In this space at Thanksgiving, people were urged to be thankful, for all the goodness and health and gifts in their lives.
That was not enough for several readers, who criticized that God was not the focus of written thanks. The newspaper's "apparent desire for political correctness" was "pathetic," chided one reader.
Desire for political correctness? Not really. Any perceived slight of God at Thanksgiving, (widely regarded as a secular holiday, not tied to any one religion) was closer to an omission. Editorials on this page are often the last thing done in the work of an edition, and they can be hastily prepared, in a few minutes, heeding a deadline and a word limit. Not enough time for reflection, too often. Sorry. That's how it is.
Yet political correctness, and whatever its meaning, has become one more polarizing argument in this country. The extremes — either someone is so politically correct as to say or write nothing offensive to anyone, or so politically incorrect in the apparent dichotomy as to say and write something intentionally offensive to just about everyone. There is no middle ground, no speech or thought or text that is candid and honest, yet respectful and considerate.
So now it is Christmas, the celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ, the Lord, the Savior, whose birth and life and death and resurrection remains the greatest, most profound event in the history of mankind. We write this, with meaning — Merry Christmas. Celebrate the miracle.
For many, millions in fact, Christ's birth is a part of the Christmas season, but not its entirety. Respect is due to the millions who religiously celebrate the Savior's birth. Yet, for millions, Christmas represents something else.
It is the time of year when human beings are at their very best, sharing their love and wealth and gifts with family and friends and people they've never met. Foodstuffs flow to pantries for the needy. Firefighters' bins swell with toys for poor children. We put money into the kettles of the Salvation Army, and write checks to charities perhaps forgotten the rest of the year. We share kindnesses with co-workers, cards with faraway cousins and acquaintances, cookies, pictures of the kids another year older.
Christmas is a time to remember. Some of those memories are cherished. Others are painful. Christmas is very difficult for so many people, who recall the losses, the hurt of years past, who feel guilt about too few presents under the tree, or anxiety about family and strained relationships, or the pressure of too much money spent. It's not all figgy pudding and jingle bells.
Yet it remains a season of wonder, and of light, in the form of Christmas lights and decorations at the time of the winter solstice, the Northern Hemisphere's darkest days. Economies may come and go, but lights go up every Christmas. Millions of them. There are homes in our communities so beautifully lighted they appear afire. (Looks like a good year in the inflatable Christmas ornament industry, too.) All of it communicates joy and happiness, and it is heart-warming.
Some governments, sensitive to the aforementioned "political correctness," put up few lights. Others have brilliant displays; if you're up in northwest Marana, for example, drive by the Marana municipal complex and look at the lights and tree. It's very beautiful.
Gov. Jan Brewer, running for office in 2010, has issued a statement on her campaign website about an executive order "encouraging the celebration of Christmas and Hanukkah, and prohibiting any censorship of these religious holidays" within state government.
"Under my administration, I will call things what they are … a Christmas tree and a Menorah, and will gladly allow both Christmas and Hanukkah to be celebrated at the State Capitol," Brewer writes. "I encourage my colleagues and fellow elected officials to do the same."
And that's just fine. No need now for an interpretation of constitutional church/state language. For it's Christmas, a time to celebrate birth and life and light and hope and love. Merry Christmas.