U.S. President Donald Trump has had an eventful first year in the White House. Although the circus-like atmosphere he’s created has frustrated many political observers, some good things have come out of it. One of them involves Christmas.
Trump, along with a significant number of Americans, believes there’s been a perpetual “war on Christmas” for some time now. They’re furious about the use of non-denominational greetings like “Happy Holidays” that are printed on cards, ornaments and other paraphernalia. They’re also angered by the disappearance of references to Christmas (and Christianity) in school plays and professional performances.
For years, the president has called for these attacks on Christmas to come to an end and said that with him in office, things would change.
This was reiterated in an October speech at the Values Voter Summit in Washington, D.C., where Trump told a group of (mostly) religious Christians: “We’re saying ‘Merry Christmas’ again.” In November, he told a crowd at the St. Charles Convention Center near St. Louis: “Remember, I was the one when I was here the last time, I said, ‘We’re going to have Christmas again.’ I was the one that said, you go to the department stores and you see ‘Happy New Year’ and you see red and you see snow and you see all these things. You don’t see ‘Merry Christmas’ anymore. With Trump as your president, we are going to be celebrating ‘Merry Christmas’ again.”
Indeed, Trump has been saying “Merry Christmas” at speeches and rallies all month. He lit the National Christmas Tree in Washington and will attend Christmas celebrations with everyone from congressional members to military families. The Trump family’s first official Christmas card reads, “Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year,” which is a stark difference to the Obama family’s “Happy Holidays.”
Many right-leaning (and right-thinking) Christians have been pleased with the president’s regular use of the phrase “Merry Christmas.” Some non-Christians are also onside with him, including myself.
As I’ve written in the past, I’m an agnostic Jew who has celebrated Christmas since I was young. My parents both had tolerant attitudes toward the festive season, unlike many of their contemporaries, even though it was never celebrated in our home (not for a lack of trying, mind you). Fortunately, my own home has had Christmas trees with ornaments and lights, wreaths on the door and garland on the fireplace and the banister.
I’ve never thought there was a war on Christmas in the U.S., or anywhere else. Many progressives, including former president Barack Obama, have used the word “Christmas” and the phrase “Merry Christmas” in cards, speeches and on social media.
But there’s no doubt in my mind that the political left has attempted to quell Christmas’s impact on society. As U.S. syndicated conservative columnist Cal Thomas (who doesn’t believe in this notion of war, either) told the Washington Post on Dec. 1, this has led to “pushback” from “churchgoing, flag-waving, tax-paying, committed-in-marriage individuals who see all their values and faith and what they believe in trashed regularly.”
He’s right. Some left-leaning Jews have been among the most obtuse when it comes to attacking Christmas. Consider the deluge of newspaper op-eds by Jewish writers over the years expressing confusion and frustration because their children wanted to decorate a Christmas tree and celebrate with others.
Poor little delicate snowflakes. Do you need a hug, or to speak with your rabbi?
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: Christmas is, and has always been, for everyone. Non-Christian parents should let their children enjoy the festivities, and join them to boot. It’s not going to affect your religious beliefs and customs; rather, it will broaden your horizons and make you more tolerant of other faiths.
Similarly, we shouldn’t be apprehensive about saying “Merry Christmas” to family, friends and complete strangers, following Trump’s example.
I’ll start us off. Merry Christmas, CJN readers!