"Every time you say 'Happy Holidays,' an angel gets AIDS," warned television comedian Jon Stewart. (D'oh!)

The satirical newspaper The Onion wrote a spoof about a judge who declared Christmas unconstitutional, with a photograph purporting to be workers dismantling the famed tree at Rockefeller Center to comply with the judge's ruling.

Making the rounds on the Internet is a series of mock memos from a fake company inviting employees to a Christmas Party, complete with open bar, gift exchange and tree lighting.
By the last of the memos, the increasingly beleaguered company is forced to apologize to its Jewish employees, the office alcoholics, Muslims, dieters, pregnant women, gays and lesbians, union members, management, cross-dressers, diabetics and vegetarians. In the end, the party is canceled. (Fine by me...I don't like office parties very much.)


Stuck in the middle of the debate are retailers, whose seasonal selling campaigns seem to raise particular wrath. (Sigh...and those poor retail employees never really get a break from September to the middle of January, and then Valentine's Day rears its ugly head.)

"When someone says 'Happy Holidays,' they're saying something very nice to you. There's no ill intent behind any of this," said Dan Butler of the National Retail Federation. "When you're dealing with the public you'll get positive comments and negative comments about everything in the world." (At last! A sane voice amidst the madness...)

Perhaps, added Peter Steinfels of the Center on Religion and Culture at Fordham University, there isn't a war on Christmas after all but a more sensitive religious right. (No! Say it ain't so!)

Conservatives are using the super-fast Internet and e-mail to publicize what they see as extreme examples of "super politically correct conduct," he said. "It gives the impression that there's a great deal of political correctness ... when in fact it may not really be so different from the way it's always been." (Interesting view point...those insane e-mail chain letters should be illegal, the way they get people stirred up. As a matter of fact, my future mother-in-law is notorious for sending that crap, and when I asked her to stop she actually got mad at me and hasn't sent me an e-mail since. Bonus!)

Sudiegirl's final word?

Humans are nuts. 'Nuff said. Pass the cookies, dammit.

PS: images from,,, and Enjoy!