r m p




Debacle on Thirty-Fourth Street

Last week I heard that Macy’s department store in New York City has decided to drop its traditional “Merry Christmas” greetings, hitherto posted everywhere in the store during the weeks leading up to December 25. They are replacing “Merry Christmas” with “Happy Holidays,” a blandly ecumenical slogan that has always made me want to barf. It’s kind of like saying, “This week, worship at the golf course of your choice.”

            “Happy Holidays” affirms nothing. Whenever anyone, an individual, an institution, a greeting card, says it, all they are saying is, “I’m no longer wishing you a Merry Christmas.” It is all negation, albeit timid, gutless, and euphemistic negation.

            Oh, I know the drill, the ACLU catechism: “If we have public expressions of one particular faith, members of other faiths will feel left out.” That is nonsense. There is no reason the government should not facilitate the celebration of an occasion that is part of its citizen’s culture. Naturally, Christians being in the majority, there are going to be more manger scenes than menorahs on display.

But the thing to do is to provide multicultural education by publicly taking note of the major holidays of other now-American religions, too, such as the Jewish Hanukah and the Islamic Ramadan.

Indeed, this alternative is so obvious that one cannot help suspecting that the ACLU really doesn’t give a righteously indignant darn about the sensibilities of the religious minorities. In fact, if the ACLU has their way, the turn of the Muslims, Jews, Hindus, and Buddhists will come! In the end, the ACLU will work to outlaw expressions of their faiths, too.

For their real agenda is a secularistic state. Forgive me for seeming to split hairs here, but there is a mile-wide difference between the concepts of a secular state and of a secularistic one. The difference is that between the USA and the old USSR. We live in a society wherein no single religion is the official party line. That is a “secular” state. There is no single state religion, and all religions may flourish freely.

But in the Soviet Union, all religion was suppressed, allowed to exist under only the most repressive restrictions. The USSR was a state with an anti-religious party line. That is a “secularistic” state, and I believe that is the not-so-hidden agenda of the ACLU as well as Americans United for Separation of Church and State. The only raw-nerved minority the ACLU and AUSCS are lobbying for is themselves: secularists and atheists.

Now Macy’s has fallen in line with secularist propaganda.

And here we find a rich yet revolting irony. Remember the Christmas classic (or should I say “holiday classic”? No.) Miracle on 34th Street? Santa Claus comes down from the North Pole a bit earlier than usual to conduct an experiment. Like the angels checking out the ill rumors about Sodom, Kris Kringle has come to New York City to see if Christmas has utterly succumbed to commercialism, cynicism and unbelief.

He takes as the focus of his efforts Doris Walker and her daughter Susie, neither of whom believes in Santa Claus or much of anything else. The mother has been disillusioned in love and dares not take a leap of faith on any other matter. She has raised her daughter to be a strict rationalist with as little tolerance for having fun as for superstitious belief.

Kris Kringle’s path crosses theirs, because he takes a job as Macy’s department store Santa, and Doris works there. He insists he is the one true Santa Claus and forewarns Doris right up front that he means to make converts of her and her daughter. They are a test case for him, and if he cannot bring them out of the secular-materialist torpor that lies thick over the modern landscape, then “Christmas and I are finished.”

Kris’s crisis comes when the sour-pussed Mr. Sawyer, the quack industrial psychologist at Macy’s, diagnoses him as a madman, despite his wholesome effects on the store and its way of doing business. Kris is taken away to the insane asylum. But in a trial culminating on Christmas Eve, he is vindicated: all those whom he has helped simply cannot believe he is just crazy, so they decide he must in fact be Santa! Mr. Sawyer is denounced by R.H. Macy and fired on the spot. The Scroogism he represents is sent packing.

But now, in 2004, it is back! It appears that the peevish Mr. Sawyer has returned to Macy’s and is now running the show. Turns out that he was only temporarily defeated, made a strategic retreat, and has counter-attacked. He has gotten his way in the midst of Kris Kringle’s stronghold, Macy’s department store. And the rest of us have been caught sadly unprepared, complacent.

One can only hope that Macy’s CEO will find himself haunted in the wee hours by R.H. Macy in the role of the Ghost of Christmas Past. But there will be no need for any elaborate and time-consuming spirit journeys like the ones Ebenezer Scrooge embarked on. All the Ghost of Macy needs to do is hand his successor a DVD of Miracle on 34th Street. That ought to do it.

Robert M. Price



Copyright©2004 by Robert M Price
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