For the past 28 years, the village of Amelia, Ohio, has hosted a Christmas parade. It won't this year. One person threatened village mayor Leroy Ellington with legal action. Rather than duke it out, Ellington caved. He offered to host a " Holiday Parade." Village residents told Ellington where to stick the "Holiday Parade."
Each year, it comes to this, a facile attempt to take the name "Christmas" from the Christmas season. How did we get to the point of political correctness where saying "Merry Christmas" risks a lawsuit or being kicked out of school?
Christmas Day, Dec. 25, honors the birth of Jesus. Here's the essential point: Christmas Day is a legal holiday in the United States, made so by an act of Congress.
Actually, the entire month of December is legally called " the Christmas Season." No other month wears the designation. December has no other legal holidays, according to Resources for Attorneys, a practices directory for lawyers. Hanukah is not a legal holiday. Kwanza is not a legal holiday. New Year's Eve doesn't qualify, since it is not a day but an evening. Consequently, it is not only insulting and ignorant but also illegal for anyone - including civil authorities - to prevent December from being called Christmas. The counterfeit "holiday season" should not be accepted as a substitute.
Not calling Christmas "Christmas" reveals profound bigotry against Christians of the same class as the worst racial or ethic slur. No rational person with a shred decency or goodness would use such terms. Bigots, though, don't care about reason or respect decency. Thus we have "holiday" run amuck: holiday ornaments, holiday bows, holiday lights, holiday wreaths, holiday Santas, and holiday trees.
No big deal, you say? Let's pose it this way: How about renaming a menorah a "holiday candelabra"? Try that and there would be a recitation of Ginsberg's "Howl" in the local Jewish community, a yawp the fawning media would take up. Call a Christmas tree a "holiday" tree, and not a peep.
The seven- stick candleholder has deep religious significance to Jews. Take its name away and you strip its significance. It would be a sign of religious contempt. Words have such power.
There's a large menorah in the Berkshire Mall but no Nativity Scene. What's the difference except Jesus in a crib has far better the claim to be here in December? Mall management has bought into the creeping bigotry. With due respect to my Jewish friends, a menorah as nothing to do with Christmas. It should not - neither should Wicca, kwanza, nor any other belief system - be stuffed into a one-size-fits-all cap bearing the embroidered logo "Holidays." No crèche, no menorah. It's Christmas, baby!
In public places, I have seen a kinara ( candleholder), a mkela (mat), and a zawadi (gifts) to celebrate kwanza. Beautiful. Do I call them the "holiday candleholder," "holiday mat," or "holiday gifts"? No, since I respect the traditions of kwanza, which celebrate values I endorse: community, culture, family, and self-determination.
The following public places in Pittsfield ban Christmas symbols: the post office, schools, City Hall, North Street, and Park Square. In public schools, students and teachers are forbidden to say "Merry Christmas." They can't sing Christmas carols. A student wearing red and green, if the clothes are judged to be a Christmas message, can be sent home. Boys dressing like gang members and girls like hookers, meanwhile, are fine.
Schools, politicians, and businesspeople have been intimidated by anti-Christmas bigotry. Not this writer, who will put to rest this illegal infringement of rights.
Attention K-Mart shoppers. Stop the buying frenzy a moment for this Christmas blue-light special: In Pittsfield, for part of one day, anti-Christmas bigotry will stop. On Dec. 24 at noon, I will be in Park Square. I will set up a Nativity Scene. I will have a sign reading, "Merry Christmas." I'm bringing a Nerf football and will conduct the first annual Nativity Bowl. If I have to play alone, I will. It's not George Bailey jumping off a bridge, but it's a start.
Other faiths bring your symbols. Those with no faith, come also with your symbols. This is a civic, not spiritual, affair: one man asserting his right to free expression on and of a legal holiday.
For many years, the city sponsored a Park Square crèche. No one suffered permanent brain damage, lost their belief in an Old Man in the Sky, converted to faith from having none, or as much as got their hair mussed. The damage has come recently, when a tiny handful of extremist cranks have co- opted the vast majority who love reason and value goodness.
One atheist cannot subdue tens of thousands of believers and nonbelievers. As for that, atheists have their way everyday in Park Square, since it is free of religious symbols 24/7/365.
This is not about religion. This is about freedom of expression in America.
Give me liberty or give me shibboleth.
Give me Halliday. Roy can head my pitching rotation every fifth day. Give me Holliday. I would like Matt's bat thundering in my lineup. You can keep "Holidays."
There's only one season in December, and it's Christmas.
Dan Valenti can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.