March 26 ē 05:05 PM

Shaking hands with Scrooge again

December 23, 2009
I'm fishing around in a computer folder called 'columns' in my computer desk. I'm looking for a Christmas column to recycle. This is a trade secret I'm giving away here—a big fat one. I do recycle some of my columns. I know this is news to some, and others know every time I do it.

The reason? Sometimes I simply have nothing good to say. After a while, everything seems so self-centered and so, like, who cares? I know I'm supposed to share my stunning insights and whatnot, but over the years I come to realize that they're not so stunning after all. Actually, they're a little mundane, a little boring, a little self-centered and well, like, who cares?

So I look back on columns past. Like Scrooge's Marley, they are chains I have forged of my own hand.

The Scrooge similarities keep cropping up as I click through holiday columns past. Humbug! I say. The same old troublesome things crop up year after year. There is no joy in any of the few I saved—like the one that deals with the whole "Merry Christmas-Happy Holidays" fiasco of 2006. You may recall Bill O'Reilly's uhm some Americans' "War on Christmas." People were losing their minds because Wal-Mart and Best Buy favored "Happy Holiday" signs. "True Americans" were offended. Angry emails circulated like mad as indignant "Americans" ranted about the "reason for the season." Little note was taken when Rabbi Elazar Bogomilsky (an American, too) asked to have an 8-foot-tall menorah put on display at the Seattle's Sea-Tac Airport along with their display of Christmas trees. Extreme furor ensued. The Rabbi received death threats. The FBI was called in. My email inbox was strangely void of messages about that one.

Nor was one sound uttered about the hyper-commercialism of the "religious holiday." No one speculated on why whatever a commercial enterprise had to say about the season was so important, so vital to our individual celebrations of Christmas or what-have-you. A single soul did not give one thought to the huge "freedom of speech" issue that is held so near and dear to the hearts of all "true Americans." No one wants interference in anyone's personal rights to freedom of speech and expression unless the speech or expression isn't what's desired, like say, a menorah.

This year, the big right wing funding source, Mississippi based American Family Association is advocating a boycott of Gap, Inc. (The Gap, Old Navy, Banana Republic) for their holiday advertising, claiming the clothing company is avoiding the word "Christmas." The boycott was declared to run Nov. 1 through Dec. 25. The thing is, the AFA's claims were not true.

They declared war even though a pre-Thanksgiving ad launched by the Gap features young, hip, outrageously talented dancers in cool clothes chanting out "Go Christmas, go Hanukkah, go Kwanzaa, go solstice...Do whatever you wannukkah and to all a cheery night." Anyone can watch it on YouTube, listed under Gap's 30 second spot 'Go Ho Ho Ho,' (I speculate that the real reason for the boycott was not the avoidance of the word "Christmas," but instead has to do with the other words chosen.

Rather than being hailed as tolerant and happy, the AFA railed about the 30-second spot's reference to—gasp—winter solstice, that pagan holiday. No doubt they've overlooked the pagan origins of the "Christmas" tree, the yule log, mistletoe, even old Santa Claus himself. After the Gap produced an ad where "Merry Christmas" was adequately prevalent, the AFA lifted the ban.

Scrooge himself swoops into my heart again. I'm truly perplexed. Haunted by the recurring themes in columns of Christmas past, I struggle with all the double-speak when it comes to the "spirit of the season;" where "Peace on Earth and Good Will Toward Men" should be at least a possibility.

And like Scrooge, I dream of a time when I put my fingers to the keyboard and beautiful, pleasant sounding words flow out—like the bounty of that green-robed Christmas Present King in Dickens' story.

I write up a feast of happiness and joy, set a table with crystal wishes and sparkly dreams, fill all the stockings of good girls and boys and carry away all of the burdens the holidays—and just plain living—bring about. I don an "attitude of gratitude" and vow, like Scrooge, to keep it in my heart all year long.

Thank you for spending time here. I send heartfelt wishes. Merry Christmas. Season's Greetings. Happy Holidays. Happy Hanukkah. Kwanzaa wishes. Blessed be. Namaste.

Email Catherine at

Catherine Minolli is Managing Editor of the Tri-City Times. She began as a freelance writer with the Times in 1994. She enjoys the country life, including raising ducks and chickens.
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