Monday, December 11, 2006

Christmas Trees in Seattle

Last year at this time, we had the big debate over words. Was it better to say “Merry Christmas!” and risk appearing religious, or to say “Happy Holidays!” and be generic? People actually became hot under the collar about this non-issue. You no doubt remember that.

People are getting crazy again. This year it is over Christmas trees in an airport in Seattle—SEA-TAC. It seems a Jewish rabbi threatened to sue the airport if they didn’t add an 8-foot menorah in celebration of Hanukkah, near the largest Christmas tree. He thought it would be a nice addition.

The Seattle Times reports that the rabbi was horrified when the airport folks decided to take down their nine Christmas trees, rather than appear to be exclusive. They are too busy for litigation and don’t “have time to play cultural anthropologists.” They feared that putting up a menorah would only be the beginning, and they would eventually be forced to include symbols of all the religious persuasions in America.

Well . . . another non-issue. I’m sure the rabbi didn’t intend to start a blazing fire—and neither did the airport people, who were trying to avoid one.

Why can’t Christmas just be a time of love and peaceful co-existence? Surely we could manage that for a few weeks. Instead of fighting, we could be extra-concerned this season about orphans, widows, the homeless, the hungry.

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