Tuesday, December 07, 2004

Everybody wants to be a martyr

So in my "thank god jury duty is over" post Monday I remarked that my fellow jurors were taking up Bill O'Reilly's complaint that Christmas is being "attacked." What I didn't know at the time is that O'Reilly's guest, Elizabeth MacDonald who is senior editor of Forbes magazine, imputes the rise in drinking and mood disorders to the removal of traditional Christmas ornaments from department stores: "And you have got to wonder why people become depressed alcoholics around the season, because the meaning is sucked out of it."

What are Bill and Liz so in a lather about? Federated Department Stores has requested that its employees use non-religious specific holiday greetings:
Phrases such as "season's greetings" and "happy holidays" embrace all of the various religious, secular and ethnic celebrations that take place in the November/December period. Because these expressions of good will are more reflective of the multi-cultural society in which we live today, they tend to be used more and more frequently across all segments of society.

Bill finds this outrageous and said on his December 1 show, "Even Jewish people like Christmas." Bill, please get a grip. Most people like getting presents. Dioramas featuring plastic baby Jesuses (Jesi?), angel ornaments, and pictures of wise men don't really resonate with us Jewish folk. Really. We just don't really do the Christ thing. And I can say that my years as a depressed alcoholic had nothing to do with the lack of religious ornament. If the season increased my depression, I'm sure it had much more to do with a Wordsworthian awareness that "getting and spending we lay waste our powers." (Even Christian people like Wordsworth, don't they?)

Don't get me wrong; there are a lot of great Christians out there. I find it somewhat fantastic that so many people quite literally believe tales about rising from the dead and whatnot, but heck, my people think some woman was turned into a pillar of salt and some man managed to build a boat big enough to haul two of every animal, so who am I to say. But to take up as a banner of victimization the fact that department stores are moving away from the de facto assumption that everyone is a Christian seems a bit overboard, wouldn't you say? I guess it's that martyr thing. We do have that in common, don't we?

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