2010-12-01 / Opinion

A Brighter Holiday Season

by Alex McRae

You never know how people will react to adversity. Opinion polls show that a majority of Americans are anxious, angry or desperate over the state of the economy. But natural-born optimists still insist the glass is half full, and they can’t wait to fill the rest of it with lemonade squeezed from farmfresh disaster.

Thank goodness for them. And they may be on to something. Job growth is mired in economic quicksand, and the unemployment rate remains way too high, but a few silver linings are appearing on the gloomy cultural horizon.

In recent years, holiday headlines were dominated by stories about human Grinches dedicated to removing any mention of Christmas from secular American society.

The anti-Christmas crowd picketed retailers bold enough to say “Merry Christmas” instead of “Happy Holidays.” They hired an army of attorneys eager to file lawsuits aimed at keeping religious symbols off public property.

Things finally got so silly the Christmas bashers even tried to ban displays of fir trees and candy canes on government property, claiming they too, represented Christmas.

Call me nuts, but saying candy canes and evergreens promote Christmas makes about as much sense as claiming that bleach promotes the Ku Klux Klan because it makes sheets whiter.

But this year, with the economy in the toilet, such stories are in mercifully short supply.

Unfortunately, it’s not because the anti-Christmas crowd has been converted. It’s because people who once had the time and energy to pursue such efforts are concentrating on more important things, like finding a job.

It’s tough out there. So tough even criminals are having to think “outside the box” to make crime pay.

A few days ago, police in Weston, Mo. were shocked when they made a drug bust and in addition to dope and cash, found a huge pile of electronic benefit cards (EBTs), which are now used to supply funds for public assistance programs, including Food Stamps.

Three crooks were accepting the EBT cards as payment for drugs.

If that doesn’t prove times are desperate, what will? Years ago, Americans were horrified when we first saw people holding “Will work for food” signs. Now crooks are saying “Will accept food (stamps) for drugs.”

The End must be near. At least no one has called the trio of dope dealers the Three Wise Men.

As we say down South, “It’s a blessing.”

But as bad as the economy is here, it’s worse elsewhere. Things are so bad in Australia that in a desperate effort to boost Christmas sales, Prime Minister John Howard just announced government support for placing nativity scenes in shopping centers.

Howard said that while Australia is culturally diverse, “Christmas is a time where the community and all people of all faiths are invited to come together in joyous celebrations.”

Talk about Change We Can Believe In. In good times, the Aussies were willing to throw baby Jesus under the cultural bus in the name of political correctness. Now, if Jesus can put a jingle in the nation’s cash registers, He’s welcome to join the holiday celebration.

I wonder if Australian merchants will put baby Jesus’ manger in front of Toys ‘R Us or Baby Gap.

Although this is clearly not what people have in mind when they say, “Jesus is the reason for the season,” I hope 2010 Christmas sales are through the roof. If not, other seasonal traditions could be endangered.

In the first year after his death, sales of Michael Jackson music and merchandise generated over $250 million. Spring is coming. “Thriller” is bigger than ever. Are you ready to see the Easter Bunny get booted by the King of Pop?

(Send your e-mail comments to: alex@ newnan.com)

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