Let Others Enjoy Your light

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“There’s a fine line between super cute and super tacky Christmas decorations”

Do you remember when having your house decorated like Clark Griswold’s in Christmas Vacation was something to be laughed at and avoided? Now it’s a badge of honor and something to strive for. You have inflatables, roof top decorations, synchronized lights, lights set to music, crèches and who knows what else Costco will think of next. I can’t believe the things people put up these days. It’s crazy.

Wait. Check that. I can believe it, and before I adjust the onion on my belt I need to remember my childhood. Because, you know, super cute and super tacky are all in the eye of the beholder.

When I was a kid there was man in the neighborhood who did his house and the neighbor’s houses up in an absolutely extravagant manner. Every year his displays were different. They were intricate affairs that drew thousands of people in the weeks leading up to Christmas. He put Clark Griswold to shame.

The theme was always Santa’s Workshop and every year it became more and more elaborate, with robotic elves and eventually a real Santa Claus. Let me set the scene: Southern California, a successful middle-class contractor with access to tools and labor who delighted in making children happy.

I was told he would begin planning in the spring and start construction in the summer. He would frame out entire rooms in the front yard of his house and the neighbor’s, and it would be house quality construction. It would get finished out and decorated in the months before Thanksgiving.

As the years went by he expanded it to cover the front of 6 houses. It was a whole panorama scene you could walk through. There would be animatronic elves building toys in Santa’s workshop or dancing at a party or ice skating, animatronic reindeer moving their heads in the stable, and a Santa who you could wait in line and see. I remember that they would find out your name and surreptitiously get it to Santa before you got into his lap so that you would just know that it was the real Santa because he knew your name even before you could tell him. Santa would give you a candy cane when you were done visiting.

There was even a giant pine tree that was strung with standard sized colored light bulbs and a big star on top that you could see all the way from the freeway, 1/2 a mile away. They used to get a cherry picker to hang the lights because it was so high.

The level of craftsmanship and the quality of the work and thought put into everything was amazing. Dozens of people volunteered their time and the man behind it made sure that every year was better than the last. The fronts of half a dozen houses would disappear for a couple of months a year so that the local neighborhood and visitors could experience a Christmas wonderland. It was his gift to us.

We embraced his gift, and people flocked to it. Without fail the newspapers and local television stations would do an annual story about it. On the weekend it was packed with people and cars driving by to get a look. Probably a thousand people would visit it every weekend.

I visited it every year until I graduated high school and it was always something I looked forward to. I would invite a bunch of friends over to my house and we walk the mile over there caroling the whole way and back. When I was in college I heard he stopped doing it because of ill health. I’ve always thought that other people missed out by not seeing his work and gift of love year after year.

Now here’s the rub: I bet you at least half of his neighbors hated his guts for turning their neighborhood into a spectacle choked with traffic and people walking on their lawns for several weeks a year. I’m not sure how I’d feel about that being down the street from me. I’d like to think I’d be game and help out the cause.

The point is, by sheer numbers a whole bunch of people in the neighborhood had to hate the sight of it, or even the thought of it. To some it was super cute, and to others super tacky. But, to him it was a thing of beauty.

But, I’ll tell you what: He decorated for Christmas in a way most people don’t. He went at it full tilt and made a commitment most people would never make. He went big and proud and loud and did what he wanted to do. His work and vision spoke for themselves and were compelling enough for people to come from all over the city of Los Angeles just to look at it.

So, when I hear someone wonder where the line is between cute and tacky with Christmas decorations I’d prefer to think of it all as going big. It may not be to anyone else’s taste but, if you want to, go big and enjoy what you have.

Be merry and bright. Let others enjoy your light.

Merry Christmas

President Obama’s Early Christmas Surprise

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“President Obama’s entire policy shift on Cuba is based on the illusion—in fact, on the lie—that more commerce and access to money and goods will translate to political freedom for the Cuban people.” – Senator Marco Rubio

I’m confused. Is it just Cuban communists you don’t want to have anything to do with? Or, are you proposing we cut diplomatic ties with China, too, Senator Rubio? Our biggest trade partner is a communist nation known for their less than stellar record on human rights. Although, given the recent Torture Report I think we’ve lost some of that moral high ground when it comes to human rights.

