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Get the Christ Out of My Holiday Tree…and Other Politically Correct Blasphemies

26 Nov

It is during the busiest shopping time of the season at Bath & Body Works when I risk it all by handing back the change to a customer and quietly wish her a Merry Christmas.  I’m assuming it’s safe to do so.  Decked out in a red and white reindeer sweater and matching knit cap, I’ve carefully profiled this woman as an obvious supporter of Christmas.  There is even a Rudolph pendant on the fabric of her sweater with a flashing nose pointing to her very breast.  No way does this woman believe in Hanukkah, Kwanzaa or nothing at all.  The woman smiles sweetly and makes the mistake of thanking me for respecting Jesus’s birthday before she turns and is on her way and I face the perky wrath of the store manager for not having used the generic corporate approved Happy Holidays.  “Next time I’ll write you up, Paula,” my manager threatens in her sharply cut bob and bright white Keds tennis shoes.

I was an undergraduate, putting myself through school on grants, student loans and part-time shifts schlepping flowery and fruity scented shower gels and body lotions.  Banning Christ made no sense then in a brightly lit store in a mall and it certainly makes none now as a professor in a classroom whose students vary from Catholics to Muslims to agnostics.  Where I teach at the state university religious tolerance shockingly enough still prevails.  One English professor teaches a course on the Bible as literature.  Hard core Christian activists are allowed to shout self-righteously so long as they do it out of doors and don’t incite a physical altercation.  Over the years as a hybrid of Greek Orthodox and the Lutheran faith, I’ve learned about Allah, the Pope and the Big Bang Theory.  Some atheist students are surprised to learn they have a faith because believing in nothing, I point out, is still a belief in something.

But in other institutions the freedom to speak or write about religion is not always the case.  A professor I know from a well-respected college refuses to allow the Bible as a legitimate text in his courses because the authors, he claims, are technically unknown.  Really.  Then I suppose that must also exclude great Christian philosophers and thinkers like St. Thomas Aquinas who rely on this book in their own writings.  The professor bristles at my offhanded accusation of censorship.  Not all professors, he says, get a chance to read up on everyone.  He’s also one of those bah humbug types who pitches a fit at a golden menorah painted on the front window of the local bank or a Christmas nativity scene played out in the town square because he doesn’t want another person’s religious celebratory practices imposed on him, period.  What he doesn’t see is the ignorance he practices daily is far more divisive and damaging than any religious one.

Why should a mistaken affiliation whether it be in regards to religion or ethnicity be so offensive anyway?  As a warm-blooded, dark haired Greek I’m constantly asked here in Southern California by many people of Hispanic origin if I habla Espanol.  And even once I was taken out of line at a Nashville airport and interrogated by a slow sounding (in more ways than one), TSA agent.  Naturally he thought I was a Middle Eastern terrorist because I had played around dyeing my hair a deeper shade of near black and I had unintentionally packed in my carry-on a contraband snow globe with a tiny banjo in it from the Grande Ole Opry.  The agent kept requesting that he see my passport even though I swore over and over again with my driver’s license in hand that I was a California native.  Did I sue over my lowly mistreatment?  No.  I  was highly insulted by his questions, by his grits and gravy breath, but then I did this strange thing some Americans have trouble doing.  I simply got over it.

As a consequence of all of this hypersensitivity and political correctness, children in elementary schools are no longer allowed to celebrate any holidays.  There is Harvest Time instead of Halloween.  Scary rubber masks, costume contests and, well, fun are ditched in the process.  Christmas Break is now a Winter one; therefore, no jolly old guy in a red suit and hat, lugging a sack full of presents will be showing up on the last day of class like he did in mine when I was in kindergarten.  Last year there was a controversy over the White House calling that big, tall thing with green needles and tangle of lights they had standing in one of their great rooms as a holiday tree, not a Christmas tree. For his part, the left wing’s nemesis Bill O’Reilly defends Christmas on his program and even offers bumper stickers to that effect on his show’s site.  And while I oftentimes don’t agree with him on a range of other topics, I commend him on his efforts and I wish him and everyone else who reads this a very Merry Christmas.

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  1. Mary Ann

    November 26, 2010 at 9:15 pm

    Loved the line about getting over it. Good stuff, Paula. They made me say happy holidays too when I worked in a little gift shop. It was annoying and a downer.

     
    • Ralph & Sylvie

      November 27, 2010 at 1:06 pm

      We are big fans of The O’Reilly Factor and couldn’t agree more with your article. Political correctness has gone too far. People need to put a stop to all the nonsense. May you and your readers experience a joyous Christmas season. Merry Christmas!

       
      • Bree

        November 28, 2010 at 2:04 pm

        I’m not a big fan of political correctness either. I’m Jewish, but I still respect the Christmas season as I’m sure you and your readers respect Hanukkah. Why can’t others just let us celebrate our respective holidays?

         
        • Christy

          December 7, 2010 at 12:02 pm

          Hi Bree:
          I think Hanakkah is a beautiful holiday and I celebrate Christmas. Happy Hanakkah to you!

           
  2. judy

    November 28, 2010 at 4:32 pm

    very cleverly written point taken. your former boss should’ve been the one that was reprimanded.

     
    • Tennessee Reader

      November 30, 2010 at 3:51 am

      The holiday, after all is to celebrate the birth of Jesus CHRIST – as in CHRISTMAS – the holiday that the retailers in all of the malls across America depend on each year to carry them through financially. It is the birth of Jesus Christ as the historians and Bible has taught us. The Manager’s of every retail store eagerly await this holiday and the forthcoming BONUS they expect to receive. Perhaps the stores should greet their customers with some kind of Happy Birthday slogan instead of Happy Holiday. The non Christians in America expect to receive all of the benefits that Christ’s BD offers – including paid days off, parties, etc. When have other employees ever received paid days for holidays of other religious faiths. Heaven help the USofA’s economy iif Jesus’s BD was never celebrated again – He needs to be thanked by all – even if you are not a Christian. America WAS founded under the Christian faith. One God and his son our Lord Jesus Christ. If I remember correctly, the words in the Constitution of the US. thanks for letting me vent.

