I’m confused. Thoroughly. This Christmas season has me a bit boggled.
Two days ago, I was in a hotel lobby, and there was a Santa Claus there with the offer of free portraits. Not just for the young ones apparently–I saw 3 very gray-haired individuals squeeze onto a couch with Santa in order to get their photo with him. I think he was glad that they didn’t all try to squeeze onto his knee.
But that’s not the confusing part.
Santa’s greeting as he meandered the lobby and welcomed portrait posers was “Happy Holidays!” Really? Happy holidays?
Now, I understand the value our modern society places on being “politically correct” (PC), but this seems a little ridiculous. One of the primary folkloric symbols of the Christmas season also forgoes the apparently “incredibly offensive”–yet supremely relevant–“Merry Christmas” greeting for one a bit more neutral and acceptable to the general populace?
I greeted Santa with a “Merry Christmas!” (I did not sit on the couch with him, nor on his knee) and got no reply. No “Merry Christmas” from Santa? Is that how far our society has gone? We must strip away the very essence of symbols and relationships in order to make them as least offensive as possible, as palatable to the masses as can be?
But that still is not the center of my confusion.
Yesterday, I was in a public, non-profit zoo. The whole place was decorated for the “season” (dare I say for “Christmas”?), but what startled me the most was the playing of Christmas carols over the park’s speaker system. And not only the secular tunes like “Jingle Bells,” but also songs with an overt, clear Christian message.
So, at this time of year, Santa cannot be Christmas but the zoo should be? I expected to see placards decrying the zoo’s playing of Christian propaganda over its music system. I did not. There were no complaints, no stammers of outrage, no requests to mute the sound system. At least, none that I was aware of.
This is confusing to me. Society–American, at least, and perhaps Western cultures more generally–wants to create as little offense as possible, especially in the realm of religion. I hear there is a regular petition to prevent the White House from erecting a Christmas tree due to its religious connotations (not sure what those are), and that it’s not fair or appropriate for the government to be pushing one particular religion.
So this year, I have encountered a PC Santa who does not say “Merry Christmas” and a public zoo which continuously played declarations of the specifically Christian message straight through from 9am until 8pm.
Now can you see why I’m confused this Christmas?
Perhaps society is just confused. “Merry Christmas!” is a little too brazen, but a December holiday celebration without Christmas carols is lackluster and…unpatriotic? So, we forbid Santa from saying naughty words and we ask the zoo to play “seasonally appropriate” music–hoping that no one listens to the fact that the zoo is playing overtly message-bound lyrics and that Santa himself is silent.
The whole idea about being PC is that we don’t want people to be offended by what they see and hear. But apparently, society is also hoping that they’re really not listening anyway. So, why don’t we just scrap the whole scheme altogether?
It would certainly save me some confusion.