It turns out an atheist group bought a billboard near New York’s Lincoln Tunnel saying, “You KNOW it’s a Myth. This season, celebrate REASON.” Several Christian groups and the Newark Archdiocese publicized their disgust in the advertisement. Spokespersons for the atheist group say the billboard is a jab back at Christians who have monopolized the holiday season.
Oddly enough, the morning before I read the article, I saw a Fox News anchor (not a commentator free to offer her opinion, but an anchor) badger a city official in Oklahoma about changing his town’s Christmas parade to a “Holiday” parade.
A few weeks ago the newsroom staff went to the Stardome for an office party. We saw comedian John “The Ragin’ Cajun” Morgan, who is one of the best performers I’ve ever witnessed. Near the end of the show, he screamed to the audience something like, “I’m going to say Merry Christmas to you, and if that offends you, you can just DEAL WITH IT.”
The way some people talk, I honestly believe they expect a fist fight every other time they wish a stranger Merry Christmas.
It seems like a lot of people are making a stressful holiday more difficult by engaging in paranoid hysteria about persecution from the other side. I think a lot of the time good, level-headed people get worked up from the rants of the nutcases who talk the loudest. I’m looking at you, conservative talk show hosts. I would be looking at the liberal talk show hosts, too. If there were any.
I promise there are no roving gangs of atheists waiting to tear down Nativity scenes. And there are no bands of right-wingers plotting to paint Jesus’ picture on the U.S. Constitution.
For the people who share the concerns of Morgan, I can tell you this: Even as a latte-sipping liberal who vehemently supports the separation of church and state, I would never be offended by someone saying to me, “Merry Christmas” — or Happy Hanukkah, or Kwanzaa or Festivus or any greeting that was sincere.
If someone happens to tell me, “Happy Al-Hijra,” they’ll get a hearty, albeit slightly delayed, “Happy Al-Hijra to you” back. Al-Hijra is the Islamic new year, and I most certainly had to look that up.
That being said, there is indeed a War on Christmas, but it’s not coming from some nefarious group of outsiders. It’s waged by us.
We wage it every time we scream at a store clerk (who believe it or not is someone’s daughter or son) over a gadget that our loved ones will lose in two weeks. Or every time we come close to a nervous breakdown from worrying about family drama during holiday gatherings — excuse me, Christmas gatherings. Or every time we go into serious credit card debt to buy people we hardly know stuff they don’t need.
I know that’s a horrible way to think of such a meaningful holiday. But I would be lying if I said I didn’t see it more than the heartwarming stuff. I understand that much of the stress stems from parents desperately scheming to give their kids a single day of joy. I know there are some wonderful things about this time of year, though. I’ve written so many stories in the last month about people stepping up and reaching out to those in need.
I’m by no means calling for the end of Christmas. I don’t think parents should start making their children endure hours of puritanical Bible study rather than opening gifts on Christmas Day. I just wish we could remember that we’re celebrating this holiday to honor someone whose only wish was that we love and look after one another.
Daniel Gaddy is a staff reporter for the Daily Mountain Eagle and a Walker County native. He can be reached at email@example.com