Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Goodwill To Men?

Back to a more altruistic mode... and to offer my benediction for the whole season.

Like the buildup to the holiday, the phony war on Christmas has started earlier this year, so in my small way, I'd like to pre-empt the trumped-up media-manufactured firestorm against anybody who would rather say "Happy Holidays" in the only way I know how: with the gift of Dickens.

My text comes from chapter two of A Christmas Carol, the section where Scrooge is wandering the streets of London with the Ghost of Christmas Present, who is busy spreading good cheer from his torch. If you're wondering, Dickens was talking about a particular blue law proposed in Parliament which would shutter places of amusement on Sundays in an era where the lower classes worked intensely long hours Monday through Saturday, and would have deprived them of what little joy they could achieve on their only day of rest. The main point, however, is much more universal.

“Is there a peculiar flavour in what you sprinkle from your torch?” asked Scrooge.

“There is. My own.”

“Would it apply to any kind of dinner on this day?” asked Scrooge.

“To any kindly given. To a poor one most.”

“Why to a poor one most?” asked Scrooge.

“Because it needs it most.”

“Spirit,” said Scrooge, after a moment’s thought, “I wonder you, of all the beings in the many worlds about us, should desire to cramp these people’s opportunities of innocent enjoyment.”

“I!” cried the Spirit.

“You would deprive them of their means of dining every seventh day, often the only day on which they can be said to dine at all,” said Scrooge. “Wouldn’t you?”

“I!” cried the Spirit.

“You seek to close these places on the Seventh Day?” said Scrooge. “And it comes to the same thing.”

“I seek!” exclaimed the Spirit.

“Forgive me if I am wrong. It has been done in your name, or at least in that of your family,” said Scrooge.

“There are some upon this earth of yours,” returned the Spirit, “who lay
claim to know us, and who do their deeds of passion, pride, ill-will, hatred, envy, bigotry, and selfishness in our name, who are as strange to us and all our kith and kin, as if they had never lived. Remember that, and charge their doings on themselves, not us.”

Keep this in mind when the assault of the talking heads begins. One of the many goals of Christmas is to stop being a jerk for a day, or a whole month, with an option to give it up forever. Abusing a door greeter or a cashier because a man on the radio or television tells you the phrase "Happy Holidays" is a conspiracy of the secular left, instead of a different way of passing on the same age old message of goodwill, isn't the reason for the season. If we must take back the holiday, we should take it back from the forces of hate and division.

Let there be peace on earth, and let it begin here.

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