|Holidays for Sale|
The first is a sad, sad, story about all the evil liberals who believe that people should be free to celebrate whatever religious holiday they chose and that government should have nothing to do with it. Wait. That's not such a sad story! So why are so many people hurling the cheery words "Merry Christmas" with such anger? I for one don't like to be hit over the head with a manger as we Fall into cold and dark Winter every year. As a practicing Christian myself, I much prefer to celebrate by spending too much, eating too much, giving never enough, and doing it all with my friends and family!
Sarah Palin, bless her, is now travelling the country promoting her new book fighting back against the evil liberals supposedly warring against her version of holiday cheer. Maybe she really believes what she's preachin' but she sure is makin' some sweet moolah as she goes. In Mormon scripture, we call that "Priestcraft." We could all stop her in her tracks if we waited just one more spin around the sun when I think we will find her book in the bargain bin at Walmart. But I don't think I'd buy it even then. 'Tis the season to be snarky!
I also don't understand why the holiday I enjoy so much is used as some kind of religious test in political and cultural settings. Weird. Christmas is perfectly fine and has wonderful religious meaning, but I'm not sure it's a required sacrament or ordinance by any Christian denomination. Mormons don't even go to church unless it happens to fall on a Sunday.
As for me, I try to be respectful about about overuse of the sacred name of Diety - all that "name in vain" commandment business. And the "mas" part at the end of the holiday name clearly references the word's medieval origins with one branch of the Lord's followers that doesn't happen to be mine. And, if you want to get technical about it, there's more than one official holiday with Thanksgiving and New Years thrown in not to mention Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Solstice, and other festivities my friends celebrate. Hey, I'm all for as many parties as we can get!
I give the holiday on the 25th of December some sacred respect midst all the revelry (in former times condemned by the pious Puritans) as we read the story from Luke and occasionally from Nephi or of a later Nephi descended from the first.
But I must get to my second, much happier story.
As we have discussed previously, when not prohibited by Congress my employer, the U.S. Department of Interior, takes care of the public grounds around Washington, D.C., including the National Christmas Tree on the Ellipse behind the White House. And yes, it is still called a "Christmas Tree" in spite of all the ugly, false rumors spread by some of those who will likely buy Sarah's book. Christmas is, after all, a federal holiday since President U.S. Grant signed it into law in 1870. The tree is a good deal for We the People as it is provided by private gift including the electricity graciously donated by General Electric.
One cold Winter's Day, a true grinch called "the Inspector General" (oh, I am going to be in trouble!), decided that GE could not legally donate to the people's government because they owed a debt elsewhere to the U.S., specifically the Territory of the U.S. Virgin Islands. The problem was turned over to a good friend in my office with whom I used to share a work space.
First, he read the law and saw that the IG had it slightly wrong. The government can't accept donations from an entity with an unpaid bill. He checked with GE. They were aware that they owed the Virgin Islands money, but they hadn't yet received a bill. Then he got the VI territorial government to write a letter committing them to bill GE. Then, he got GE to give him a letter committing to pay the bill promptly once it arrived. He presented the letters to the IG who pronounced himself satisfied and the National Christmas Tree lighting ceremony proceeded on schedule.
And that is how my friend became known as "the Jew who saved Christmas."
He ought to write a book. I'd buy it.