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Christmas Commentary Uncategorized

Hillsboro’s War on Christmas

A demonstrator dressed as a Santa Claus is arrested by riot policemen during clashes with students in Santiago

Two things burrow their way under my skin every year at Christmas, two sides of an ugly coin. The first and generally loudest are the inevitable cries about “a war on Christmas” that, at some point each year, generally when ratings are ebbing, are spewed by right wing trolls and other despicable human beings gleefully exploiting the fears of the waning evangelicals. Bill O’Reilly, the particularly cynical and slimy Fox provocateur, is one of the worst of the breed, but he is by no means alone; any right wing loudmouth looking to grab a ratings point or two can play the game.

Just as bad, and sometimes worse, are the hyper-sensitive knee-jerk liberals determined to protect the huddling masses from the onslaught of what they perceive as sectarian propaganda—the loudly mewing left who, if they could, would prove the spastic fears of the overwrought right to be absolutely on target—the delicate flowers who would indeed wage war against Christmas, if they could.

All those bastards, left and right, drive me crazy—worse than Donner went when he saw Rudolph’s Vegas-strip nose. We don’t have a War on Christmas. We don’t need a War on Christmas. Stop pretending there is one. Stop plotting to begin one. I mean, it’s Christmas, for chrissakes! Lighten up.

Santa under arrestAnd that brings us to the most ludicrous story from last week: officials in the Hillsboro, Oregon (a suburb of Portland, which should explain a lot) issued a memo instructing teachers and staff not to include Santa Claus in their seasonal decorations. Specifically:

“You may still decorate your door or office if you like, but we ask that you be respectful and sensitive to the diverse perspectives and beliefs of our community and refrain from using religious-themed decorations or images like Santa Claus,” the Hillsboro School District said in a letter to staff, television station KATU reported.

Full disclosure, lest you think me a stealth Christmas Warrior—I’m actually a fire-breathing atheist, deeply resentful of the intrusions of Christianity into my life, my children’s education, every level of our government, and so forth. I understand the compulsion to liberate children from the perpetuation of bronze-age superstition as a guiding force in our culture, but I’m also as deeply concerned with power structures that would force blind secularism on our day to day life. Christianity is deeply embedded in our culture and our children should not be shielded from it. Indeed, I believe that we are doing a great disservice to those children when we shroud them from one of the dominant streams of our culture by not preparing them to function in a reality that is filled with people who identify as Christian. This is not the place to be ostrich-heading.

But, but, but…I hear a dozen of my friends sputtering over being “forced” to face Christianity when they shouldn’t have to, if they don’t want to, and I’m truly sorry about that. I even understand: I had to spend a few days in Baltimore several years ago, something no good western Pennsylvanian wishes upon even the worst of enemies. I saw Ravens jerseys and ball caps everywhere, and I survived. My children did not become Ravens fans because of the exposure. We may even have developed a grudging sort of respect for them and their strange beliefs—we understand them a little bit better. Nothing leads to anger, resentment, and conflict faster than ignorance.

It is utter madness to ban Santa—Santa!—who ceased to be a primarily religious icon decades ago. If anything, Santa represents generosity, kindness, fair play and morality—values I believe to be universal. He also stands for marketing and commercialism, but not ever icon is perfect. Still, I’m okay with being a little more sensitive to overtly religious icons—crosses, angels, manger scenes—but I’m stuck on this idea that maybe instead of all this fear of offending we reach further for some real understanding. Instead of throwing Rudolph and Santa and all that stuff out of school, instead of banning stuff we—drum roll—practice inclusion. Give me Santa. Hell, give me shepherds guarding their flocks by night but let’s hear about the Maccabees, let’s hear about Ramadan.

I know there is an adamant mass of folks who stridently cling to the conviction that America is about white people sitting around and sternly respecting our Hebrew god, but the America I see—even in my corner of northern Appalachia—is generously populated with Hindis, Muslims, Jews, Buddhists and others in mind-bending subsects, diversity within diversity, and I don’t think it is overly idealistic to believe that a lot of our domestic problems—and eventually our international problems—could be mitigated if we actually knew who the people we’re always so eager to dislike actually are.

In the meantime, let’s skip the war on Christmas, both the perceived and the proposed.

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art Christmas Funny and/or Strange

Weird Christmas Card of the Year

4 X 6

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Christmas Funny and/or Strange meme

Christmeme: Disappointed Jesus

One thing is certain, The Lord haveth great sweaters.

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Christmas Photo I Like sheer awesomeness Uncategorized

Skiing Santa

Have you been to Driggs, Idaho?  If you have, then you’ll know this is pretty much run of the mill stuff.  I pinched these from my friend Teresa, who lives there. The name of guy on the skis is Jesse Cooke, and right now he’s my hero. These pics will go viral momentarily…
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Photo I Like

Christmas Countdown Has Started

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Funny and/or Strange meme

Monday Meme: No Doubt About Santa, Though

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Christmas video

Tunesday: White Christmas

The Grandaddy of old Christmas videos…and the best-selling single of all time. Bing Crosby & Danny Kaye, with a special vocal surprise if you listen through to almost the end (around the 2 minute mark).