Why stop there? Why not break ties completely with Russia? Shouldn’t we sever relations with Vietnam or Myanmar? Why not make the ultimate stand and cut all contact with Saudi Arabia? Their human rights record is atrocious. Women have virtually no rights. There is modern day slavery. An oppressive government holds their boot heel on the throat of its citizens, where dissent is not allowed. Why in heaven’s name would we have anything to do with such a brutal regime? Oh, yeah…

For 55 years we’ve been trying to make sanctions against Cuba work . You know, after half a century it’s time to admit the embargo isn’t working and Cuba is and will stay a communist country. They made their choice and we need to accept that.

Unfortunately there is a sizable contingent that believes any day now the Cubans were going to wake up from the fever dream of dictatorship and the cult of personality. Evidence be damned, they were going to accept America as their savior. Why, we had them right where we wanted them, I tell you. Then Obama had to go give the store away. That asshole.

These are the same people who believe this change in policy helps Fidel Castro. He’s been out of power since 2008, and he’s 88. He pretty much got everything he wanted in his nearly 5 decades as dictator of Cuba, and retired. What do we think we’re keeping from him?

The important question to ask is not whether an elderly man gets an ego boost out of this – the question we should be asking is how this will change the life of the average Cuban. Well, for one thing they’d better get ready for Starbucks and Mickey Ds. There are already some big hotels on the beaches. If we normalize relations with the Cubans it’s going to look like Cancun in 10 years.

That’s reality. Marco Rubio can claim that commerce won’t change the country, but that doesn’t make it so. I don’t know, maybe Rubio has never traveled outside the United States, in which case he wouldn’t be aware of how profoundly tourism and commerce changes a country. Not always for the better. But, there will be change, nonetheless.

Doubtless the opening of Cuba to the United States will not be financially beneficial for everyone. Some will do better than others – as they do here. It would do well for Rubio to remember that income inequality is an enormous problem in this country, and another issue where we cannot claim the moral high ground.

You simply can’t deny though, China and Russia’s population has seen an increase in the standard of living as they opened up to the West (the rise in pollution is another story for another day). I’m not painting it for more than it is, but the standard of living has been rising.

What Rubio wants to do is to turn the clock back 55 years (for so many reasons) to when the embargo worked, in that magical, fantasy time that never happened. He wants to believe that the industry and property that were seized in the revolution will be returned. I have some bad news for you, Marco: It’s never going to happen. Never. Your family and friends will never get their stuff back. Making the Cuban people suffer for a lost cause with an embargo that doesn’t work is the height of selfishness. Things aren’t always fair, but compounding the unfairness by asking others to suffer for your desires is flat-out wrong.

There are those who would drag around the corpse of the Cuban Missile Crises as a reason to keep the embargo. To which I’ll reply: The Cuban Missile Crisis happened before I was born, 10 Presidents ago. Dude, let it go. It didn’t take us more than half a century to get around to normalizing relations with Japan or Germany. Besides, the country that was supplying them with the hardware is no longer in existence. Let me repeat that for emphasis: The country that supplied Cuba with the missiles no longer exists. It has crumbled in the sands of time, and relegated to the dustbin of history. Yet, we can’t let bygones be bygones 55 years later?

As is usual for people who can do nothing but criticize, Marco Rubio has no alternative plan to the President’s. He would keep in place an open-ended, ineffective embargo that only serves to keep families apart and punish the Cuban people until they act like Rubio wants them to. In other words, it’s the political equivalent of holding your breath until you turn blue.

All these facts won’t stop the esteemed Senator from Florida from throwing everything he can into the gears that might move this forward. He will try to hold up the nomination for an Ambassador, he will try to deny funds for an Embassy. He will work against a Congressional effort to end the embargo. He will do all those things in a cloak of righteousness and never for a moment question if he’s being selfish.

