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Merry Christmas vs. Happy Holidays

By Klym ~

I was sitting in the teacher's lunchroom at the elementary school where Iwork and I was pissed off. I honestly thought I could feel smoke coming out of my ears, if that were possible. I was all alone (it was a Friday, so most teachers go off campus for lunch to celebrate the end of the work week) and I had all sorts of irreverent thoughts simmering in my brain, about to boil over. On the whiteboard in the lounge someone had anonymously written, in very large letters, with the word "Christmas" circled with red marker, the following statement:

Merry Christmas!

(notice, I said CHRISTMAS,

not holidays!!)

A little background information is in order. For the past almost 40 years (the school was founded in 1976) this small north central Texas campus has been led by three principals---all bible-believing christians. They all three let christians do and say whatever they wanted through the years. The bible was read, prayers were spoken over the intercom system, prayer meetings were (and still are) held on campus--you get the picture. The separation of church and state was not a priority in the culture of this stuck-in-the-middle-ages school. I am in my 4th year here, so this history has been told to me by some of my more liberal minded colleagues.

Anyway, we have a new principal this year, and she is enforcing the separation of church and state even though she is a christian. And everyone is up in arms because she decreed that our school could no longer include Christian songs in the annual Christmas sing-along that is a tradition that has been observed since the school's founding. (All students and faculty participate in the sing-along on the last day of school before the holiday break.) She announced in a faculty meeting that only secular songs would be allowed in order to respect the religious diversity present now on our campus. Our music teacher, who is a fundamentalist Baptist, told our principal that unless three Christian songs could be sung as is the custom, she (the music teacher) would not lead the sing-along. She has been leading the sing-along since 1978. So, long story short, there will beno 2014 christmas sing-along this year because all the Christians have their panties in a wad over not getting to sing "Away in a Manger". Can you believe it? I couldn't make this s&*($t up if I tried!

The next day after the faculty meeting, someone anonymously posted that statement I was silently seething about as I choked down my lunch. First of all, I thought,"What a coward!!" The person who posted those words did not have the balls to SIGN THEIR NAME. They are cramming Christianity down everyone's throat and they are too chicken to admit who they are.

Then I thought,"What a moron!" This unknown person, who is an educator with at least a bachelor's degree, does not even know the history of Christmas. Either they don't know, or they don't care, or maybe both. Whatever suits their agenda is what they're going with, obviously. Christmas originally had nothing whatsoever to do with Jesus. It started out as the pagan Roman holiday honoring the god Saturnalia. And Saturnalia, I think, piggy-backed on the previous thousand years of celebrating the winter solstice. Someone with a brain the size of a pea would know that there is no historical recording of Jesus's birthdate. He was not born on December 25th. We don't know for sure that he even existed. In fact, Saturnalia was a very lawless celebration that included drinking and gambling and running around naked in the streets. History implies that humans were often sacrificed during Saturnalia to appease the gods of darkness.

I really, really wanted to erase the statement altogether from the whiteboard. Or, I wanted to write, "Who wrote this?" out beside it and dare them to reveal themselves. Or, I wanted to post a history of Christmas that would include the information that

"because of its known pagan origin, Christmas was banned by the Puritans and its observance was illegal in Massachusetts between 1659 and 1681.

Merry Christmas!

(notice, I said CHRISTMAS,

not holidays!!)
But, I just sat there and stewed. I do admire my boss for standing up for our student's and staff's rights to not have one religion shoved in their faces during the holidays. I wondered what my principal thought about that being written in apublic place. I decided to write her a personal thank-you note.

I came real close to writing out beside the hateful(in my opinion) words: "Happy Hannukah!" I also wanted to write that while"Merry Christmas" excludes billions of people in the world from well wishes--thetwo small, simple words "Happy Holidays" include everyone.Happy Holidays is respectful and accepting of all faiths, andhow can anybody find fault with THAT?!! How can that be construed as a BAD thing?!!

The ignorance is mind-blowing. Sometimes I want to pinch myself and wonder if I'm really living in the twenty-first century. Oh, butI'm not---I'm living in the freaking Bible-Belt, and I am reminded of it daily by people who aresupposedly well-educated, intelligent human beings. People who can't understand that the world andthe culture is moving forward and they are missing the bus to the future. Hopefully a future where hate and ignorance and disrespect of other human beings will be a thing of the past; a future where religious myths will no longer excuse bad behavior in all its insidious forms.

I try, truly, to understand these religious bigots and I attempt not to hate and villify them and demonize them (although apparently I'm not above making fun of them). As a non-theist Unitarian Universalist, I believe in the worth and dignity of all humans beings, but these people are putting that tenet to the test in my heart of hearts. Where andwhen do we draw the line?

Tomorrow when Iget to work, I'm going straight to the lunchroom to see if that statement is still posted on theboard. If it is, I'm asking who wrote it, AND I'm signing my name to my inquiry. It's the least I can do, don't you think? The time for silence, I believe, is past. It's time for rational thought to challenge ancient mythology, especially in the halls of our educational institutions. I am sick andtired of Christians acting like they are so marginalized and persecuted. What about the rest of us?

If I'm not part of the solution, I am part of the problem, and that is unacceptable to me. I can only effect change in my miniscule sphereof influence---I understand that. But, maybe, just maybe, with one whiteboard statement at a time, I can make my voice heard. I can advocate for inclusiveness and rationality and love and acceptance. It's a start, anyway....

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