Giving Thanks for Christmas

December 2, 2009

Well, one holiday down, one to go.
   Of course, Thanksgiving is one of my bittersweet holidays. On the one hand, the food is great, except the turkey. I don’t like turkey, and that’s probably because my father didn’t like turkey therefore it was not Thanksgiving Day fare at our house. I still find its texture objectionable and its flavor boring at best.
   But Thanksgiving is odd for me, as an indigenous person, because growing up I wasn’t really sure what we were celebrating. Kinda like on Independence Day, ya folla? I know that I learned in school some variation of, “The pilgrims gave thanks for surviving the cold brutal winter and invited the Indians to share the feast with them.”
   What I couldn’t quite come to grips with – and still struggle with – is that the Indians deserved a medal of honor, but received a silver sticky-star at best.
   You’ll note that, according to most history books that have been honest and not revisionist, the Pilgrims were on the verge of starving to death and some were eating their boots to get a little nourishment from the leather, buckle and all. The Indians felt sorry for the poor fools and brought them some grub, taught them how to survive in that harsh New England winter, and in short, saved their sorry behinds from starvation.
   The Indians brought a buncha game to the celebration, and there was plenty of back-slapping (notice I said back-slapping, not back­-stabbing…that would come later) and everyone had a great time.
   So what you had here was a diversionary tactic: It’s like the old joke about the guy in the flood who climbs on his roof. A boat comes to get him, but he refuses, saying God will save him. Another boat comes by a little later, and he opts out, saying the same thing. Just before the water gets to his chin, a helicopter tries to rescue him but he refuses yet again. The flood rushes in and he drowns. In heaven, he demands an audience with the Great Spirit and demands to know why his faith was ignored. To which God replies, “Well, I sent you two boats and a helicopter, what more do you want?”
   So it was the old bait and switch, you see: Indians save Pilgrims, Pilgrims give all the credit to the Lord, and Indians play along just because they were far too polite to point out the slight to their newfound friends.
   Riddle: If April showers bring May flowers, what do May flowers bring?
   Native American answer: Pilgrims.
   But that’s behind us now. As we take the track down to Christmas, have you noticed how carefully most television commercials are avoiding using the word “Christmas” these days?
   Watch them. They go through great pains not to use the word. Not all, of course, but a disturbing number seem to have rewritten the advertising copy they’ve used for decades and replaced “Christmas” with “season” or “holiday.”
   What an abomination, and I don’t mean a snowman.
   Now I’ve admitted time and again that my personal religious convictions might be deemed controversial at best, but dagnabit, Christmas is a holiday based on an event in history of particular religious significance that has endured for 2,000 years.
   In this nation’s abominable (and I don’t mean snowman again) quest to not “offend” anyone, whatsoever, anywhere, at any time…we’ve finally done what various church organizations have been warning us against for years: We’ve taken the “Christ” out of “Christmas” and don’t even bother to do the stupid “Xmas” thing, thank goodness for that, anyway.
   Now, this is all in the same vein as taking “under God” out of the pledge, bibles and scripture out of schools, government buildings and so forth.
   Last time I looked, celebrating Christmas is voluntary. Celebrating it as a religious holiday or as a generic holiday is also voluntary. Certainly, buying from a certain store is also voluntary, or a certain product.
   What the heck is the problem here?
   Are stores and retailers weighing their options, vis-à-vis, how many sales will I lose if I say “Christmas” versus how many if I don’t?
   Listen, you can call me a crazy old coot if you want, but Christmas means one thing: The birth of Jesus Christ, and I don’t really give a jolly rip if you believe or don’t in that. I happen to not believe in Columbus Day, but you don’t see me advertising a big “Genoese Day Sale” or something on the television.
   It’s Christmas. Nobody’s changing the name of Hanukkah, Mardi Gras (also a religious holiday of sorts) or Easter…are they? Yet?
   Listen, I haven’t set foot in a church in so long I figure I better not try as it would probably fall down around my ears from structural stress, but the way I see it this is America, and we don’t need to be dialing 1 for Spanish, don’t need to be changing the Pledge and for dang sure don’t need to be modifying Christmas to suit some brain-damaged whack-job.
   What, you gonna rename that classic Jean Shepherd story and movie “A Holiday Story”?
   “A Charlie Brown Holiday”?
   “A Holiday Carol”?
   “How The Grinch Stole A Holiday”?
   “White Holiday”?
   Gimme a break.