This morning's Progress Report has an extensive backgrounder on the "Let's Put the Christ Back in Christmas" campaign that's currently swirling through the Zeitgeist. It's fine as far as it goes, although I'd pick one or two nits: It waits until the third graf, for example, to make explicit the movement's religious parochialism. It does regain some momentum with a spirited sprint through the recent history of Christmas-related looniness, linking John Gibson's mustache-twirling rumblings about "the outlines of the conspiracy" all the way back to Henry Ford's 1921 polemic "The International Jew: The World's Foremost Problem." (Enjoy that ride in your Taurus, now!) This passage dutifully nods to Salon.com's Michelle Goldberg, who writes that "To compare today's 'War on Christmas' demagogues to Henry Ford is not to call them anti-Semites." Umm, okay. But when I hear Bill O'Reilly muttering about "A very secret plan... to diminish Christian philosophy in the U.S.A.," the next thing I hear is the ghostly voice of noted Jew-non-liker Richard Nixon purring "Exxxxxcellent." (And yes, in my head, Richard Nixon sounds like Montgomery Burns.)
Progress Report's biggest omission, though, is less religious or even political than familial: It fails to address the fact that the holidays are a gut-wrenching bloodfest of emotional trauma for families everywhere, all across the cultural spectrum. Advice columnist Mr. Irresponsible, my sometime employer, has some thoughts on this: "Whether you celebrate Christmas, Hanukah, Kwanzaa or Wiccan Yule, you know in your heart that the things the holidays really ritualize are more profound than Hallmark images of home and hearth," he writes in his Five Point Plan For Surviving The Holidays 2005. "And what are they? Anger, frustration, and the soul-scorching cruelty that only your closest loved ones can deliver." If Speaker Hastert really wanted to perform a valuable public service, he would call the House back into session and rush to the floor a comprehensive package of legislation aimed at curbing the terrible toll of holiday-related intrafamily stress. Among its provisions:
- Strict enforcement of term limits on family visits
- Mandated periods of stress-reducing recreational activities ("Fun Control")
- Statutes of limitations on old family slights
- Mandatory silent time (Suggestions: 6-10 AM, 11 AM-5 PM, 7 PM-lights out, plus all meals and anytime liquor is freely accessible)
I'm just spitballing, of course, although I am available to consult with the Speaker on a per diem basis. I have nieces and nephews, and iTunes gift cards don't come cheap.