Marvin's Window

Yes, Virginia, some stores need to learn a Christmas lesson

I watched the night sky from my window as Santa made his flight into local stores to open the shopping season and on national television in Macy's parade down the New York City streets.

I really expected someone from the ACLU to shoot Santa and his eight tiny reindeer from the sky with a shoulder-fired lawsuit.

The Christmas season is becoming more and more of a battlefield as the ACLU leads the attacks on Santa, Christmas trees, a school taking a Christmas break and Christmas displays on public property.

Last Christmas, an eastern city banned Santa from the city celebration to open the "holiday" shopping season. The elected officials wanted to be "tolerant" and not offend anyone by using a Santa that could be called a religious symbol. A group of local "Santas" from department stores and other places put on their suits and gathered across the street in protest.

I am pleased Kingman has not yet seen any of that nonsense. Several national companies have made announcements restricting employees from wishing customers a Merry Christmas and/or avoiding using Christmas in their advertising. "Holidays" is more politically correct, they think.

Federated Department Stores did that last Christmas and saw their sales dip. They learned a lesson others still need to learn.

Polls indicate 92 percent of Americans participate in Christmas and that 85 percent of the population identify themselves as Christians. Certainly a large majority of shoppers know why there is a Christmas season and know what it celebrates.

Coca-Cola has placed a likeness of Santa on seasonal cans for more than 70 years. The reports are that only polar bears will grace the cans this Christmas. Special glasses on sale in some local eateries call this a holiday, not Christmas. The company says Santa will return in 2006 to celebrate 75 years on the Santa cans.

I will wait until 2006 to consider buying the glasses and a drink.

News reports say Kohl's, Sears, Target and Costco will not have customers greeted with a "Merry Christmas." Wal-Mart has given mixed signals about which greeting will be OK. These companies have indicated advertising for the season will omit or limit Christmas. 'Tis the winter holiday season without a reason for celebration.

Hopefully, all these companies will have the same experience that caused Federated Department Stores to get the "message" last year.

Is it good business to risk the anger of 85 percent of your customers during the shopping season that brings in as much as 40 percent of the annual sales?

It is time for those who know why Christmas is celebrated and whose birthday it is to insist that tolerance means respect for the Christian population too. Maybe Christmas cards with religious symbols should be sold only in Christian stores.

Many Americans are confused about what can and cannot be done publicly at Christmas. The ACLU has used legal intimidation, misinformation and fear to confuse people and win the fight without firing a shot in some communities. After years of the ACLU attacking Christmas traditions, the Supreme Court has ruled in favor of our traditions.

• It is legal to sing Christmas carols in public schools and at public events.

• It is OK for schools to call Christmas "Christmas" and put "Christmas Break" on the school calendar.

• School districts cannot ban individuals (students, teachers or parents) from exchanging Merry Christmas greetings.

• Schools may teach about the Christian origins of Christmas.

• Schools may display religious symbols, including a nativity scene, as part of a holiday display.

• Cities may sponsor nativity scenes and other religious displays in public parks and on public land without violating the Constitution. Lawyers call it the "three reindeer" rule.

Supreme Court decisions have approved these specific cases in suits brought by or supported by the ACLU. The group still tries to use fear and intimidation to gain their ends. You can check this out and get more information on the Web at www.AllianceDefenseFund.org.

More information has been compiled by John Gibson in his book "War on Christmas."

A holiday that generates 40 percent of annual sales for many a business may be too commercial. However, the companies that prosper from that shopping should tolerate the 85 percent of us who know the true meaning. The governments should be thankful for the sales tax revenue.

The result could be chasing Christians to a less commercial holiday and result in killing the golden goose.

I yearn for the days when I could enjoy the movie "The Miracle on 34th Street" and relish the reality of Santa. The original film depicts the trouble Macy's had when they cast doubt on a Santa who sent customers to other stores. I watch that movie every Christmas to renew my faith and regain my youth. I also like to read the famous newspaper editorial "Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus.

We should never relax and allow groups like the ACLU to succeed where the Grinch failed. No one should be allowed to steal Christmas and the message of goodwill that comes with the season.

Marvin Robertson writes a weekly column for the Miner.