Even sadder is that, as usual, this has been reduced to another partisan issue, one which most of the Republican Party has taken as a personal affront. Why – it’s like he’s the President, or something! How dare he set policy!

So, while I have great hopes to visit Cuba soon (please let me get there before the KFCs), I don’t have great hope that normalized relations will happen smoothly. As with everything in this country it’s a fight, because with all the partisanship nothing is ever done easily anymore.

Yup, it’s the season of peace and goodwill and the leadership of this country is having a fight over whether or not to get along with another country.

Torture is the Reason for the Season

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“This man got his head sawed off while he was still alive and you liberal pricks show concern over sleep deprived terrorists and waterboarding?”

How utterly charming.

Nothing says the reason for the season like excusing torture and reducing people you disagree with to vulgarities.

Do people actually think when they post such nasty stuff that others will spring to action to tell that person how right they are? Do they think they’ll be changing any minds?

It’s always interesting to see someone take a proverbial dump on their wall, crow about their viciousness like it’s a virtue, and then sit and wait for the positive affirmations to come rolling in. It’s always satisfying when they don’t get what they’re looking for.

In this case I couldn’t be more thrilled that after a 24 hour period this person had only one other wing-nut agreeing with him. Of course, that person was a 9/11 truther so it added an extra helping of wing-nuttery to the affair.

Did this person think he would win hearts and minds by calling people he disagrees with a prick? Because –personally – I find that nothing makes people listen and to consider my point of view more than name-calling and demeaning them as if you were in Middle School. Yessiree, it just opens the lines of communication.

Yes, it’s amusing to watch a professed Christian who has put up a ‘Jesus is the Reason for the Season!’ picture, only to vigorously defend torture a few days later.

Too bad he didn’t take the time to brush up on the Christian operating manual and read as far as Matthew 5:23 “But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also.”

Or, he should have headed over to Proverbs 20:22 “Do not say, “I’ll pay you back for this wrong!” Wait for the LORD, and he will avenge you.”

Perhaps the most important religious admonition comes from Mathew 7:12 “So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.” I think this is as simple as it gets. We are not treating others as we would have them treat us. I fear our troops might get treated exactly as we’ve treated others and they will be subjected to rectal feeding and sleep deprivation, with an order of death from hypothermia on the side.

You can argue ifs and buts all day long. The truth is you either follow the Bible and what’s known as the Golden Rule, or you don’t. Religion is not a buffet where you pick and choose what you want. If you support torture you go directly against a fundamental cornerstone of Christianity. There’s really no wiggle room here.

You can’t mouth the words you’re a good Christian and support torture at the same time. Don’t get mad at me – I didn’t make the rules.

So, until you actually practice being the Christian you pretend to be please forgive me if I don’t take you seriously.

Tis the Season for Dog-Whistle Racism

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“A Virginia cop is kidnapped and murdered by several black gang members. Sharpton, where are you?!”

Give it a rest for a few weeks, OK? You can be a racist when the holiday season ends on Valentine’s day. There’s no need to pollute your feed with that shit and make the rest of us have to look at your hate.

I get it. You’re uncomfortable at having to face the overt racism blacks put up with all of the time in this country. I get it. It makes some people feel icky.

That icky feeling must be why Right Wing News is pulling false equivalency arguments out of their ass, and why you’re linking to it on your wall.

Here’s what happened: Waynesboro, Virginia reserve police officer Kevin Quick, who was white, was murdered in February, 2014, by 4 black members of a gang with ties to the Bloods, called Kweli Uhuru. The fine folks at Right Wing News (godammit that I gave them a click) would like to conflate Ferguson, MO with this tragedy. Shame on them for that.

