Kathryn Lopez

Like many, I celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ, the son of God, my Savior this month. I know what it's about. My family knows what it's about. I want to get out of work early and set up a crche. And I sure as heck don't want to have a political debate about it.

Perhaps you're of the exact same mind. Or maybe, say, you're Jewish and Hanukah falls around the same time. They're certainly not the same thing exactly, but at heart there are some shared values. You don't mind hearing "Merry Christmas" because majority rules. And I might say "Happy Holidays" just in case, with no intention whatsoever to water down what Dec. 25 commemorates for me and my fellow Christians.

But every year now it seems we find ourselves at the ridiculous same place.

Thanksgiving passes and it's "War on Christmas" time - what an awful concept and a waste of time. But I can't blame the Fox News Channel's John Gibson for titling his book (2005, Sentinel) that. In it, he's not randomly accusing liberals of hateful bahumbuggery. He chronicles, as he puts it in the forward of his new paperback edition, "a school board member, a city manager, a university dean, and a school superintendent, who found themselves in circumstances that led them to ban or remove from public view otherwise perfectly legal secular symbols of Christmas -- Christmas trees, the word 'Christmas,' and even the colors red and green."

Yes, seriously, red and green -- great threats to the Establishment Clause if caught anywhere near a public school, right? Gibson writes of his experience over the last year: "Many parents contacted me and said the story of Plano, Texas, where the school board wouldn't allow the colors red and green for the plates and cups and napkins at the kids 'winter' party, was actually quite common. I heard about one school where the principal went to each schoolroom before Thanksgiving and put all red and green construction paper under lock and key until after New Years. It is silly and paranoid actions like that which make people certain the war is real and not a figment of their imagination."

Chicago is currently at the center of a nationwide controversy surrounding Christmas and a supposed war on the Christian holiday. The whole thing is infuriating -- in large part because, quite frankly, there are much more important things I'd rather be thinking about.


Kathryn Lopez

Kathryn Jean Lopez, editor of National Review Online, writes a weekly column of conservative political and social commentary for Newspaper Enterprise Association.