The Bishop and the Butterfly: Murder, Politics, and the End of the Jazz Age
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    It's Hard to Be Merry At Christmas When It's "Merry Christmas" Or Else

    The last time I wrote about Christmas I thought I was being pretty polite, considering the message I was getting from my friends and relatives and neighbors at the height of the War on Christmas.  To wit:  How DARE you even THINK about not wishing me a Merry Christmas!  Which, of course, led me to respond by pleading "not guilty"--which caused me to tell a lie at Christmas since I didn't feel the least bit guilty. Why would I?


    I say "Merry Christmas" quite a bit at Christmas time.  I've been saying "Merry Christmas" and "Happy Holidays" ever since I could say the words, which, I'm guessing, was around December, 1939, when I was just over two years old.  Sometimes I say "Have a great holiday!" without mentioning which holiday I mean when I say that.  There are times when I say "Happy New Year!", forgetting to say "Merry Christmas", even though it may be several days before Christmas.  I can't help it.  It just comes out.

     For weeks now I've been getting those admonishing Facebook posts and emails about keeping Christ in Christmas by saying "Merry Christmas". (As if, if we don't keep repeating those words, everyone will forget who Christ was.) 

    I hadn't planned on writing yet another blog about the "war" on Christmas.  Even Bill O'Reilly himself is getting bored with it. I can tell.  (He has now declared the war is over and he won it.) But today I received the email that was the straw that finally broke it.

    It was an email from a dear friend and the subject line read, " MERRY CHRISTMAS!"  The picture that topped it was an old fashioned Currier & Ives etching with digital snowflakes falling, falling, falling.  A colorful "Merry Christmas" banner arched over the top with a bright red ribbon wreathed with holly and ivy.

    So lovely. . .

    And this is what it said:

     
    I will be making a conscious effort to wish everyone
    a Merry Christmas this year ...

     

    My way of saying that I am celebrating

     

    The birth Of Jesus Christ.

     

    So, I am asking my email buddies,

     

    if you agree with me, to please do the same.

     

    And if you'll pass this on to

     

    Your email buddies, and so on... maybe we can prevent one more

     

    American tradition from being lost in the sea of "Political Correctness".

     

     

    What. On. Earth.  Really??  At risk of never receiving another Merry Christmas greeting from any of you ever again, I'm going to say this and I hope you will take it in the spirit in which it is given:

    What is wrong with you people?

    It's Christmas!  Millions of us love this season.  We look forward to it, we read about it, we sing about it, we who are parents can't wait to experience it with our children.  We plan, we decorate, we bake, we go shopping, we party.  We find a million different excuses to hug each other.  We hang mistletoe just so we can kiss under it.  

    We fill food baskets and donate money because it's Christmas and there is nothing sadder than the thought of someone not enjoying the holidays.  Our happiness is so acute we smile at perfect strangers and wish them good tidings.  Joy, my friends, is busting out all over.

    Many of us only go into a church at Christmas time;  some of us not at all.  I love the story of the baby Jesus.  I love Christmas carols. (Last night I watched the St. Olaf Choir Christmas Concert from Norway on PBS.  It was beautiful--a mix of the sacred and the secular--like Christmas.) I love the happy faces.  The candles.  Nice.  All nice.

    But let's talk about Christmas tradition:  The Christmas song "O Tannenbaum" was based on a 16th century tune, put to secular lyrics in 1824. 

    Charles Dickens wrote "A Christmas Carol" in 1843. While it ends with, "God bless us, every one!", it's a morality tale about the rich holding terrible power over the poor.

    Irving Berlin, a Jewish songwriter, wrote "White Christmas" in the late 1930s and it became the most popular Christmas song of all time.

    Charles Schultz's "A Charlie Brown Christmas" was released in 1965 and has been shown every year since.

    We love "Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer" and "Let It Snow" and "Have yourself a Merry Little Christmas".  We love red and green and silver and gold.  We love twinkly lights and Santa and snowmen.  And elves.  We love elves.  WE LOVE CHRISTMAS!

    And you're spoiling it for us.

    It takes all the fun out of it when you think you get to decide for us how we're supposed to spend Christmas.  For you, Jesus is the reason for the season. Amen to that.  For us, it's a wonderful, happy holiday that is open to so many interpretations you could get the idea it's mainly about peace on Earth, goodwill toward mankind.

    But we would never know it now, what with this sudden ruckus about putting Christ back in Christmas--as if there were sinister factions out there trying to erase him for all eternity, the main weapon being two words: "Happy Holidays".

    If Christmas means Christ to you, there is no better time than the Yuletide to celebrate him.  But you simply cannot butt into our celebrations, Grinch-like, throwing wet blankets all over our happy days.  If there is a war on Christmas, it's a one-sided battle and it's coming from you. You can have it.  For me, it's the happiest, happiest time of the year.  I feel love in the air and I plan on enjoying every minute of it.

    Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, Happy Hanukkah, Happy Kwanzaa, and a joyous New Year.

    Comments

    A wonderful post, Ramona. Just great. It takes a Virgo to really understand the joy of Christmas.


    Is that what it is?  Our being Virgos?  Lol, I don't know, but I do love Christmas and I can't remember another time when it has been so politicized.  Who would have ever thought? 


    You may find this interesting.  Back in the 17th century, Cromwell banned Christmas Carols. 

    During the Puritans’ rule of England, celebrating on 25 December was forbidden. Singing yuletide songs then was a political act, writes Clemency Burton-Hill.

