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Observations: Merry Christmas! There, I said it.

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image Yes, that's right -- even dogs and cats love Christmas. Merry Christmas from my family to yours. Mitch Traphagen Photo

Should I now sit back and wait for the Politically Correct Police to come and handcuff me?

By MITCH TRAPHAGEN

Merry Christmas! Yes, that’s right — I said it: Merry Christmas! Should I now sit back and wait for the Politically Correct Police to come and handcuff me? Or, should I prepare to take fire from the warriors engaged in the so-called “war on Christmas”?

I don’t think I’ll do either.

I’m convinced there is no real war on Christmas. I think, perhaps, that it is merely the fabrication of a handful of people with too much time on their hands and a media in search of new and evermore controversial things to get people riled up about. Now entering the half-century mark on this planet, I’ve yet to come across anyone who took offense when I wished them a Merry Christmas. I know that I certainly wouldn’t take offense if someone wished me a Happy Hanukah. To be honest, I’d be honored because that meant the person saying it thought enough of me to include me in something that was important to them.

Besides, the chance of anyone wrongfully wishing someone a Merry Christmas is remote, at best. A Gallup poll a few years ago found that despite 80 percent of Americans identifying with a Christian faith, 93 percent of Americans celebrated Christmas. In other words, the odds are strongly with you in making the traditional wish to another person — even to a stranger.

Now I know that some may consider this as evidence of a war on Christmas: if non-Christians are celebrating it, then it has lost all meaning. To that I say, bah humbug! If you are a Christian of deep faith and an atheist has a Christmas tree and gives presents, how exactly does that diminish your faith? And since when is altruistic generosity in buying gifts for others considered war on Christianity?

There is joy in this season for people of all faiths and even for those who lack faith. I believe it is more important to spread that joy, to be a vessel of the joy that surrounds us this time of year, rather than to grumble about stuff that is all too easily imagined or is best relegated to meaningless fodder.

Each week I receive information on dozens of polls hoping I’ll publish the results in the pages of this newspaper. A few weeks ago, I received two that really struck me. One stated that most Americans believe that kids should be able to pray in schools. Another stated that most Americans believe people should be allowed to have nativity scenes in their yards.

Well, hey! I’ve got some great news for you! Both things have already been granted to you! There is absolutely nothing that says a kid can’t pray in school. I’m pretty sure many have — probably even a few that would consider themselves atheists — while sitting down for…say, a final exam in geometry. And unless you live in the Deed Restricted Community From Hell, there is no one out there who can tell you that you can’t have a nativity scene. (Unless, of course, you are one of those who insist on using real actors and live animals as part of it — those donkeys can make a mess and infants probably shouldn’t be expected to put in long hours and days in the manger without some serious compensation.)

I guess it’s ironic that I should be fanning the flames of any notion that a war on Christmas is partially media-induced — normally I bristle a bit when people blame the media for any and all manner of society’s ills. Personally, I think there is more of a war on the media than a war on Christmas. “Lamestream media,” “Faux Noise,” “Liberal media” — those commonly used phrases are not meant as compliments. I believe that some people are becoming so hardened in their own personal opinions that they tend to strike out and attack anything that might offer an opposing view — and specifically any view that proves their position wrong. And there are other people, politicians and talking heads mostly, that take advantage of that and play into it, thus furthering the deterioration.

That said, the media is by no means innocent. Almost all media outlets are for-profit businesses and if people respond to controversy (whether real or imagined), then they’ll happily feed it to the public by the ginormous spoonful.

It feels like today’s problems are so immense that there is little any of us can do as individuals to resolve them — and the frustration over those problems builds to the point where some of us feel isolated and personally attacked by them. Thus while no one person can do anything about huge bank bailouts or government officials violating the public trust, we can lash out when we feel as though OUR version of Christmas is threatened. So that is exactly what we do.

But to me, Christmas is in our own hearts and souls. I’m quite certain it means something different to each of us and no one can take that away. No one can declare war on it because it would be a losing battle. As long as you remain true to your heart and soul, Christmas is never under any threat whatsoever.

And speaking of the media (and war, to a degree) — the speed at which thorough coverage came out upon the death of North Korean dictator Kim Jong Il was impressive and the big media outlets deserve kudos for it. Someone has to write all of that stuff and, as most of America awoke Monday morning; their computer screens were already filled with stories about a lunatic man few really knew much about. Of course, in all likelihood, that coverage will soon descend into some political-oriented smite-fest via those same outlets by the ginormous spoonful, but I can’t imagine anyone faulting the depth of coverage provided literally within minutes of the late-night breaking story.

Yet perhaps not ironically, revealing just how much the media world has changed, I think the best quote of all came via Twitter from Joshua Treviño, Vice President for Communications at the Texas Public Policy Foundation:

Joshua Treviño @jstrevino
I’d like to think God let Havel and Hitchens pick the third.
posted to Twitter, December 20, twitter.com/jstrevino

Treviño was referring to the fact that such things often seem to happen in threes. More specifically, he was referring to Vaclav Havel, poet, playwright, and former President of the Czech Republic who led the bloodless “Velvet Revolution” that has changed the world in so many ways, and to Christopher Hitchens, the famous writer with a lightning fast wit and an acid pen, who enraged some but caused millions to think. Both recently passed away and, perhaps, the two of them had a hand in having one less dictator in the world. If God indeed allowed those two men to pick anyone to pluck off the face of the Earth, surely Kim Jong Il would be a safe choice.

While I am personally uncomfortable making light of death, particularly this time of year, I also find it difficult to think of someone who starved millions of people for the sake of whacked-out, world-endangering personal ambitions as a man.

Regardless, with such breaking news to occupy the too-much-time-on-their-hands pundits on the web and airwaves just days before Christmas, along with the endless stream of drivel from a Congress that just can’t seem to put America first, I think it safe to declare at least a diversionary cease fire in the supposed war on Christmas. So with that, Happy Hanukah to those celebrating the eight-day holiday from Dec. 20-28 and, taking my chances with the Politically Correct Police, from the bottom of my heart I wish you all a very Merry Christmas. May you find joy in your hearts and peace in your souls. It is out there for all of us.

P.S. Yes, I know Christopher Hitchens was an atheist. And I also know that, to me, God works in mysterious ways and Mr. Hitchens was blessed with incredible talent. So again, Merry Christmas to you, and to you, Mr. Hitchens, wherever you are.

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