Monday, December 24, 2007

The War on Christmas Continues.

Do you have any Christmas rituals that you participate in year-to-year? For me, Christmas Eve means one thing only- it's time to do my bit for the "War on Christmas". I don't know if you are aware of it, but there's been a long and bloody conflict being waged throughout this great nation for decades. The shock troops are geared up and ready, and both sides are digging in for the long and bloody annual siege. Yes, I am doing my part. I've been all around town today, engaging the enemy's front on the battle or words. Complete strangers have been firing salvos, and each time the dreaded words "Merry Christmas" wound me just a little bit more. All I can do is hunker down and return the attack with the most trusty weapon of all... I respond with "Happy Holidays", and then it's on.

Every year the great heroes are feted. The ever-expanding and evil empire of Walmart is abuzz with activity. The AM radio stations have their fight songs on a continuous loop- strains of melody extolling the battlefield legends like Santa and Christ fill the air. Formidable sums of money are spent in a frantic arms race to determine who exactly is the merriest of all. Tonight the city will grow quiet and the Christian soldiers will gather for their solemn ceremonies in the churches of all the great neighborhoods throughout the metropolis. They will fortify themselves with the words of their illustrious incense-bearing generals. They will cast their beady eyes around their ill-lit chambers, and see that there are strangers in their midst. Some of them will be wearing jeans, and that will be cause for alarm. It may occur to them that the enemy has infiltrated their camp. Still their resolve will be strong to carry their banner forever.

On the other side, Jews and atheists will be undermined by the insidious consumerism that each side will bemoan as the tactic of their enemy. There's often no way to tell who is who in this indeterminate and seemingly endless war. Some will even try to extricate themselves and stake a claim of neutrality. But they are fooling only themselves. There is no value-neutral path. You are either with us or against us. This message is broadcast in diverse ways, but is unmistakable. The propaganda machine is fueled by the fervor of the righteous. Half the houses in your town will be lit with the warm colors of festivity and energy consumption. You will have some mission to fulfill, as no one is left untouched by the madness of war. Some will seek to inure themselves from the pain by consuming spirits, while others will bravely make due with unadulterated egg nog or diet coke.

What marks this year as different from all those preceding it? Who are the bold foot soldiers who have distinguished themselves with true and mighty valor? In listening for dispatches from the militarized zone last week, I heard the inspiring story of a suburban man who has erected a 15-foot cross on his front lawn. Now this would not be particularly notable in this climate of terror, as many have seen fit to erect gaudy displays meant to honor their symbols of victory. But this cross has an unusual figure nailed to it- it is that fat and bearded jolly bastard Santa Claus. Reportedly his neighbors are divided on the meaning of this gesture. Could this be a message to both sides in this soul-depleting conflict? Should we continue to invest our resources in such a fruitless and divisive fight? Is it good for us? Is it good for the larger society? Must we continue until the other side is vanquished permanently?

Meanwhile Kevin Miller over at KDKA 1020 has been seeking to expand the sphere of conflict beyond its typical borders. Not content to merely decry the enemies of Christmas, he has taken it upon himself- not just to work on X-mas Eve, but to issue a new war cry for the traditionalists among his people. That's right, friends and neighbors. He has taken a bold and courageous step. He is calling for the return of "the dress". This holiday season (according to Miller) we should seize the spirit to return to the halcyon days of old. We should hearken back to the pure days of Eden, and remember the wise words of our Christian fathers- it is for the men to wear the pants in a family. There might be a role for women in The War on Christmas, but it is vitally important that they do their fighting in a dress. Otherwise they will never be "ladies".* And so it goes in our war-torn society.

* I swear to Santa that I'm not making this up.

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