The celebration of Christmas, of course, celebrates the birth of Christ. The holiday and season are based on religion, reflecting the Judeo-Christian, or at least Christian, heritage of Western Civilization.
Recent decades have witnessed the secularization of Christmas, such that the comedian Stan Freeberg sang 4 decades ago: “I’m dreaming of a Green Christmas.” Thus, only 30 shopping days till Christmas, preceded by Black Friday.
Shopping not excepted, Christmas still remains a highly religious celebration to most Americans, overlapping with Chanukah.
We thank God for the birth of Jesus, pray for peace and love, and also remember those less fortunate than ourselves. Thus, we give of ourselves to others. We give because of religious beliefs and our moral code. We give because we will.
Yes, we can call it charity, donations, philanthropy, munificence, or eleemosynary, but not everything shows up as a charitable contribution to a 501C(3) on our tax returns. We give because it is who we are.
We give in large ways and small. We give to people and institutions. We give to adults and children. We give locally and globally. We donate to causes and even to the unknown. When we throw coins into a Salvation Army pot or toys into a Marines Toys for Tots box, we know they will reach the deserving.
And on occasion a Grinch throws lumps of black coal into the majesty and beauty of Christmas.
The Orange County Superior Court House has placed a tree in the lobby for about two decades. The tree has tags hanging from it. Each tag has the name of a specific child for whom a donation is sought. 374 presents were donated last year for Operation Santa Claus.
A Grinch, a member of the public, saw the 6’ artificial tree the other day and complained. Someone, a thoughtless bureaucrat, in a position of authority, but lacking common sense and wisdom, inexplicably removed the tree on Monday.
We can debate the meaning of the First Amendment, but a Christmas tree is not a religious symbol, and the tree in the courthouse does not display religious ornaments. It is a symbol of peace and beauty and our humanity to our fellow man.
In lieu of the tree, a barren table was placed in the lobby. It is no substitute, but symbolic.
The court employees have circulated a petition, protesting the removal. The petition eloquently expresses the heart and soul of America:
“That tree holds the cards that contain the wishes and needs of those less fortunate
than we are and shame on those who want to take that away from those of us who
wish to give. Now at the court’s darkest hour, our symbol of hope has been taken
away from us.”