Wednesday, January 6, 2010


This last Christmas season brought to the forefront an issue that we have been dealing with for many years. In this age of political correctness (PC) it all appears to be coming to a head though it will likely be debated for many more years, ad nauseum. The issue is what do we call those bedecked, festooned and ornamented trees heretofore called Christmas Trees?

The tradition of raising and decorating evergreen coniferous trees (pine, spruce, fir) to celebrate the Christmas (Yule) holiday is a fairly recent event tracing from present day northern Germany and the 15th century though ancient (yes, Pagan) civilizations have been decorating evergreens for thousands of years to celebrate the Winter Solstice. It appears that the celebration of Christ’s birth is now characterized by the raising and decoration of these same trees.

All you need do is look to the great Christmas Tree in Rockefeller Center in New York (fluffed and choreographed by Dallas, Texas’ Design Solutions), the National Christmas Tree on the south lawn of The White House or thousands (yea, millions) of other publicly displayed Christmas Trees to understand the heroic proportions of this Christian holiday. Yes, let me repeat, they are known as Christmas Trees.

For many years my Christmas celebrations in Georgia started on Thanksgiving Night and were centered on Atlanta and the lighting of the Great Tree at Rich’s Department Store. I remember attending many a lighting, watching many more on television and marveling at that wonderful specimen of a tree (generally 75 feet or more) perched atop the glassed four-story Crystal Bridge at Rich’s that spanned Forsyth Street in downtown Atlanta. Iconic Bob Van Camp (1917–1990) of WSB Radio/TV (The Voice of The South) and the Fox Theater’s incomparable organist and handler of Mighty Mo the world’s largest theater organ was the host and storyteller, narrating The Christmas Story. The music program was provided by eight choirs (later there were more) and a lighting display that alternated and then wholly illuminated the participating choirs.

The history and tradition continues in Atlanta with the Macy’s Great Tree though the tree has since been moved to Lenox Square in uptown, upscale Buckhead. It’s not the same and considerably diminished, though, especially considering that the old Crystal Bridge location was like the ancient Pharos Lighthouse at Alexandria as the Rich’s Great Tree could be seen for thirty miles or more – a Christmas beacon for the entire southeast. Since Federated and now Macy’s have taken over, it hasn’t been the same. Another great tradition bites the dust… The old Rich’s downtown store which covered the better part of two city blocks has been torn down and the Sam Nunn Federal Building now stands in its place. Progress?

In an ironic twist in 1974, the year before Rich’s was sold to Federated, The Great Tree snapped in two during installation – a harbinger of things to come. No, I never rode the Pink Pig. I was too big… The one significant observation even as this tradition evolves is that for me The Great Christmas Tree will always be the one on Rich’s Crystal Bridge, way back when...

It seems, however, that other business entities around the country as well as the Federal and state and local governments have been bending over backwards so as not to potentially offend those in our population who are not Christian – all to the exclusion of the rights and privileges of the greater majority who reside in those same towns and cities.

All we need do is note the stupidity of Kentucky’s Democrat Governor Steve Beshear who while arguing that Christmas shouldn't be politicized inexplicably tried to rename the state Christmas Tree the Holiday Tree. Beshear stepped into a monumental pile of political poop as the donated tree (a 30 foot Norway Spruce) was given by parents of a son who prematurely passed in 2008 and was well known for his generosity and love of Christmas. Beshear’s decision to rename the State Capitol Christmas Tree was greeted with a cacophony of pissed off voting citizenry who facilitated a change of heart in the good governor. Beshear dodged a major bullet by sort of recanting through aides by inviting all those who had protested to attend the lighting of their Christmas Tree. So, the Commonwealth of Kentucky once again has a Christmas Tree on the lawn of the state capitol in Frankfort while Beshear has several fried eggs (sunny side up) permanently stitched/stapled onto his face. This scenario has been playing out in other US cities and states.

The Cary, NC Town Council will soon be deliberating whether to formally call their two decorated trees Christmas Trees as they have been heretofore referring to at least one as the Community Tree. Let’s hope that they come to a sane and honest decision. We of Might of Right applaud the likes of California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and California First Lady Maria Shriver (What a Team!) who in 2004 turned off the “Holiday Tree” and turned back on the Christmas Tree.

