Charlotte Hays

Drop Hawaii, the President ought to stay home, wear pajamas, drink hot chocolate, and praise American’s generosity.

Hand wringing about commercialism at Christmas is one of my pet peeves. Each year I, like many Americans, hear clergy abusing us from the pulpit for our supposed Yuletide materialism. I always chalk this up to the speaker’s not having enough to say about the babe in the manger. But I do expect more than a cliché about commercialism on Christmas Eve night.

I am for commercialism. The things we buy this time of year, after all, are mostly for other people. Love and appreciation, not envy and greed, are the motivations for most of our Christmas shopping.

The strong desire to give to others, whether just eggnog with an elderly neighbor, a new tie for a father, or a check for the Salvation Army, is what makes the United States the most charitable nation in the world.

Buying things for each other is not the same as wretched excess. But I am afraid that this year is our fifth year in a row of witnessing the unappealing spectacle of wretched excess from a family upon whom the fates have smiled, a family that should set an example. But they set the wrong example.

Keith Koffler, purveyor of the wickedly funny White House Dossier blog, sums up this American family's sense of entitlement this way:

“Michelle Obama recently revealed that she and President Obama don’t give Christmas gifts to each other. They merely say, “We’re in Hawaii,” and that’s Christmas gift enough.

“But actually the present is from taxpayers, and it’s an expensive one.”

If the Obamas couldn’t be persuaded to take more economical vacations when the economy was even worse off than it is now, I don’t see much hope of their going lighter on us taxpayers now that things are getting (marginally) better.

For those of us who are less la de da about financial matters, however, the outlay is staggering: Air Force One costs about $180,000 an hour of to fly, making the tab for the American taxpayer around $3.24 million just to get the first family to and from aloha land. I would urge Senator Tom Coburn to consider putting at least a portion of the first family’s holiday costs in next year’s Wastebook, his annual compendium of federal money spent on unnecessary and/or bizarre projects.

Charlotte Hays

Director of Cultural Programs at the Independent Women's Forum.