    When it comes to revolutionary protest songs, what springs to mind? Billie Holliday’s Strange Fruit? Bob Dylan’s Blowin’ In The Wind? Sam Cooke’s A Change is Gonna Come? I’m guessing the humble Christmas carol is probably low on your list of contenders, but in mid-17thCentury England, during the English Civil War, the singing of such things as The Holly and the Ivy would have landed you in serious trouble. Oliver Cromwell, the statesman responsible for leading the parliamentary army (and later Lord Protector of England, Scotland and Ireland), was on a mission to cleanse the nation of its most decadent excesses. On the top of the list was Christmas and all its festive trappings.

    http://www.bbc.com/culture/story/20141219-when-christmas-carols-were-banned

    The Puritan's also practiced this when they came to New England. 


    The promoters of the Christmas war, remind me of the Temple merchants whose tables were overturned by Jesus.  

    Today’s merchants of Christmas, religious and commercial interests, don’t want anything to overturn their money making plans.

    It isn’t about the Sacred teachings of Jesus; these new merchants really care about; just as it wasn’t for the ancient merchants who defiled the Sacredness of the Temple when Jesus showed his disgust over their greediness.

    The Church leaders and their Christmas supporters , putting financial gain, ahead of pure worship.  

    Churches benefit from promoting this war because their parishioners thinking they are rendering a Sacred obligation, never understanding the true nature of Christmas.

    The commercial interests whose only concern is capitalizing on the ignorance. Not caring about it, other than it's profitableness.

    There are people who make money in war and this is just another cause to fight for monetary gain.  

    Be safe Ramona and may God bless us everyday.


    Very thoughtful, Resistance.  Thank you.  More than anything, Christmas has always been a time for sharing love.  I think Jesus would find that a worthy use of his day.  May your holidays be joyful.  Merry Christmas.


    There never was a war on Christmas. That's just a strawman set up by the right wing to rile up the base. For example as long as Christians have been celebrating Christmas by sending cards Christians have been sending cards that say, "Happy Holidays." Now its suddenly not ok. Then the politicians get voted in based on the faux outrage they created and create legislation that gives Christmas gifts to all their rich buddies. And its Ho Ho Ho all the way to the bank. The sheer stupidity of the conservative base is astonishing.


    When I was a child, someone taught me to crochet. I loved doing it, but I only knew the barest minimum of how, so my efforts were pretty sad. I decided to make a shawl for my mother for Christmas. So I did ... I couldn't do corners, so it was more or less a big, holey scallop shaped thing with two pieces of yarn to tie it around the neck. I couldn't wait to give it to her, I just knew it was the best present ever!

    My mother wore that incredibly ugly thing to church that Christmas morning. I can still see her standing beside me, smiling proudly as we sang. I remember the look in her eyes when she told friends I'd made it for her.

    That's love. And that's what this season will always mean to me -- it doesn't cost a thing to give someone the greatest gift they'll ever receive.

    Merry Christmas, everyone! I wish you love.


    Too nice to clutter up with a comment, but I will anyway. Just Lovely.


    “The Jesus of history is a Middle Eastern Jew who advocated free healthcare and fed the poor. That’s the nightmare of Bill O’Reilly! That’s about the exact opposite of everything Bill O’Reilly thinks.” -Reza Aslan

    Salon did a 2 articles on the author and professor Reza Aslan.  Very interesting read, if you have not read them yet.  The articles was published last month. He talks about how Christianity historically began and the start of Evangelical Fundamentalism.  I think it ties in with the war on Christmas. It also gave me lots to think about. 

    http://www.salon.com/2014/11/17/reza_aslan_destroys_biblical_literalism_the_gospels_are_absolutely_replete_with_historical_errors_and_with_contradictions/

    http://www.salon.com/2014/11/13/reza_aslan_shatters_gop_beliefs_jesus_from_history_was_the_nightmare_of_bill_o%E2%80%99reilly/


    This about sums it up for me.

    Lyrics from Jackson Browne.

    THE REBEL JESUS

    All the streets are filled with laughter and light
    And the music of the season
    And the merchants' windows are all bright
    With the faces of the children
    And the families hurrying to their homes
    While the sky darkens and freezes
    Will be gathering around the hearths and tables
    Giving thanks for God's graces
    And the birth of the rebel Jesus

    Well they call him by 'the Prince of Peace'
    And they call him by 'the Savior'
    And they pray to him upon the seas
    And in every bold endeavor
    And they fill his churches with their pride and gold
    As their faith in him increases
    But they've turned the nature that I worship in
    From a temple to a robber's den
    In the words of the rebel Jesus

    Well we guard our world with locks and guns
    And we guard our fine possessions
    And once a year when Christmas comes
    We give to our relations
    And perhaps we give a little to the poor
    If the generosity should seize us
    But if any one of us should interfere
    In the business of why there are poor
    They get the same as the rebel Jesus

    Now pardon me if I have seemed
    To take the tone of judgment
    For I've no wish to come between
    This day and your enjoyment
    In a life of hardship and of earthly toil
    There's a need for anything that frees us
    So I bid you pleasure
    And I bid you cheer
    From a heathen and a pagan
    On the side of the rebel Jesus

     

     

    Merry Christmas, Ramona. Merry Christmas Everyone.


    Brilliant!  Merry Christmas, Flowerchild.


    As an anecdote, when I was in Japan in November, I heard Christmas music playing in the stores (including a very kawaii version of We Wish You a Merry Christmas), and Christmas trees in hotels and in the main lobby of the headquarters of the Japanese company I was working with there.

    As only about 1-2% of the Japanese are Christians, these were obviously not religiously inspired.


    Interesting.  Before the Chinese took over, the Japanese were manufacturing our Christmas decorations.  Maybe they took a liking to them?


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