11/11/2014 04:56 pm ET Updated Jan 11, 2015

'The War on Christmas' -- A Film by Ken Burns

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It has been over six and one-half years since the War began and still there is no end in sight.

It is a brutal war. One that pits brother against brother, elf against gnome, reindeer against reindeer, and worst of all, Santa Claus vs. the Martians.

It is that national cataclysm known as:


[Opening Music]

Its origins seem obscure and even petty now.

In the latter part of the 20th Century, rampant secularism was gaining strength in America. Christmas Parties became Holiday Parties, Nativity Scenes morphed into Petting Zoos, and Department Store Santas began giving way to Department Store Richard Dawkins'. Gradually the secularists were joined by disgruntled off-key carolers, reindeer haters, and chubby chasers rejected by Santa.

This Union, as it was called, demanded that there be just seven days of Christmas with only one Calling Bird, two French Hens, and no Lords-a-Leaping whatsoever. Frantic negotiations followed but failed over the verifiability of Maids-a-Milking.

On February 14, 2007, an overtired and jittery elf assigned to protect a shipment of lumps of coal for Santa's Naughty List threw a holiday wrapped Hershey's Kiss at a Union soldier. The soldier was badly chocolated. The first shot of the war had been fired.

In the beginning, the Union had the best of the fighting. In the Battle of Candy Cane Crossing, the Union's General Scrooge smashed through a line of Christmas Trees commanded by General Giggly Pointy Ears, resulting in the loss of over 47 candy canes, 28 holly wreaths, and six gingerbread men.

The fighting was fierce, as Union Private Lance Mesnick of Walden, Massachusetts recorded that day in his journal:

Everywhere you looked there were chestnuts roasting on an open fire! Suddenly I felt a sharp pain and whirling around I caught Jack Frost nipping at my nose! That's the last nose he'll ever nip...

-- Journal of Lance Mesnick, April 15, 2007

By day's end, not a creature was stirring -- not even a mouse -- at Candy Cane Crossing.

Christmas fought valiantly back. A force of seasoned elves under the flamboyant General Stonewall Sniggle de Goop surprised Union troops in a dense fog at Gumdrop Hill. How did Christmas forces manage to maneuver through the fog? Private Rudolf the Red Nosed Reindeer wrote to his wife:

Oh, Sarah! My heart is full and my hindquarters tingling! This one very foggy eve Santa came to say 'Rudolf with your nose so bright, won't you guide our carnage tonight?' Dearest Sarah, I long to have my hooves around you!

-- Letter of Rudolf the Red-Nosed Reindeer to Sarah Schwartz Reindeer
August 14, 2007

Just 11 days after the Battle of Gumdrop Hill, Rudolf the Red Nosed Reindeer contracted hoof and mouth disease and Santa shot him.


The war was to continue on for six long years without decisive victory on either side. Mistakes were made by both sides, such as Union General Grinch's decision to invade the North Pole. Implementing a scorched ice policy, Christmas forces decimated the Union troops which were wholly ill-equipped for the frigid temperatures and constant painful Nutcracker night raids.

In the Battle at Mistletoe Pass, Christmas retaliated by firing a deadly barrage of fruitcakes at Union forces, but the Union managed to counter them with an Anti-Fruitcake Shield. All of us should have such a device. A further assault with jetties of eggnog also failed when it turned out Union troops actually liked the stuff.

Will there ever be an end with honor to this fight? Will a wise and just leader emerge as did once before during an earlier great American struggle? Will we ever get presents again?

Oh, Sarah, who the hell knows?

[Closing Music]