The fact is that Quick was murdered as part of a robbery and carjacking. It was a murder of opportunity. It was tragic and sad. But, Quick was not targeted because he was a police officer, nor because he was white. He was targeted because he was in the wrong place at the wrong time. To make this into a racial issue is sickening, when in fact it is a gang/organized crime issue.

The other fact is that 4 people are in currently in custody and will go to trial in May 2015 for Quick’s murder. That’s the important thing: There will be a trial. There will be an opportunity for a prosecution of the facts and the chance for a vigorous defense. The wheels of justice will be turning this spring.

But, there won’t be a chance for both sides to have their say in Ferguson. Officer Darren Wilson might have been found not guilty. He might have been found guilty of involuntary manslaughter like Officer Johannes Mehserle was when he shot Oscar Grant in the back with his service revolver instead of his taser on New Year’s day 2009 in an Oakland BART station. We’ll never know because there won’t be a trial.

See the difference? See how that might make some people angry?

So, when websites like Right Wing News spew their disingenuous bile and falsely equivocate the 2 terrible deaths it makes me sick.

I mean, really, can you stoop any lower than to use the random, violent murder of a man to further your racism? Have you no shame, no ethics?

Actually, looking at the rest of the page linked – no. No there is no shame and apparently no bottom for them to hit.

The article stops just short of dropping the n-bomb, but is chock full of dog whistle racism:

Obama is a racist trying to start a race war. (He just is dammit, don’t ask me to prove how)

Young black men are thugs. (Of course they are, bless your heart)

The President is inciting rioting with his supposed alignment to radical groups. (Their citation is a  link to another one of their articles – one that not only offers no proof it’s not even about radical groups)

Obama’s a Muslim and is happy officer Quick is dead because Quick is just another dead infidel. (Because everybody knows our Christian President is really a secret Muslim, and all Muslim’s want all non-believers dead)

Seriously.

I suppose the punishment for people who lie like that is they have to live in the conspiracy they create. Every day they’re trapped in a place where they think the President is actually a foreign-born Muslim bent on destroying America. It must kill them to know that the President of the United States is black. It must kill them in a way a normal person can’t comprehend.

But racism is something they hold on to, that’s why they have to drag the murder of Officer Quick into this. They’re desperately trying to make it tit-for-tat when it comes white-on-black or black-on-white murder. It needs to even out on their scorecard so they can ignore the actual racism facing people of color in this country. And if it doesn’t even out in real life they’ll fudge the numbers.

When they ask where Reverend Al Sharpton is in this they’re implying he doesn’t care that a white man died. It seems to be a theme with them. They’re insinuating that because Sharpton didn’t hold a press conference to condemn this murder that he’s approving of it. Apparently they think Sharpton should comment on every one of the 16,000+ homicides in the United States every year.

So, at this blessed time of year it’s always cheery to find some thundering piece of garbage racism staring at me between the questionnaire on what color my soul is, and someone else’s picture of their elf on the shelf.

Seriously, we all know you’re a not-so-closet-racist when you post dreck like this.

How about during your high holy days you just pretend to be the Christian you so proudly claim to be?

Just mouth the words Peace on Earth for a few weeks. You don’t have to mean it, but it would sure give the rest of us a break.

Elf on the Shelf: Santa’s Stalky Spy

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“I have a SERIOUS problem: I can’t find Twinkletoes!! OMFG. Total panic”

Sucks to be you.

I have no problem admitting that I think Elf on the Shelf is creepy and I’m glad I never had to deal with it as a parent.

For those of you who aren’t familiar with it, Elf on the Shelf – A Christmas Tradition is a 2005 children’s picture book about elves who are Santa’s spies. The book comes with a stuffed doll called a scout elf that ostensibly watches your child and flies back to Santa in the North Pole every night to report about their behavior. Every morning between Thanksgiving and Christmas finds the elf in a new position in the house. Like its cousin Flat Stanley the more original or outrageous the position the better.

The doll itself comes in male and female, light skinned and blue eyed, and dark skinned an brown eyed so you can take your ethnic pick of who you’d like to be tattling to Santa about your child’s every misstep. The Elf gets its magic from being adopted by a family and being named, an elf might lose its magic if it is touched by the children.

