The holiday season is upon us in full swing. We finished up the Halloween candy, we've picked that Thanksgiving turkey clean and we've been snacking on Christmas cookies before indulging in the New Year's punch and munchies.
Many people love holidays, and I've previously commented in this arena about Halloween and Thanksgiving, so I'd like to continue that practice and talk some about the upcoming celebration of Christmas.
Christmas is a religious holiday. I know some don't practice religion, and that's their choice. I know some are offended by religious practices, references to God, Jesus or the belief in a supreme being, heaven, etc.
Though I don't agree, I respect anyone's rights to feel this way. I am offended, though, by those who want their beliefs respected, but won't respect the rights of the majority who want "under God" left in the Pledge of Allegiance, or who use the word "Christmas," or play songs like "Silent Night," "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen," "We Three Kings," etc.
You see, I'm a believer that Jesus is the reason for this season. That's my belief. I don't try and cram it down people's throats because I realize everyone doesn't share the same beliefs. That's OK.
I am angered, though, by people who say things like, "It's my right not to believe in certain things, but it violates my rights if you believe them." That seems to be hypocritical.
There are some who celebrate the "magical" Santa Claus with their children at Christmastime, but might not acknowledge Jesus or the religious aspects of the holiday. Some coincidences, if you will, with the displays of Kris Kringle:
The celebration of Santa Claus, according to one source, traces back to the fourth century, when Bishop Nikolaos of Myra began a tradition of secret gift-giving to children of his area by placing coins in the shoes of the children who left them out for him. Another translation of the name of St. Nikolaos was "Sinterklaas," transformed into the present day Santa Claus - point being that the magic of Santa Claus might have come from the reality of a religious person.
The celebration, or story, of Santa Claus includes his deliverance of presents by sleigh, traveling through night skies using stars as his GPS.
Biblical scripture describes the Magi, the Three Wise Men, as traveling for days, bearing gifts and looking for the place of the Christ Child's birth using the one star as their guide through many nights of travel.
The word "Christmas" comes from the Old English translation "Christ's Mass," and is celebrated on Dec. 25, the date chosen by the Western Christian Church; the real date of Jesus' birth is not known.
It's both a religious and cultural holiday celebrated by billions around the world. The point here, again, is that if you celebrate Christmas only as the traditions of the fantastical figure of Santa Claus, it still has connections with religious beliefs, and if someone doesn't share the same religious beliefs with regard to the day or its meaning, that's OK, but don't be offended if those billions want to celebrate it.
Many people celebrate Kwanzaa. I have no problem with people celebrating this week-long holiday of the African-American culture. I don't celebrate it myself but am OK with others celebrating it. The same goes for Hanukkah. Again, the point being that not everyone has to believe the same things or celebrate the same things, but we need to be respectful of those who choose, or not, to believe or celebrate.
Our country was founded by leaders who believed in religious freedom. The mention of God is included in many documents drawn up by those Founding Fathers. In some ancient civilizations, the religions made up laws and how people lived. In those civilizations' hierarchies of power, bishops, priests and other religious persons were high on their pyramids of leadership.
There is too much of people disrespecting people in this country. We just experienced a "hellish" presidential election. The same can be said about congressional, state and local elections. You can't read, or watch, the news without seeing someone shooting or stabbing someone else, or kids bullying other kids - all of which are signs of disrespect; unfortunately, some are more violent than others. Year after year there are people who are very nastily outspoken about their rights being violated because someone in a school showed a Christmas movie, sang a Christmas song or even said the word "Christmas."
Some people like liver, some don't. Should there be a policy that says if you don't like liver, no one should be able to eat it? Some people paint their house gray, some yellow. Should there be a policy that says, if you don't like yellow, no one should be able to paint their house yellow?
There were, and are, some countries where people are told what they can and cannot say or believe (faith wise or politically) or express those beliefs freely. I hope our country doesn't join them by trying to tell someone they can't believe in their faith or culture and openly express that belief by using the terminology attached to it.
So, at this time of year, this season of glad tidings, good cheer, great joy and fellowship, I say, "Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus," but, like it or not, his character may have originated from a real-life religious person, and that person celebrated the birth of Jesus - in my opinion, the true reason for the season. A merry Christmas to all, and if you choose not to believe in the day or its meaning, or choose not to return my wishes, that's OK. It's your right to do so, but it's my right to believe what I do and celebrate it as I wish.