The recent holiday concert at St. Mary's inspired many smiles, as a tiny preschool girl played Mary with a baby doll. And the Miracle on Lake Avenue again featured children playing Mary and Joseph, angels and shepherds. It is only upon further reflection that we realize that such events touch us in part because they are becoming more and more rare.
Public schools have been forced to censor Christmas carols and erect "holiday" trees, and in some cases students have reportedly been suspended for not complying. Government, corporations and even theme parks have removed references to Christmas, in favor of the generic, "holidays" or "winter celebration."
Several years ago, department stores started to order workers to say "happy holidays" rather than "Merry Christmas," though the same hypocrite chains profit madly by peddling all manner of Christmas goods.
This year's new inroads seems to be atheists targeting state governments - as in a display erected next to the nativity at the Washington State Capitol It reads, "At this season of the Winter Solstice may reason prevail. There are no gods, no devils, no angels, no heaven or hell. There is only our natural world. Religion is but myth and superstition that hardens hearts and enslaves minds."
Certainly we realize that schools are not churches, and that there are other religions and sets of beliefs.
Yet we fail to see why singing a historic carol harms anyone, or saying "Merry Christmas" belittles anyone.
It is a season of spirit, hope and outreach, of helping and giving. Regardless of our beliefs, we can benefit from that - in fact, we need that desperately.
The atheists' efforts are especially puzzling. If people believe in nothing, why do they get so worked up to attack what others hold dear? Do they suspect they may be wrong, and need to convince themselves?
At any rate, let our season not discriminate or hate - anyone.
At the same time, don't let anyone tell you what you can say, how you can celebrate. Don't accept censorship.
Each year our Christmas issue features a nativity scene on the cover. This year it may be more appropriate than ever.
Merry Christmas... to all.