A sampling of readers' letters, faxes and e-mail.
Thinking up ways to make your holidays right
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Editor, The Times:
Political correctness is about to turn on itself. Its lofty aim is to prevent anyone from getting their feelings hurt. Well, guess what? A whole lot of people are getting their sensible feelings trampled by iconoclastic political correctness.
No Christmas trees at a fire station if one person objects? The Lake Washington Schools were not allowed to participate in sending packages to our troops because the word Christmas was in the name of the sponsoring organization?! Change the warm greeting of “Merry Christmas” to anything else?! How about “Happy Hanukkah”? Why not both? I am a Christian but to my Jewish friend I said “Happy Hanukkah.” Neither of us thought anything about it.
We have had lovely cherished traditions here in our country for many years. And I am sure a majority of Americans would like to keep them. Christmas is a lovely season of love and giving, albeit gone overboard commercially. But no one is required to celebrate it nor wish anyone a Merry Christmas. We are free to celebrate this season as we wish.
Our Constitution says we have freedom of religion — not freedom from religion. Why not a crèche and a menorah and symbols revered by others?
Let’s all join in the season. I believe many people, including me, are really tired of a few disgruntled iconoclasts trying to destroy a beautiful season.
Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, etc.
— Meredith Horne, Sammamish
Santas irk shops
I am so very disgusted with all I am hearing about various companies not allowing their workers to say “Merry Christmas” in their places of employment. Also, many stores won’t allow this to be expressed by their clerks.
It seems the atheists are getting their way. They seem to feel the joyous season of Christmas (whoops, holidays) are being forced on them.
People are forgetting our nation was founded on a belief in what Christmas stands for.
I am tempted to dress up in a Santa Claus suit and take an army of children and march into one of the large mall stores and sing Christmas carols and wish everyone we meet “Merry Christmas” at the top of our voices! How is that for starting a revolution?
— James Robinson, Redmond
O holy domination
Reading the latest round of hyperventilating letters from outraged conservatives regarding the many restrictions on their celebration of Christmas, I’m not really sure what the issue is.
Is anyone prevented from wishing their companions or co-workers a Merry Christmas, as loudly or pointedly as they wish? Is anyone prevented from festooning their homes in Christmas lights, Santas or crèches in the most reverently garish Christmas tradition? Is anyone prevented from exchanging gifts with friends and family, throwing a Christmas party, preparing an obscenely large meal, or otherwise celebrating at home in the manner of their own choosing?
Does the day’s 30th repetition of “Merry Christmas” convey more heartfelt cheer than “Happy Holidays”? Does the celebration of the day also require full governmental participation to be complete?
In short, am I mistaken in my belief that this complaint is more about the fact that not everyone chooses to celebrate the holidays in the manner that conservatives think appropriate than it is about any restrictions on their own behavior?
— Dan Furlong, Kingston
Better to give in
Whatever happened to the humility and generosity that Christians are fabled for? All we hear these days are demands, entitlement and gimme-gimme-gimme. Maybe it’s not a contemporary phenomenon after all. Imagine how the pagans must have felt in the 4th century when the Catholic Church took over Dec. 25 (the Feast of the Winter Solstice) to commemorate the birth of Jesus, who wasn’t even born on Dec. 25.
If you want to celebrate Jesus’ birth on Dec. 25, who’s stopping you? You have every right to do so. What you don’t have the right to do is expect everybody else to follow suit.
If this country is as predominately Christian as is generally believed, there certainly must be plenty of people to say “Merry Christmas” to (as opposed to the dread, all-inclusive “Happy Holidays,” which — horrors! — acknowledges the existence of other people in the world, plus the fact that there’s more than one holiday celebrated in December).
So, good Christian men and women, rejoice, and stop behaving like a bunch of spoiled children whose Christmas will be “ruined” if they don’t get every single toy they’ve asked Santa for. Incidentally, if your faith is so strong, why do you need so much external validation of it?
— Kevin Dawson, Long Pond, Pa.
On the 7th day
I concur with Emily Salisbury Keene that Orthodox Jews and Jehovah’s Witnesses do not celebrate Christmas (“Tiny drawback, Tim,” Northwest Voices, Dec. 18). However, where she got the idea that the Seventh Day Adventist Church does not celebrate the birth of Jesus during the Christmas season has me scratching my head. Just last Saturday I attended a Christmas church program at the Bellevue Seventh Day Adventist Church. That afternoon there was a special Christmas program at a Kirkland Seventh Day Adventist Church. There is going to be another Christmas program at the Bellevue church Saturday.
— George Nordby, Bellevue
I’m amused that people will bemoan the commercialization of the Christmas season while simultaneously attempting to strip it of any religious connotation.
Well, what were you expecting to happen?
— Joshua Tom, Bothell
Light a candle
Based on historical evidence, Christ was born either in the early fall or late spring. The Dec. 25 date was chosen in the 4th century to replace Saturnalia, a Roman pagan celebration of the winter solstice. The Christmas tree was long used by Celts and other northern Germanic tribes as a ritual for the return of the sun. Most other Christmas symbols also have deeper roots in pagan mythology than Christian (Yule log, mistletoe, holly, giving gifts, caroling).
I will continue honoring Christmas/Yule/Saturnalia/etc. for what it really is and has been always: a celebration of the ending of the darkness and a return of the light.
Merry Solstice, everyone.
— John Anderson, Issaquah
The thought that counts
James O’Brien seems to believe that traditions such as the Christmas tree were originated by the Christian celebration of the birth of Christ (“It’s the most intolerant time of the year,” Northwest Voices, Dec. 18). But history gives evidence that a myriad of these fun traditions such as the tree, lights, the holly, the ivy, even the date, have come to us from those who celebrated the winter solstice long before the birth of Christ.
Mr. O’Brien might be as puzzled to be wished a good Ramadan or happy Hanukkah as his Muslim or Jewish neighbor might be puzzled to be wished a Merry Christmas.
Let us all bid each other a good holiday in the spirit of the best of our varied traditions, celebrating what we do agree on and what is always most important: the love of neighbor, peace on Earth and good will to all.
— Jacqueline Leksen, Lynnwood