I first heard about Elf on the Shelf several years ago when I saw people posting pictures on Facebook of stuffed elves getting into mischief. It was mildly cute and I didn’t think much of it as I scrolled past. As the last few years have gone by more and more people started doing it, with their vignettes getting more and more elaborate, I thought about the whole phenomena. I came to the conclusion that I don’t care for Santa’s Stalky Spies.

My first problem with Elf on the Shelf is that I detest a marketing ploy being called a tradition. Seriously, when the book was released in 2005 the name was Elf on the Shelf – A Christmas Tradition. A tradition the day it was released? Wow. That’s something. Especially since it was a tradition that took a few years to catch on after first publication.

But, catch on it did, and are they ever marketing the hell out of the whole thing. Go to The Elf on the Shelf website and find the book and cheap toy doll on sale for $30. You can buy your elf various pieces of clothing like a $10 leather jacket, or a $7 football jersey. For $25 you can buy your elf a chef’s apron and get a cookie cutter thrown in. $20 will get you a new product for 2014 called Elf Pets: A Reindeer Tradition. That’s right you can buy a pet reindeer for your $30 stuffed elf.

The whole website is just pushing crap products on their entirely made-up Christmas tradition. That’s not entirely true, I admit. They’re also pushing crap on a completely different totally bullshit made up tradition: It’s called Elf on the Shelf: A Birthday Tradition. Yes, they’ve managed to whore out birthdays, too. They have a birthday Countdown Calendar and Birthday Tradition Game that sells for $40. The Countdown Calendar is an ersatz advent calendar that is supposed to have a trinket put in each pocket on every day for the four weeks leading up to the birthday girl or boy’s special day. That’s right – it’s not enough to have a birthday party and a big day to celebrate, the new tradition requires a month of tithing before you even get to the party. Don’t forget that for the big day you want to be sure to get the $25 kit to decorate a chair. See if you can put your arms around that. The new birthday tradition involves a month of gift giving and special decorations for the birthday boy or girl’s chair.

So, we’ve determined that Elf on any Shelf is nothing more than a sickening consortium designed to move product. It will come as no shock that there are videos, comic books, e-games, figurines and even a special edition 2014 Elf on the Shelf skirt. They have truly monetized their ‘tradition’.

But, that’s not what bothers me most about Elf on the damn Shelf. What bothers me about it is that it’s another way lie to your children about why they should behave. Don’t tell them that they should behave because it’s the right thing to do. Lie to them, and tell them that a small cheap toy is going to tell Santa if they’re having a bad day. Just over there, hiding in the African violets, is a nosy tattle-tale elf whose sole purpose in ‘life’ is to watch you and judge you all day long. Then, when you finally fall asleep it flies off to the North Pole to tell Santa how you measure up and whether or not you get a good score for the day. Blackmail parenting. Charming.

If you need a stuffed elf to help you get your kid to behave for one month a year you might want to rethink your parenting style. Not only that, the subtle message you’re sending a child is that if they don’t get everything they want for Christmas it’s because they just don’t measure up. If they’d been better, done more and tried harder they’d be getting everything on their list.

But beyond crass commercialism and unintentionally damaging messages is the idea that it’s normal to have someone watching your every move. You must always be on guard because you are always being watched.

But, for fun you can look at it like a conspiracy theorist does: The Elf represents our surveillance state in an insidious way: We’re only being watched for our own good, we’re told. If you’ve got nothing to hide you’ve got nothing to fear from the Elf’s report to the Big Fellow, who keeps the information far away in a place you have no access to. (Let’s not even talk about the metaphorical layer of bureaucracy the Elf represents.) Are we comfortable with a myth that desensitizes children to constant surveillance and lack of privacy? Are we also getting how this meant in jest?

Yes, of course, it’s harmless fun. I’ve no wish to get between you and your fun. Just give a thought to its larger implications about glorifying invasion of privacy and stalking in exchange for material goods.