While growing up in Providence, RI we knew some Jewish families who decorated trees during the holiday season and jokingly called them Chanukkah Bushes. No their menorahs weren’t Christmas Candelabras… I know of practicing Muslims in Texas who decorate their houses during the Christmas season though I know that Islam prohibits that kind of celebration. I have no problem with other religions piggy-backing on Christmas and embracing those seemingly ever more elusive “Goodwill towards Men” behaviors.

While this issue has been brewing for some time it would appear that with Obama now in the White House Conservative Christians will insure that this issue remains in resurgence.

Look at all the furor over the Obama’s now infamous and highly politicized White House Blue Room Christmas Tree ornamentation which appears to us more an exercise in incredible bad taste and poor political judgment than an indictment against the holiday. I think it appropriate to ask the question, “Why would folks create these ornaments?” They do appear to be more agenda driven and a sad commentary on our desire for inclusion, whatever the cost. We did note that other ornaments on this the official White House Christmas Tree rejoice states and locales to include California’s Ronald Reagan Foundation & Library. By the way, though the official Christmas Tree, it’s but one of 27 trees in the White House…

These decorated evergreen trees signify and celebrate only one event – The birth of Christ - and are significant only to Christians though many more of other faiths embrace and celebrate this happy holiday season. If you are a practicing Druid and want to celebrate the winter solstice, please go ahead. Those that desire to celebrate other religious holidays should be supported in those efforts and allowed to do so. It’s their right. But, both sides of this debate need to take care.

Jonah Goldberg of the National Review Online (NRO) said it for me in 2004, “Tolerance must be a two-way street. If minorities want the majority to be tolerant of them, minorities in turn need to tolerate at least some of the norms of the majority. Simply because there are more Christians than Jews or Muslims or atheists, doesn't mean that Christians should always get the shaft. That said, Christians — or at least the politically organized ones — don't do themselves any favors when they start talking like just another identity-politics group. Christians seem to be complaining more this year than usual about the war on Christmas, even as they are finding more success. Arnold Schwarzenegger renamed the governor's "holiday tree" a Christmas tree. George Bush is the first president ever to include a quote from scripture on his Christmas card. Besides, once "Merry Christmas" becomes a political statement, everyone loses.”

The repeated always ludicrous attempts to be PC and secularize Christmas ostensibly to make it appealing for folks of all faiths appears to have come full circle. Since the tree only has real significance to Christians or retro Druids (and not to the exclusion of other religious holidays) it seems a poor attempt at appeasement and really nothing more than politicians burning their candles at both ends. A tree by any other name just won’t get it done… just ask the aforementioned Kentucky Governor Beshear. Perhaps we can follow the counsel of Thomas Lindaman of and rename the tree the “Tap Dancing Monkey Drunk on Eggnog Tree.” OK, probably not, but point made. Maybe we should focus on how the tree is ultimately used?

In 2007 the City of Glasgow, Scotland converted their 60 foot George Square Christmas Tree into what they call the Bullwood Caber [24’10’- 280lbs (not 600lbs)] which was presented to New York State and appropriately marched up 6th Ave (The Avenue of The Americas) during the 2008 and 2009 New York City Parade of Tartans by the spirited Tartan Army (fans of the Scottish National Football Team). It sure is pretty though has been relegated to ceremonial status as no mortal could ever turn it. The Bullwood Caber was given into the care of the great and legendary Clan McDuff and is appropriately housed at The Roslyn Presbyterian Church in Roslyn, NY. We are assured that the Keith Clan’s Alexander Marshall and Milady Susan were nearby.

Well maybe the Scots hit on something! All those good folks with Christmas Trees small or large but especially those in excess of 25 feet can convert them to Scottish Cabers suitable for the myriad Scottish Highland Games competitions around the world. Besides being thrown in landfills, becoming mulch or habitat for fish, these trees can now facilitate a cultural exchange for children of all ages. Whatever these trees may be called today they would then inherit a much nobler end. All that from the humble Christmas Tree

Welcome Tannenbaum, Nowell!


Ned Buxton

P.S. Did I tell you about the Black Watch and Danish troops who engaged a Christmas Eve Caber Toss competition at Camp Danevang in Basra, Iraq in 2006? NB

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