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Chuck Pinkey

December 20, 2011

'Merry Christmas' should not cause controversy

A good friend of mine is a retired Jewish fellow now leading the equestrian lifestyle in the mountains of Delaware County. I asked George a couple of years ago if he'd be offended should I wish him a "Merry Christmas."

He responded: "Certainly not! I've always enjoyed the Christmas season. It is a beautiful holiday, and after all, you're just wishing me peace and good tidings. What's to be offended over?"

Exactly, what's to be offended over? That's a good question, because It seems as though every Christmas season, there are those who try to diminish the holiday with politically correct expressions such as "Happy Holidays" and "Season's Greetings."

Certainly, there are other religious holidays this time of year, other than the Christian celebration of Christ's birth. The most noted is the Jewish festival of Hanukkah, which dates from the second century, but the immense size and scope of the "holidays" is undoubtedly attributed to Christianity.

To date, I've yet to hear of a Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist, Hindu or any other major religious group complain over the usage of "Merry Christmas."

And, do Christians expect them to temper "Happy Hanukkah" or "Ramadan" celebrations with generic phrases such as "Winter Festival" or "Summer Celebration?" Of course not! So why all the fuss when it comes to Christmas?

In many cities the Christmas tree is now referred to as the "Holiday Tree." Most schools have abandoned the term "Christmas Vacation" and use "Winter Break." What used to be called "Easter Vacation" is now "Spring Break."

Nearly all towns in America no longer have a Nativity scene in the town square, using the excuse of the separation of church and state, as if displaying a Nativity scene somehow establishes a state-sponsored religion. Give me a break!

As one who notices such things, I can't help but see that the majority of major chain stores, TV networks and national advertisers seldom, if ever, use "Merry Christmas." I guess they must be afraid of offending someone! However, they offend me by not using the term.

How often when checking out of a grocery store or supercenter, do the clerks wish you a "Merry Christmas"? Hardly ever! Seems it's always "Happy Holidays" or "Season's Greetings" to which I respond "Merry Christmas!"

Could it be that some find "Merry Christmas" offensive? Could it be that others consider it exclusive? If so, why is that? Who are these people?

Are they merely "party poopers" who wish to rain on anyone's parade? You know the type, those who hate to see anyone having a good time, aka the perpetual sad sack.

Could they be the politically correct zealots who bristle at anything they deem provocative? Are they the self-appointed guardians of people's feelings, ensuring that no one is made to feel "uncomfortable?"

They are probably the same folks who have quietly changed St. Valentine's Day, to simply Valentine's Day, and condemn Columbus Day celebrations because of the plight of indigenous Americans. Heck, I've often wondered what they intend to do about Thanksgiving. After all, to whom are we giving thanks?

Might they be militant atheists on a quest to erase God from America? Probably most atheists couldn't care less, and why should they? If you don't believe, what's the big deal with those who do?

Nonetheless, there are some who are on a mission. Billboards ridiculing Christianity have appeared that insult our faith. In America, you have the freedom and right to do that. However tasteless you may be, knock yourselves out! Still, I find it odd that no billboards appear insulting Islam or Judaism. Why just Christianity?

A recent Rasmussen poll shows that 72 percent to 78 percent of Americans want "Merry Christmas" used. So what's the problem?

Along the same lines, consider the reaction to a "controversial" football player named Tim Tebow. He is a devout Christian, who does missionary work in the off-season, and after scoring, takes a knee in the end zone.

I've heard talking heads on various news programs complain that viewers should not have to be "subjected to this display of Christianity." Subjected? The fact is, if more young men were like Tim Tebow, the world would be a much better place!

The season is Christmas, and this is one Christian who doesn't feel like changing or backing down because of possibly offending those among us who are always so easily offended.

If you are a sad sack, find a life! If you're a self-appointed zealot, mind your own business! If you are offended, get over it!

At home and at River Valley New Holland, we say and will always say, "Merry Christmas!"

Chuck Pinkey is the owner of River Valley New Holland Inc. in Otego. He can be reached at chuck.rvnewholland@gmail.com. The views expressed in this column do not necessarily reflect those of The Daily Star and its editorial board.

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