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John Lamb, Published December 19 2009

Lamb: Taking issue with the war on Christmas

Every year around this time, I am asked the same questions: “Do you really need another cocktail wiener,” “It’s getting late, shouldn’t you go home,” and “Do you think we’ve lost sight of the true meaning of Christmas?”

I answer all these queries the same way Ebenezer Scrooge shot down Bob Cratchit’s request for a space heater: “No!”

In hindsight, I may have been wrong about the first two, but Christmas is alive and well and ready to party.

Some may say that the holiness of the holiday has been overshadowed by the commercialism and the stress to have an idealized December.

Again, in the words of literature’s most curmudgeonly miser: “Bah, humbug!”

I am a big fan of Christmas (I even “liked” it on Facebook) and filled with extra helpings of cheer, but something I don’t cozy up to is people trying to sleet on my holiday parade and make it the most bummerful time of the year.

Like “the war on Christmas.” For the most part I’m a pacifist, but if I have to hear about this fictitious skirmish again from either side, my winter gloves are coming off.

I am in no way a poster boy for Christianity, but I believe in the basic tenets. I also know not everyone shares these beliefs and that just means different holiday parties for me to attend.

That said I’d rather hear some kids bang out “Away in a Manger” at a school recital than another rendition of the more politically correct “Grandma got Run Over By a Reindeer” or “Jingle Bell Rock.” And if there were Kwanzaa or Hanukkah songs to sing that weren’t written by Adam Sandler, I’d probably sing those, too.

As for complaints about the commercialization and the approximately $65 billion spent this year on gift-giving, Joel Waldfogel offers a simple solution in the title of his new book, “Scroogenomics: Why You Shouldn’t Buy Presents for the Holidays.”

Actually, his point is a little more nuanced. If you don’t know someone well enough to know what they would really enjoy, you shouldn’t feel the need to give them something they ultimately may not want. If you do feel the need to give them something, he suggests charitable donations or gift certificates.

There are lots of different ways to celebrate the season and lots of different reasons to celebrate it. Most importantly, it’s a time to show kindness and compassion to everybody.

So love your neighbor; it’s the Christian thing to do. Just don’t try to convert them because that was really more of a crusader thing to do, and talk about an ugly war.

Readers can reach Forum columnist John Lamb at (701) 241-5533