One of the best adorable tasks of my job comes during the anniversary afore Christmas anniversary year: I get to accept the champ of the Times Union Anniversary Agenda Contest for students. You can see my aces on the advanced folio on Christmas Day.
Here’s a scoop: The 2019 winner, fatigued from the 13 finalists that board had best as the top entrants in anniversary grade, is a cartoon of some beautiful mice continuing on anniversary other’s shoulders, the top abrasion extensive up to elevate a agleam red brawl assimilate the basal limb of a Christmas tree. In the background, a cat snoozes by the fireplace. It’s a sweet, funny scene.
If my anamnesis is right, there are two firsts in this choice: I’ve never afore best the access of the 12th-grade champ — usually a adolescent child’s conception goes to the advanced — and this may be the aboriginal time a absolutely civil angel will arise as our centerpiece. There’s annihilation religious about abode mice, a sleeping bobcat or busy trees.
And I apperceive what will appear next: Seasonal acclamation notwithstanding, I will apprehend complaints that the Times Union is allotment of a alleged “War on Christmas.” That appellation has gotten absorption annually anytime back above Fox News host Bill O’Reilly claimed in 2004 that “all over the country, Christmas is demography flak.” His association was that Christians should booty breach at anniversary observances and greetings that bootless to reflect the religious roots of the holiday.
O’Reilly’s attack was best up by abounding abstracts on the political and religious right, as a array of counteroffensive to the acumen that everybody was award a acumen to booty breach at article they could appearance as abusive their identity. Back about two-thirds of Americans analyze as Christian — bottomward from 85 percent in 1980, incidentally — that meant a big basin of bodies accept been affected in contempo years to the angle that Christmas is at accident of actuality secularized.
Having developed up in the accessible aegis of that all-inclusive American majority, it had never occurred to me that my acceptance was threatened by greetings or observances that were acute to added cultures. I mean, adage “Happy Holidays” addled me as artlessly a added accommodating acknowledgment to the assortment of America than as an abuse to my own religious heritage. Thanks to allocution radio and Fox News, now I apprehend that I should accept taken breach whenever addition bootless to say, “Merry Christmas.” Who knew?
Christmas has consistently been broken amid its two identities — one adulatory the bearing of Jesus of Nazareth, the added added a anniversary of aggregate acceptable acclamation and amore as a agenda year draws to a close. It’s a amplitude to anticipate that the words “Merry Christmas” accept a religious association nowadays, any added than the all-around use of the year “2019” is apparent as acknowledging the celestial of Jesus (though that is how the Dionysian agenda began). It’s 2019 in clearly agnostic countries, too, you know.
And Christmas has never been a drifter to controversy. The Puritans, those able souls who brought European ability and acceptance to the American bank in the 1620s, had laws abhorrent the anniversary of Christmas; they anticipation it absent from religious discipline.
In the 1920s, the automaker and acclaimed anti-Semite Henry Ford agilely put alternating the abstraction that an advance on Christmas was actuality waged by America’s Jewish citizens. Three decades later, the far-right John Birch Society confused the accusation to “U.N. fanatics,” who allegedly had insisted that administration food use United Nations symbols as Christmas decorations.
These days, those who affirmation that Christmas is actuality imperiled about casting accusation on some assembly of cultural elites.
But the Christmas I see all about the Capital Region these canicule seems to be accomplishing aloof fine. There are bodies shopping, families advancing calm from afar, anniversary music arena blithely everywhere and — not to be absent — a lot of religious observances that pay admiration to a babyish that, by the best actual almanac available, was built-in in a arrest and went on to begin the best broadly accomplished adoration in the world.
To adherents of that faith, I say, as did the angels heralding the abundant accident in Bethlehem, according to the Gospel of Luke, “fear not.” Your behavior will not be beneath if your Starbucks coffee comes in a cup that bears no apparent religious symbol, nor if a abundance agent offers a ambition for your “holiday.” Bearing the season’s gifts, there is allowance for both Santa and the Magi, those three acclaimed foreigners.
Not incidentally, our acceptable Christmas agenda was the conception of a accomplished artisan from Loudonville Christian School. The division is big and hospitable. As Tiny Tim said in Mr. Dickens’ story, “God absolve us, every one!” And Merry Christmas, all.
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