       
  3. Blog Guy

    November 29, 2010 at 2:13 pm

    This piece is just plain smart. Complex too. You’re a talented writer.

     
    • Lucky Girl

      November 30, 2010 at 9:24 am

      I loved this! You have a way with words, Ms. Priamos. Merry Christmas to you and yours.

       
      • Jilly

        November 30, 2010 at 11:37 am

        It’s a crazy country we live in when a person feels profiled and discriminated against just for celebrating a Christian holiday. Shame on the PC police for taking that away from the rest of us.

         
  4. BRJ

    November 30, 2010 at 10:24 am

    I agree that Americans need to be better at “getting over” lots of petty slights and grow a thicker skin. Should a non-Christian really be so put out if a store clerk wishes them a Merry Christmas – no, they can politely smile, or just ignore it. No harm, no foul.. But, then the same well-meaning store clerk or right-wing TV talking head should recognize and accept that most non-Christians don’t really care that it’s Christmas,don’t share their same beliefs, don’t want to be force-fed someone’s particular religion no matter how well-meaning the sentiment and aren’t obliged to celebrate the religious festivities. And those well-meaning Christians should accept it and get over it.

     
    • A Soldier Who Reads

      December 1, 2010 at 8:34 am

      As a soldier I have downtime on occasion. I’ve
      enjoyed reading your articles. They’re accessible, humorous and speak to our times. Merry Christmas.

       
      • Paula

        December 1, 2010 at 11:37 am

        Thank you very much to everybody who has been considerate enough to take the time and respond to my writing!

         
  5. Brian

    December 1, 2010 at 3:57 pm

    Great, thought provoking post. I’ve just bookmarked it.

     
    • Miles

      December 2, 2010 at 9:49 am

      I love the line about how you carefully profiled her as a supporter of Christmas!

      All best,

      Miles

       
      • Guy

        December 3, 2010 at 11:02 am

        Perfect piece for the holidays…

         
  6. Cyclopsthere

    December 5, 2010 at 12:54 pm

    The Cristmas Tree is actually derived from a pagan ritual so taking Christ out is just restoring it to it’s original intention.

     
    • Hymnia

      December 7, 2010 at 12:20 pm

      Hi Cyclopsthere: You make a correct point about the Christmas tree coming from pagan origins. However, I think you are reacting to a provacative title and missing the point of Priamos’ article. Her point is that the current culture has become so PC that we cannot wish each other Merry Christmas. The establishment is running around “Grenching” everyone’s holidays that its turning into a burden to celebrate. As for the tree, If you’d like to call the “Christmas” tree a pagan name and worship the tree then do so. The celebration of Christmas is not about a tree any way. Happy Holiday to you.

       
  7. C. B. C.

    December 7, 2010 at 4:12 am

    Wonderful post here. I like your points of view. Takes a second reading to figure it all out! You’re no average blogger.

     
    • Bennington

      December 9, 2010 at 9:53 am

      As someone who likes to consider himself “well read,” I must say I haven’t read a writer quite like you. I look forward to your memoir and the novel you briefly mention you’re working on. All my very best, and have a blessed Christmas season.

       
      • Xavier

        December 9, 2010 at 1:56 pm

        You pack a punch. Wouldn’t want to get on the wrong side of your keyboard. Cool.

         
        • No Name

          December 9, 2010 at 5:04 pm

          I’m actually a book blogger and came across this site on recommendation.
          Loved this piece. Hope you write more soon.

           
  8. Demetrius

    December 10, 2010 at 4:02 pm

    “Everybody’s worried about stopping terrorism. Well, there’s a really easy way; stop participating in it.” — Noam Chomsky

     
  9. Anonymous Reader

    December 10, 2010 at 5:06 pm

    “During the 1990’s, world leaders looked at the mounting threat of terrorism, looked up, looked away, and hoped the problem would go away.”

    John Boehner

     
  10. Rick

    December 12, 2010 at 4:49 pm

    It’s crazy how much our society has changed and is all about sensitivity. Appreciate the article.

     
    • Jonathon

      December 14, 2010 at 4:56 pm

      My girlfriend sent me this article and I loved every minute of it. Merry Christmas to you and yours.

       
  11. Jenny

    December 16, 2010 at 6:17 pm

    Entertaining article about Christmas and the dangers of political correctness. Keep them coming!

     
  12. V.

    January 24, 2011 at 8:57 am

    Very nice blog and interesting article.

     
  13. Daniel Verdugo

    February 24, 2011 at 12:45 pm

    You should have told the TSA agent that his grits and gravy breath was more offensive than his questioning!

     
  14. Jane Austen Reader

    February 28, 2011 at 3:41 pm

    Your blog is timely and clever, although I don’t always agree with you.

     
  15. Michelangelo

    March 1, 2011 at 9:44 am

    Very nice post. I just stumbled upon your blog and wished to say that I have truly enjoyed surfing around your blog posts. In any case I’ll be subscribing to your rss feed and I hope you write again soon!

     
  16. Rich

    March 15, 2011 at 8:35 pm

    This is some really great stuff. I’m shocked by the quality of your blog.

     
  17. Scott Rogers

    December 16, 2011 at 1:56 am

    I found this essays of yours last season and just enjoy reading it all over again. Merry Christmas but no happy holidays to you and yours. I will be looking for your memoir next year.