It's Our Turn: O' Silent Night, non-denominational nightDo we all have to celebrate the same holiday to have a happy one? You can’t say Merry Christmas. You can’t pledge allegiance to the flag. You can’t pray in school. Well, in most cases those instances are becoming unacceptable by “society’s” standards. But, whose society?
By: Crystal Dey, Alexandria Echo Press
Do we all have to celebrate the same holiday to have a happy one?
You can’t say Merry Christmas. You can’t pledge allegiance to the flag. You can’t pray in school. Well, in most cases those instances are becoming unacceptable by “society’s” standards. But, whose society?
A little more than a year ago, I attended the first meeting of what was to be my beat for the Echo Press. Sitting in the Commissioner’s Room at the Douglas County Courthouse, we were asked to stand for the Pledge of Allegiance. OK, I remember that one. We said it every day in elementary school. Never did I hesitate or feel offended at “One nation under God.”
After saying the pledge, the room continued to stand as a church official recited the invocation and everyone closed their eyes and bowed their heads to pray. Everyone except me – I’m agnostic.
Now, I’m not going to proclaim I’m outraged or even upset by the act. What I am wondering is why this practice is accepted without question in Alexandria and not commonplace in other regions I’ve covered.
It’s that “D” word. Diversity. The majority of the community is Christian. I, myself, may offend some readers just by sharing my alternate beliefs. But why?
Why do we have a “holiday tree” at the White House? Why can’t we say Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Have a Blessed Yule or any other holiday – or not-so-holy day – greeting and have the recipient recognize our good intentions, rather than be offended that we didn’t take the time to ask their religious preference before passing by with a smile and wishing them happiness?
Just this week I was approached by a man in the hallway of my apartment building who asked if I was a Christian. When he learned that I was not, he lectured me on how I will go to hell for not welcoming Jesus into my heart. That is crossing a line. Saying Merry Christmas to a stranger is not, in my opinion.
We don’t need to write-out Santa’s smoking in the Night Before Christmas. We don’t need to let free-range reindeer guide his sleigh or put him on a diet. Whether a star or an angel is atop your Christmas tree (which is Pagan by the way) or a menorah or other deity graces your mantle, the season is a celebration.
Tis the season to give. I’m giving this advice: Live and let live.
We are one nation – under God, Goddess, Gods or just the plain blue sky. And we are free to be diverse. We are free to speak our minds and worship as we wish.
But, be nice. Remember the magic of Christmas as a child and don’t ruin it for the next generation. Remember we are all human, with hearts and feelings. And remember that a smile is contagious. So next time someone walks by and says Merry Christmas, don’t retaliate with Bah-Humbug; just smile and know that humanity is not as rotten as it appears to be on days when 20 children are robbed of their next Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Solstice, or Saturday morning eating cereal with little marshmallows while watching cartoons.
I didn’t want to mention the Newtown shooting. I didn’t. The families and friends of those slain have enough to deal with without media capitalizing on their tragedy. But as I wrote on what I thought would be a controversial but relevant topic, the flow led me back to today’s reality. A reality where we have more to worry about than someone saying Merry Christmas.
Whatever you’re rejoicing in now and in the coming weeks, I hope there is a little extra sparkle in your eye and a little more warmth in your heart. And have a Merry Christmas – to boot.
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“It’s Our Turn” is a weekly column that rotates among members of the Echo Press editorial staff.