Tradition dictates that someone at the dinner table will make a fuss about political correctness during the Christmas season. Right alongside the cheerful holiday music that makes you hum along and drive yourself nuts at the same time, people make a big stir and the holiday war continues to rage. This benefits no one, including myself, mainly because I’m just in it for the pretty lights.
I’m Jewish. I was born Jewish, raised Jewish and I even taught Hebrew to little Jewish kids, but Christmas still reigns as my favorite time of the year. Now, my Jewish readers, don’t tune me out yet. My favorite holiday is Chanukah of course, but that usually rolls around Christmastime.
Why do I love the Christmas seasons? The decorations, of course. Your house looks silly if you put a giant blow-up dreidel on the front lawn, but decking the halls with lights, wreaths, nine blow-up reindeer, a sleigh and a 7-foot-tall Santa screams normalcy. My neighborhood goes crazy about light decorations. Hired services exist that cover every square inch of your yard in colorful lights.
My Christmas Eve tradition involves driving around and looking at all of the decorated palm trees and the perfectly lined up inflatable decorations in my neighborhood. I’m always surprised to see the amount of time people put into decorating their houses. Some look as chaotic as the house from National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation. My favorite house is the one with the A Christmas Story leg lamp in the window. I love driving by these houses for one simple reason: I have the attention span of a goldfish and I like looking at twinkling lights.
I attend Florida State University, a large state university. That means two things around Christmas season: Supposedly equal representation of all religious holidays (I personally think Kwanzaa is under recognized) and people getting pissed off about holidays being under recognized (case-in-point).
Still, FSU has its fair share of Christmas decorations. Decorated Christmas trees and red-wrapped boxes are offset by a few scattered menorahs, but no grand centerpiece dominates campus or makes a big affair whose presence ushers in the holiday season. In New York City, the Rockefeller Christmas tree acts as a symbol to New Yorkers’ that the holiday season began. At FSU, we need an inclusive way to welcome the holiday season.
I understand and agree that officials can’t stick a giant Christmas tree in the middle of the campus green, mainly because Christmas is in the name. And let’s face the facts; the school also putting out a giant menorah won’t help either. Trees are just sexier than candleholders, even ones that hold nine candles. I propose a compromise to appease the culturally sensitive and desire for festive lights.
What is it about basic decorations, like lights, that make seem exclusive to Christmas? Nothing! We can follow the current shift towards secular holidays. Put the grand religious statements on the backburner and focus on what the modern point of all of these festivals should be: Bringing people closer together.
There doesn’t need to be a nativity scene, Santa Claus or a 50-foot blow-up dreidel, but how cool would it be to see your school’s football stadium strung up with hundreds of thousands of little lights? Lighting up the stadium would be a symbol of unity amongst the school. No green and red; blue and white; black, red and green; just your school’s colors. After all, aren’t we all in this for the pretty lights?