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On the Advent of this Holiday Formerly Known as Christmas

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Last month I had been considering the possibility of moving out of my two-bedroom apartment to a one-bedroom that had become available over at the next building of the complex I live in. The rent would’ve been sixty dollars less than what I pay now, and when the landlord said she was going to have a full remodel done, I became excited and asked her to put me down on the list.

Since my son has left home, a two-bedroom almost seems too big for my cat and me. Although my cat may mew to differ. A few weeks later, I decided to walk over and look in the windows to see how the work was progressing. The apartment had been gutted and a couple of walls had been taken out to make the living room larger.

As I surveyed the work that had been done, though, I noticed the apartment was trapped by the shade of the other buildings and trees. Two hours of sunlight left, and not one single ray was filtering in any of the windows. Whatever thoughts I had of moving were dashed. Compared to the sunlight I enjoy all day, a northwest exposure would mean little to no sunlight. My bedrooms face the east and the living and dining rooms face the southwest. Giving that up to save sixty dollars a month, especially with the darkest days of the year, didn’t seem to be a sensible trade off.

I’m not one who depresses easily, but given the right environment and circumstances, I can be bummed out to the point where I just sit on the couch all day and stare at the wall. Having learned several times before that it is not wise to act contrary to your intuition, I called my landlord to let her know I had decided to stay put.

With the advent of the Christmas season, I find myself experiencing a bit of melancholy as I look at the spot in the living room where my son and I had put up our last Christmas tree a few years back. My daughter was able to fly out from California for a visit. It had been eight years since the last time that the three of us celebrated the season together. Now with my son in the Army, and my daughter in college, it may be a sometime before we get a chance like that again.

Tonight as I watch the news, I’m surprised to see how much consternation our latest campaign of political correct-madness has caused us. It seems that even “Christmas” is considered offensive to those who do not recognize or celebrate the occasion. Oh, really? Who would’ve thought, and so in deference to their sensibilities, our civic leaders have taken it upon themselves to proclaim that from now and hereafter, Christmas will be known as “Holiday.”

Those who wish to celebrate Christmas may continue to do so in their own homes or churches, but any public celebration of Christmas will no longer be accepted or tolerated. Instead of “Christmas trees,” we will have “Holiday trees”; instead of “Christmas lights,” we will have “Holiday lights.”

I have never appreciated euphemisms, especially when used to substitute words that represent or describe specific customs or beliefs, like Christmas, for example, for words considered less offensive or neutral. The more we resort to the use of euphemisms to replace words that others might be offended by, the more we euthanize another aspect of our culture. What’s peculiar about this, though, is that of all the words to replace “Christmas” with, “Holiday” may have given us traditionalists the last laugh as the word happens to have a bit of an ironic twist to it. Derived from the Old English hāligdæg, “holiday” translates simply as “Holy Day.” Hmmm, go figure. Whose sensibilities are we protecting now?

It seems to me that as of lately our culture has become maladaptive. Instead of a society that builds on shared beliefs and customs while assimilating new ones by enculturation, we now have a generation that says the beliefs and customs our society is based on and lives by is offensive to those who have chosen not to respect our beliefs and customs, all the while insisting we respect theirs.

It is good, then, to see that a few of our political leaders have come to their senses by saying, “Bah, humbug,” to the fodder all. By deciding to preserve tradition by renaming the “Capitol Holiday Tree” back to the “Capitol Christmas Tree,” though not in time to have the brochures printed to reflect the change, shows that perhaps confusion is not necessarily a good trade off for trying to respect the diverseness of those who, because of different customs and beliefs, do not recognize Christmas.

Enough of the news. I turn the TV off and head out the door and amble toward the Christmas lights downtown. Twenty minutes later, I find myself at the city landing looking out across the bay. I haven’t decided whether to put a tree up this year or not. A light breeze begins to pick up. Mesmerized by the rhythmic clanging of the lines and pulleys against the masts, I feel akin to the shepherds tending to their flocks on the night that Jesus was born. Oh, what it must have been like to witness such a star shimmering brightly across the desert sands. As I stare out at the buoy light, I sense the power and beauty of the annunciation, the acclamation that on this day our Savior was born, the humility of the magnificat:

Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit.
As it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be,
world without end. Amen

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About S L Cunningham

S L Cunningham is a freelance writer and has poems and feature articles published in several small press magazines and newspapers. His column, "Unburned Pieces of the Mind" has been featured in the Village Soup Citizen. A former resident of Belfast, Maine, he now lives in Houston.
  • RJ

    “Why has America not invaded Darfur and overthrown it’s dictatorship government? Where is operation Darfuri freedom?”

    Fine concept. But where the hell are we gonna get the troops?

  • I’m not sure how your question is relevant to my topic? Did I miss something?

  • Luke

    Why has America not invaded Darfur and overthrown it’s dictatorship government? Where is operation Darfuri freedom?

  • CS,
    Without question, Darfur has become a humanitarian disaster, and it does seem that our response, as well as the United Nations , has been too little, too late. Hopefully public awareness will be raised so that something is done to help end the suffering of so many people. Thanks for commenting.

  • Chantal Stone

    How ironic that we’ve become such an overly sensitive society that the term “Christmas” can be offensive to some, and our government recognizes that, yet the very same “sensitive” government doesn’t seem to be offended by the thousands of men, women and children being slaughtered every day in Darfur. Talk about peace on earth and goodwill to man.

  • Luke

    Most Japanese people are not Christian, and even they celebrate Christmas, and they actually call it Christmas too, what a concept.

  • RJ,
    Thank you for your feedback. Appreciate the response. Scot

  • RJ

    Fine post. Thank you for sharing that. 🙂