It happens every year (stirring the Christmas pot)

Published 4:56 pm Tuesday, December 6, 2011

It happens every year about this time, or a few weeks earlier. I know what you’re thinking.

You are thinking that I am referring to the fact that the shrubbery in front of houses begins to get sprinkled with twinkling lights or, suddenly, green wreaths with red bows appear magically upon doors and windows.

Cone-shaped trees are pulled down from attics or out of storage to be set in places that are easily seen and colorful decorations are piled on like snow upon the conifers in the higher elevations of our mountains. Recipes for cookies and ladyfingers are pulled from the backs of our recipe books and the sales for butter, sugar, and all-purpose Martha White and White Lily flours triple.

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Songs like “Jingle Bells and Shotgun Shells,” “Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer,” and “Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire” trip off the tip of our tongues as easily as the latest radio hit. Stores are twice or thrice as busy as usual and, in front, are the red kettles of the Salvation Army. Usually we could pass by without a glance, but at this time of the year, we dig a little deeper into the pockets for the extra change.

Are those scenes what you think I am thinking? If you say “Yes,” then you would be right, but not completely. There are other things that happen, and one, in particular, gets my goat, if you know what I mean.

I was preparing for church last Sunday and just happened to have the television on. It’s a matter of habit, and not a very good one, that one of the first things I do in the morning is turn on the television. Most of the time, it’s just the video, but on this past Sunday morning, I had the audio up and could hear the tease.

Teases are those few words that highlight an upcoming story. The words are supposed to be of such interest that one would not turn the channel as the commercial is beginning. Teases are supposed to hold our attention through the inanity of a mindless few minutes where the rings in our noses are pulled in the direction of buying something we don’t need or even like.

The tease was this: “School bans Christmas. You’ll want to hear this! After the break.” The tease worked. I wanted to hear what school would want to ban Christmas. What has some stupid principal, school board, city council, department store, whatever done now?

Every year, about this time, we are asked to endure many stories about how Christmas is being disrespected or even dismissed. It’s usually a poke at someone or some company or group that has bowed to the political correctness that drives us crazy.

You know what I mean. The Christmas parade that has been held for 100 years has suddenly been renamed “The Holiday Parade” because the ACLU has threatened a lawsuit. The nativity scene that has traditionally been placed in the City Square has been cancelled this year because of some group’s offended sensibilities.

The Christmas tree that has been a part of the town’s holidays is going to be called a “Holiday” tree this year. The town’s authorities felt that diversity had to be emphasized. In this instance I am mentioning, a principal at a school had decreed through a memorandum that there would be no Christmas celebrations this year. I wanted to hear more, so I stayed tuned. The ring in my nose worked perfectly.

As it turned out, the principal was not a scrooge or a Grinch, even though the television so-called news people wanted us to think that. Here is what the story was all about.

A parent had been offended because his child was not going to be able to celebrate Christmas at school during class time. The principal’s memo was meant to tell teachers that there would be no Santa Claus visits, exchanges of gifts or cards, or parties during the time that classes were in session.

In other words, while teaching 1 + 1 = 2, Santa Claus should not burst into the classroom with his jolly “Ho, Ho, Ho.” As spelling is being taught (do they still teach spelling?), the children shouldn’t be up and about exchanging gifts and sipping on eggnog!

The television had sought to create a controversy over the “banning of Christmas” and I fell for it, hook, line and sinker. I was mad that they had yanked my chain very successfully, but it happens every year about this time. I guess someone always wants to stir the pot and Christmas is no different.

Now, how about a little honesty? How long has it been since we truly celebrated and kept the real reason for this season?

As a Christian, I am not offended by “Jingle Bells and Shotgun Shells.” I love those songs and will be singing them with as much gusto and joy as I can bring. I love the decorations of red and green and garlands all over. I love the joy of giving and the smell of holiday, uh, Christmas baking. I like Santa Claus and children enjoying him.

But, the commercialism of Christmas has run amok right alongside the political correctness. So far as the real meaning of Christmas, it’s running a very weak third and that’s no one’s fault except ours. If we really want to celebrate Christmas, for real, do it. No one can stop you!