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Christmas Commentary Funny and/or Strange Uncategorized

Nation’s Oppressed Christians Huddle Underground…

And in the latest news from the War On Christmas…

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Nation’s Oppressed Christians Huddle Underground To Light Single Shriveled Christmas Shrub

UNDISCLOSED LOCATION—Persecuted and driven into hiding because of their beliefs, the nation’s oppressed Christians reportedly huddled in a secret underground bunker late Wednesday night to decorate and light a single withered Christmas shrub.

At great personal risk, the Christians were said to have smuggled in a few strings of colored mini lights, tinsel, popcorn garlands, Hallmark Keepsake ornaments, and other contraband in order to trim the shrub inside the subterranean chamber, the last place in America where they were safe to celebrate Christmas.

“We have come together today to observe a Christian holiday that has been all but stamped out on the surface,” said a man who wished to be identified only as “Greg,” after hanging a figurine of Mickey Mouse dressed as Santa Claus from one of the shrub’s boughs. “I can’t say this humble bush is much of a Christmas tree, but it was the largest we could manage to get here, given the circumstances. Let us remember, though, that to merely celebrate Christmas—to exchange gifts and eat our candy canes in peace—without the government or the powerful secular elite coming in and destroying it is a blessing in itself.”

“They want to bring an end to our holiest day,” he added, as several others erected a 3-foot-tall light-up Grinch and plastic signpost bearing the words “Santa Stop Here” behind him. “It is up to us to keep Christmas alive.”

After double-checking on the chamber’s entrance hatch to ensure it was tightly closed and locked, Greg then reportedly led the gathered Christians in hushed renditions of “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen” and “A Holly Jolly Christmas” as the shrub was lit.

Those in attendance, many of whom had trekked hundreds or even thousands of miles, spoke of the great sacrifices they had made solely so that they could look upon an actual Christmas tree with their own eyes. A number of the Christians recounted how they had secretly carried a brightly painted plastic nativity scene and an inflatable 7-foot-tall snowman to the secret site, the latter item having been trafficked across three states in a truck with a false bottom. Others mentioned how they had sewed a few star- and wreath-shaped sugar cookies into the linings of their coats to avoid detection by the masses who sought to erase their holiday—and ultimately, their entire faith—from American life.

Reports confirmed that many who had arrived in the hidden underground sanctuary immediately broke down in tears upon being greeted with the forbidden words “Merry Christmas,” a phrase none had heard spoken openly in years for fear of harsh reprisals.

“It was difficult and dangerous to get here, but it’s all worth it to actually be able to celebrate the birth of Jesus,” said a 42-year-old teacher from Virginia who refused to give her name as she helped flock the shrub with a spray can of fake snow and arranged gifts of Yankee Candles and Amazon gift cards underneath its meager branches. “Unfortunately, this is the only way we can practice our beliefs now that corporations, the media, and our elected leaders have all conspired to remove every trace of Christmas from the country.”

“I just want to make sure my kids know what Christmas is really about,” she continued, adjusting the plush reindeer antlers atop her head and switching on her glowing Rudolph nose.

After the Christmas shrub was lit, the Christians were reportedly grateful to partake in other sacred traditions without fear of interference or abuse, such as the reading of the 2005 storybook classic The Elf On The Shelf and the viewing of grainy VHS copies of A Charlie Brown Christmas, The Santa Clause, and other beloved films that had been passed down through the generations.

Sources confirmed that as the evening drew to a close, all of their wrapping paper, Christmas cards, and fabric Santa hats were burned in trash cans to erase any evidence of the shunned celebration. The wary Christians then reportedly removed all incriminating green-and-red items from their persons and dispersed in small groups so as not to attract attention from federal authorities.

“Make sure your little ones destroy their stockings before you leave and empty their pockets of any trinkets or bells—they mustn’t have anything on them that jingles,” one man was overheard saying tearfully to a friend before embracing him and slipping off into the night. “I’ll see you again next December, God willing. Stay safe out there.”

God Bless The Onion writers, each and every one…

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Christmas Photo I Like Uncategorized

Beautiful Christmas

I occasionally indulge myself in “willful preoccupation” by scouring the internet for holiday spirit, particularly in holiday form. One of my favorite Christmas photo themes is “other peoples’ holidays”.

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Photo from Micheline on Flickr

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Christmas Photo I Like

Christmas in Syracuse

This image is going viral on Facebook. The tag says it is Syracuse–but it reminds me of Europe–looks really nice, so way to go Syracuse….photo credited to Jody Grenier,
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