If that seems far-fetched to you at least admit that this is a modern commercial construct masquerading as a tradition, and that the only thing its manufacturers care about is moving units. Just because you call it a tradition doesn’t make it so.

Goodwill towards Mankind and all that crap

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“The Countdown to Christmas Has Begun!”

No it hasn’t, that began in September.

Honestly, Why not just go ahead and start Christmas in July. Hell, keep the decorations up all year. Why not? It’s really what people want.

The first Christmas stuff I saw this year was over Labor Day at Costco. It was Christmas decorations in a Star Wars theme. They were sitting next to the Halloween costumes which were also out too early.

Here’s the thing: Costco wouldn’t be stocking these things if people weren’t buying them. So, who are these people? Who are the people who see a fully decorated Christmas tree in the first week of September and think, “Sure, it’s a full quarter of the year away, but I want to get ready for Christmas now.”

They’re just as bad as the people who refuse to take their decorations down. We’ve all been in a place where you can’t believe the decorations are still up at the end of January. These people are so into Christmas that they have decorations in and on their homes for nearly a third the year.

Don’t you get bored with it? If not, why bother to take them down at all? Why not just go ahead, make the commitment and just have your decorating scheme Christmas.

Or, would doing that get in the way of Halloween decorations? Which, by the way, kudos to the person who sold the idea of giant inflatable yard decorations for the average consumer. They’re unbelievably overdone and the majority are on side streets where no one will ever see it, except the people who own it. Even then, they only see it when they turn it on or off.

Why not just give in and make it the most wonderful time of the year all the year? We can sing Christmas carols all year long, send out Christmas cards a couple times a year, wear our Santa style bathing suits to the water park. It’ll be like Christmas in Florida all year long.

There’s a house near me that put up their light display a week before Thanksgiving. Same thing with the mega-church in my neighborhood. They can’t even let us have a day of Turkey and feasting without rushing into the season. So, yay for them. They win the race, I guess. How much you want to bet they’ll be the last to go down?

As a personal note I don’t start decorating the house until after my birthday, which is at the beginning of December. I don’t like celebrating a Merry Birthday. So we don’t usually get our tree until the first weekend in December. We take it down just after New Year’s Day. It’s pretty simple. Now, hey, if your thing is decorating the tree the day after Thanksgiving have at it. It’s a very common tradition. But doing it before that, or keeping it up much after the first of the year is just stretching out a time of year to make it something it’s not.

People who have to make it a longer holiday than it is – and dammit it’s long enough as it is – end up having the firetrap tree. You know what I’m talking about: a standing wooden match. A tree so dry that a spark from static electricity could set it off. One that’s been sitting there so long that the needles fall of when you simply look at it, a la the Charlie Brown Christmas tree. It’s a sad thing, the tree is, but not quite as sad as the willful stretching of a holiday that has come and gone

My prediction is that they will start selling Christmas trees the day after Halloween. Mark my words, it will happen. There will be demand and early sales will justify the availability. The Christmas Season will start on Dia de los Muertos and stretch out until Valentine’s day. They already have stores open on Thanksgiving, so that inviolate line has been crossed. The season can be redefined in any way a marketing person wants. Early season sales will try to draw consumers in, although the fake ginned-up shopping day that is Black Friday will remain. Even though it’s not the busiest shopping day by any means, marketers are not going to let go of that image. And as long as they can fabricate a need for people to get into fist fights for electronics there will be a Black Friday. Conversely, as long as people are selfish and hypocritical there will be shopping on Thanksgiving. Which is to say it’s here to stay.

But really, there’s one good reason why Christmas all year long won’t work: It’s because we could never be kind to each other that long. Something about the season sort of brings out people’s better natures. There’s no way in hell people could – or would – do all that brotherhood, charity and be kind to others crap more than the 4 or 5 weeks they’re already forced to do from Thanksgiving to Christmas. People like to be good, but not that often. More accurately, people like to imagine they’re good. But, actually having to do the work of being kind and thoughtful all year long is more than most ever want to do.

