Letter: The War on Christmas?

It is unfortunate that we live in a time when the voices of the few mute the voices of the majority. It is not surprising that a newspaper that I receive every week and one that I find has an ever so slight lean to the left would succumb to the pressures or the wants of the few who are offended at the mere mention of the word “Christmas.”

I say this because even you seem to be a little confused on your position in the matter. In your issue dated Nov. 4, you post the date and the particulars of the upcoming annual “Christmas” parade in Little Washington. I was pleased to see that out here in the beautiful and rural county that I love, it is still called Christmas after all. Then just when I thought all was well in Rappahannock, your issue dated Nov. 25 reveals a sinister adjustment to the season. It is now and suddenly referred to as the annual “holiday” parade.

This inexplicable and subtle change to this event left me saddened, angry and disappointed in your newspaper.

Have you buckled under the times and doing your best to appease those who would call this season anything else but what it is? Was the person who inadvertently described it as a “Christmas Parade” reprimanded and summarily dismissed? I would hope not and I would love nothing more than you to report back on how well the “Christmas Parade” went. That is, if any one at this newspaper cares to cater to the majority of its readers.

“It is what it is” seems to be the newest catch phrase these days. Perhaps a little overplayed but simple in its message, I couldn’t help but think of it when I sat down to write this letter. Christmas “is what it is.” You didn’t call it the Macy’s Holiday parade, did you? No, it was a Thanksgiving Day parade. Just like a St. Patrick’s Day parade or a Fourth of July parade, it is what it is.

Everywhere I turn, Christmas is being erased. From commercials to billboards to the radio station that plays nothing but Christmas music, we are afraid to call it what it is. Please say that has not happened in our wonderful Rappahannock County. This will undoubtedly never see the light of day or be printed in your paper. I felt compelled to voice my opinion and I know I speak for many, many more like me.

Roderick S. Osborne

Editor’s Note: Assuming the “inexplicable and subtle change” referred to the line in “The Rapp” column on Nov. 25 which called the event “the ‘Little’ Washington Festival and Holiday Parade,” the phrase was actually lifted from a press release from the event’s organizers. No intentional renaming of the parade and festival was planned or attempted, then or since. Moreover, that item ran under the headline, “Christmas in Washington” — a headline not provided by a press release but written personally, and without much deliberation, by an editor here at the Rappahannock News.

If the editor was leaning ever so slightly to the left at the time, it had nothing to do with politics, or religion, but with the eyestrain that sometimes comes with trying to make sure every voice in this community is heard in this community’s newspaper.

I hope that you, and any other readers who might have incorrectly assumed we’d joined the War on Christmas, will be less saddened, angry and disappointed in us — and will continue to take the time to write letters to the editor, even if you assume (incorrectly) that we would fail to print them. — R.P.

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  1. I’m with Ben as seeing Mr. Osborne’s letter as an over-reaction. I’ll go further:

    A Time of Signs….

    It seems to me that the more we reach towards honoring the principles and ideals of religious freedom, the more those who usurped the ancient celebrations and observations of the Winter Solstice from the Ancient Ones become aroused; and they again attempt to suppress the beliefs of those who came before, as well as any who came after, and try to claim the season as exclusively theirs. Whatever makes Christians think that the Day of Returning Light (the 25th of December) belongs to them and that to call it something other than their anointed label constitutes a “war” on them and their holiday???

    I don’t know. Maybe I just attract the confrontational…

    There I was, walking along amongst the holiday crowds, being sociable. I greeted those who seemed possibly responsive, you know, those who actually looked at you instead of past you or not at you at all. My greeting: “Happy Holidays”… You would think that such a greeting at the time of the winter solstice and just before the rolling over of the calendar into a New Year would be welcome and appropriate. Well, for today’s militant, terrorist “Christians” it apparently just isn’t enough. In a land that toots its foundations as being about religious freedom, among other ideals, we have a substantial population who are apparently of a mind that such “liberties” should be held forth to them and seemingly them alone. – (Oh, you are free to believe something else, just be quiet about it; and besides, you are going to hell anyway since you don’t believe what I do!)

    The Solstice, the rolling over of the year, the honoring of cycles come and gone and born again are nothing new and they have been honored and observed by men and women for several tens of millennia. The “Christmas” of our times has much deeper roots than a particular personality or single religious fiction. (Although, if you look about, you would think that its only significance is one of spending to show one’s solidarity with bringing about an increase in the “gross” National Product)- You can believe whatever you want but you have no right to expect or require anyone else to believe the same or to use your vocabulary. Enjoy your holiday. Let others enjoy theirs, whatever way they see fit!

    But no. Instead of honoring the greeting of “Happy Holidays” (a rather all exclusive greeting) with a simple “thank you” or a like response, what does one get? A belligerent and/or defensive “You can say Merry Christmas to me! I don’t mind.” – As though “Christmas” is the only suitable label and those who see the time of year as other than an exclusively Christian holiday time should be suppressed. Is it a reflection of the militant Christian belief that to not accept them as THE ONE AND THE ONLY WAY is to persecute them? Well, excuse me! You may not mind but I do!

    Those “Christian” terrorists (and I place “Christian” in quotes because their attitudes speak of anything but the teachings) who would have everyone believe that they have some exclusive claim to naming this time of year with their preferred “Savior” and or interpretation of “Spirit” and “Deity” and who would ignore or suppress the beliefs and preferences of others; they have overextended themselves and displayed their true colors as nothing more than bigots and terrorists – hardly the “message” of “Peace on Earth” and “Good will towards and between men.” (You did know that you don’t have to bomb anything to actually be a terrorist, didn’t you?)

    Happy Holidays to you! And wishing you a Satisfactory Saturnalia!

    The Etruscan

  2. Mr. Osborne’s over-reaction to a phrase in a news story that referred to a “holiday parade”
    could be likened in this case to a man who, hearing of hungry wolves in the forest, goes out
    and kicks the family dog. I don’t know which way the paper “leans.” It seems to be politically
    ecumenical these days, and clearly there was no sinister intent. Besides, the secularization
    of Christmas has to do with commerce, specifically with advertising decisions made by large
    corporations, folks who are not generally considered “left wingers.”

    This secularization began with the popularization of the term “Xmas”, which outdates me,
    and I outdate World War Two. And the term “Holiday Season” has been around as long
    as New Year’s has followed Christmas, which outdates all of us.

    Having said all that, I wish one and all a very Merry Christmas, a bountiful New Year,
    and a peaceful world.

    Ben Jones aka Ebenezer Scrooge

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