WASHINGTON -- It's the "the holiday season" -- the politically correct euphemism for this time of year, when we're supposed to demonstrate the "spirit of the season" by going shopping. We do this so that we can help retailers hit their year-end sales targets. Shopping, we are told, stimulates the economy, and what's good for the economy is good for all of us.
Our "holidays" have become mere orgies of economic stimulus. Need a new mattress? Presidents Day weekend is now known for slumber sales. That barbecue with 50 percent more grilling area that you want? Hold off until Memorial Day, when the Lawn & Garden Retailer advertisements turn attention from patriotism to propane. Independence Day -- once dedicated to national reflection on the struggle our Founders faced in creating a nation conceived in liberty -- is now just an opportunity to buy beer and hot dogs.
Our national day of Thanksgiving has become the official kickoff for a year-end buying spree, which is supposed to continue through Christmas, er, excuse me, "the holidays." According to the mainstream media, this year we consumers dropped the ball.
If we believe news reports and polls, the "spirit of the holidays" has been "dampened" by the economic downturn, a jump in unemployment to 6.7 percent, a steep drop in home sales and rising foreclosures. We're told that "consumer confidence continues to decline" and that pay increases are slim or nonexistent -- except in Congress, where a pay raise for the members is generous and automatic.
Perhaps it is time for us to concentrate on something other than the economy and examine the true meaning of "the holidays" -- Christmas. Last week, Pope Benedict XVI encouraged us "to focus on the spiritual meaning of Christmas and to welcome into our hearts the hope brought by God's coming among us as man."
Interestingly enough, those were the very ideals that motivated our nation's Founders. Whether today's politically correct crowd wants to acknowledge it or not, those who forged this nation out of a wilderness were overtly Christian -- and so full of hope that they were willing to risk all to create a completely new form of government. In less than a month, we will again witness the results of what America's Founders created -- the peaceful transition of political authority in our capital.
Oliver North is a nationally syndicated columnist, the host of War Stories on the Fox News Channel, the author of the new novel Heroes Proved and the co-founder of Freedom Alliance, an organization that provides college scholarships to the children of U.S. military personnel killed or permanently disabled in the line of duty. Join Oliver North in Israel by going to www.olivernorthisrael.com.