Between The Bridges

I don't quite know why, but somewhere between Bob Geldof's Do They Know It's Christmas? by Band Aid back in 1984 and today, the greeting "Merry Christmas" has become the salutary equivalent of Hester Prynne's Scarlet Letter A. All mention of the "Christmas" holiday is strictly verboten as it may offend some non-believers, you know...the ones who never get to see the Polar Express, and should be replaced with such politically correct and non-offensive greetings as "Happy Holidays," "Seasons Greetings," "Happy Winter Solstice" and the like. Just recently, while ensconced in their university safe spaces, some of our proud social justice warrior students published a hit job on Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer, a 53-year-old Christmas movie, based on nothing more than unthinking animus toward a popular children's tale stating that it is a parable on racism, misogyny and homophobia, and describing Santa as a bigoted, exploitative bully. Are you kidding me?

I am always amazed at the self-righteous attitudes of certain groups and individuals who go out of their way to ruin Christmas for children. Several years ago, I chanced upon a talk radio show where the guest was discussing the non-inclusiveness of the greeting "Merry Christmas" with the host. The guest, a psychology professor, then recommended that parents should not “…lie to their children about the existence of Santa Claus…” as the children will inevitably come to know the truth as they grow up either from their older siblings and friends or by some other means. The psychologist stated that upon learning the truth, the child “…might feel betrayed and begin to wonder about other lies his or her parents may have told.”  Have any of you ever known of a child requiring therapy upon ultimately discovering the secret of Santa Claus? Of course not! I mean, c'mon, what a bunch of malarkey! I was infuriated with this pompous, over-educated, self-important, Grinch-like voice on the radio until I calmed down, realizing that that the field of psychology has always been the refuge of those medical students who faint at the sight of blood! Remember Psych 101? “A Freudian slip is when you say one thing and mean your mother.” 

One of the great things about growing up in the 1950s was that we lived in a small apartment over in Woodside, Queens. Each December, a real Christmas tree was set up and decorated in our small living room, and every Christmas morning there were gifts under the tree from Santa. We didn’t have a fireplace, so the question naturally arose as to how Santa got in the apartment each year. Mom deftly fielded the question by responding, “Jesus, are you really that daft? If he can get down a chimney, how hard do you think it is for him to come through a window or a door?” Made perfect sense to me at the time. 

Many decades later, I was asked to "stand in" for Santa Claus by Eileen O'Hare and pay a visit to the school children of Broad Channel at P.S. 47 down on Power Road. When I asked one young boy sitting on my lap if he had been good during the year, his eyes flew wide open and, after quickly glancing around the room, he looked down at the floor and nervously asked in a low voice, "Why, did my parents say something to you?" I responded by laughing long and hard, and assured the lad that he had no reason to worry because he was on my good list.

What bothers me about Christmas shaming is the sheer illogic of it. All mentions of one observance are eliminated, while others are celebrated, in the name of political correctness. It is not uncommon to receive newsletters from our children's schools, our politicians and others announcing winter solstice celebrations and concerts, while simultaneously wishing everyone a Blessed Eid... Happy Hanukkah... Happy Kwaanza and a Happy Diwali. It is simply hypocritical, unfair and just plain wrong.

In closing, may I say that Christmas, Santa Claus, and yes, Rudolph too, are truly the "final frontier" of childhood innocence and, as adults who all benefited from their magic as children, we should all strive to keep that magic alive during every Christmas season. If we can help make a child smile, help them forget the real world for even just a little while – then as far as I am concerned, that's the real magic of Christmas.

So this year, let's quit with all the "Happy Holidays" baloney and put a stop to "Season's Greetings" silliness. Life is far too short for meaningless platitudes. Christmas is a magical and hopeful time of year for many, many people, and it doesn't deserve to be watered down for any reason, political correctness least of all.

I will now return to binge watching "Countdown to Christmas" on the Hallmark Channel as I extend my sincere wishes to each and every one of you for a very Merry Christmas! 

Broad Channel - why would anyone want to live anywhere else?

 (Photos by Vinny O'Hare)

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