It is Christmas Eve and at least one tradition has been broken, my shopping is done!  In addition, most of the presents are wrapped and I don’t plan on being up until midnight or later with paper, tape and scissors (which are a bit dangerous when tired and in a rush).  Seems it is a year where traditions are not quite what we expect all around.

A couple of weeks ago we attended my youngest son’s Holiday program at school.  He was given a speaking part and was very excited about his performance, as were we to have a chance to see him.  He had given us the rundown of the program and I had some premonitions headed into it that I hoped were misguided but kept it all to myself as I didn’t want to steal his thunder.  The theme of the program was “The Greatest Gift” and it focused on giving during the season, from your heart and with meaning.

What struck me as odd was the lack of music about or mention of the TRUE story of Christmas.  The traditional story of Christmas.  The story of Christ’s birth in the manger, the shepherds, the star- you know the one.  The program lacked the traditional story and as one who celebrates Christmas, I noticed.

What the program did have is music for Hanukkah, Kwanzaa and Santa.  Each song was preceded by banter between two lines of kids who had the speaking parts.  The banter discussed a gift that the kids wondered what was inside and that eventually came to represent the gift inside all of us.  But again, no mention of Christ or the traditional Christmas story.

Some may say it is due to the separation of Church and State.  Although that separation, in my view, has been used beyond its original meaning, how would that explain the inclusion of Hanukkah?  It doesn’t.

Some may say the Santa element of the program represents Christmas and although it does, it represents a strange religion that isn’t quite Christianity.  Retail.  Santa represents the Christmas giving spirit and the magic of Christmas but is not part of the story of Christ’s birth.  St Nicholas didn’t visit the manger and put a present under the tree.  Perhaps it was because they didn’t have a fireplace.

So once the program was done I made mention to our friends sitting across the table regarding the lack of Christmas music or mention.  The father agreed with me that he noticed it too.  Just for the record, he is Jewish.

I realized after the presentation and sing along (more Santa and Rudolph songs) that this was yet another episode of our cultural “Don’t Offend Anyone” that is evident this time of year with Happy Holidays instead of Merry Christmas.  Don’t say or do anything that might make someone uncomfortable or upset them.  Don’t include things that someone could take the wrong way.  Don’t do or say anything that could make someone feel bad, or guilty, or insignificant.

What the program needed was Linus. Linus got it right.  Schultz knew what he was doing with Linus and brought a little reality through a cartoon many years ago.  So as I celebrate Christmas I will remember the true meaning, the meaning Linus reminded us of, and I will wish you a Merry Christmas as that is what I would want to hear from you.

Linus