Goodwill towards all mankind is nice and all, but really hard to do.

Ho Ho Ho! Merry Bill of Rights!!

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“Share and Like if you agree that it’s Merry Christmas, not Happy Holidays!!”

Really? All the things in the world to get upset about and you’re going to be offended at someone wishing you a pleasantry of the season that doesn’t specifically recognize your holy day?

Go away and take your phony religious persecution with you.

There are so many reasons people would choose to use the phrase Happy Holidays, and being inclusive is the biggest of them. There’s only one reason for getting offended by it – and that’s because you need to pretend you’re a victim.

Here’s the deal: You’re not being oppressed if someone chooses not to take part in your religion. In fact that’s called freedom and it’s guaranteed in the Bill of Rights.

It’s all very well if you’d like to put the Christ back in your Christmas, I’m not standing in between you and the exercising of your religion. That relationship is entirely up to you. If your faith is so weak that you need all those around you to continually reinforce your beliefs then maybe you have some soul-searching to do about your personal relationship with your God.

I say ‘your God’ intentionally because there are other groups celebrating holidays at this time of year that have a different understanding of God than you. Or, are you one of those revisionists who think this whole time of year is devoted strictly to a holiday the Christian religion co-opted from the pagans? Sorry to break it to you, but the Holidays normally start at Thanksgiving (although it could be argued they start at Halloween now) and go through New Year’s Day, unless you’re Catholic, and then you go through Epiphany on January 6.

Why, just in the month of December alone Buddhism observes Bodhi Day, Hinduism has Panch Ganapati, there is Yalda for Paganism, of course Judaism celebrates Hanukkah. Let’s not forget Kwanza, Boxing Day, New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day. Some people even celebrate Festivus. And believe it or not – some people don’t celebrate anything at all. All of these people have the right to practice their religion or lack of it in any way they see fit. In fact that notion was so important to the Founding Fathers that the first clause of the first sentence of the first paragraph of the first right enumerated in the Bill of Rights ensures it. To wit: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof;” it says. Boom. That’s so clear even someone who thinks they’re being persecuted religiously can understand it.

But, for those who only accept the notion that we celebrate Christmas in December I would ask that you please tell me which version of Christianity must I follow for it to be a real and true celebration of the day? Protestant? Catholic? Mormon? Anglican? Southern Baptist or regular Baptist – and if so which Synod? Quaker? Shaker? Methodist? Episcopal? Orthodox? Lutheran? Anglican? Unitarian? Seventh Day Adventist? Fundamental? Evangelical? Pentecostal? I mean, really, which one is truly celebrating the holiday? They can’t all be right, can they?

If you’re one of those who is all inclusive about other forms of Christianity but nothing else, then we have found our religious persecutor. Those who only tolerate other forms of Christianity are the highest forms of hypocrites, and usually they’re yelling the loudest about religious oppression. If you recognize the right for other Christians to practice their faith in their churches, but aren’t willing to be tolerant of any other faiths you are really part of what’s wrong in this country.

You have the right to whatever kind of religion you want to follow. Kindly extend to me that same courtesy. If I choose not to celebrate your religion in your fashion get off my back. It’s not a personal affront to you, so stop acting like it is. Please don’t expect me to celebrate the season or the day as you do.

But really, in the end, this is one of those strictly fabricated non-stories that didn’t exist until our news cycles had to have 24-hours-a-day of outrage and fear fueled controversy that poses as programming (I’m looking at you, Fox News and CNN). The false narrative of a ‘War on Christmas’ has created a problem where none existed. Can you remember Happy Holidays or Seasons Greetings ever being a problem until the last decade?

What’s the problem with being more inclusive? What’s the issue with respecting other people’s beliefs and celebrations?

But, most important: Why do so many people not want to allow the religious freedom guaranteed to all of us in the Bill of Rights?