- The Washington Times - Monday, December 25, 2000

We're depriving our children in the name of multiculturalism. Teachers are told to ignore Christmas, Hannukah and even Ramadan. Gone is the tree, the menorah, and any discussion of Muslim fasting.
Snowflakes are OK for holiday decorations, though lots of children never see one. Stars can twinkle but not with six points, and never in yellow because that's too Jewish. Gingerbread men make the cut even though they're sexist (at least they're neutered) and may excite the appetites of those celebrating Ramadan, which requires 30 days of fasting from dawn to sunset.
We've come full circle. Multiculturalism was meant to teach everybody about everybody else. Instead we exile custom, tradition and the whole kit and caboodle (with apologies to the Dutch for exploiting their "boedle.")
The rationale for this new attitude is, of course, political correctness. We've dumbed-down history and literature so why not throw out religion? We must not educate lest someone celebrate. In striving not to give offense we've all become Scrooge.
The new sensibility is captured by the TV commercial for milk, depicting Santa Claus finding a fireside brownie without the glass of milk to wash it down. He's not going to take such thoughtlessness standing up, so he grabs the Christmas tree and disappears up the chimney with it, whisking away the Yule spirit as if a movie running in reverse. Bah humbug to you, too.
We have to use what's left of imagination to figure out how Santa travels in our new century since animal rights activists won't let reindeer pull overweight sleighs and environmentalists will sue if he tries to motorize. His home and workshop in the North Pole is melting, anyway. Serves him right for being oblivious to global warming.
Santa should spend his time on a treadmill or a Stairmaster instead of flying over rooftops encouraging careless children to leave brownies without milk. He's a poor role model for couch-potato tots. It's a wonder he can slide down any chimney.
This year's tinsel spirit of giving to others as you would have others give unto you is probably best symbolized by on-line shoppers who order presents with a click of the mouse. Who said not a creature was stirring? Internet players can become Internet pray-ers and join a chat room for sermons. "Hark the virtual angels sing."
Feminists are reinventing Hannukah, too. The Maccabees had no women in their combat units, so Judith, who actually lived centuries earlier, has been brought back by not-so-popular demand to honor on the eighth day of the Hannukah candles. According to the Apocrypha, Judith beheaded Nebuchadnezzar's commander-in-chief, an Assyrian who was on a campaign to conquer Judea. It's a long and complicated story in which Judith upstages Delilah in the pantheon of seductresses. Judith is braver than the men in her town, who are about to surrender. She slips into something comfortable and seduces the enemy general into staying alone with her, and when he drinks himself into a drunken stupor, relieves him of his head. Such courage honors all Jewish women and many celebrate her by refusing to do any kind of work as long the Hannukah candles are burning. (I'll buy that.)
We pay a price for all these changes. One of the most delightful memories in my childhood is from the third grade when, for the Christmas pageant, I volunteered to be one of the three kings visiting the baby Jesus. I carried my jewelry box, lined in tufted red satin overflowing with silver charm bracelets, faux pearls, a pretend opal pendant and a tiny artificial emerald ring. It pleased my classmates that I was Jewish because they had learned that Jesus was, too. They liked the overflowing jewelry box as well.
A teacher today would cancel the pageant and hire a lawyer. So I'll play it safe, too. Whether you're Christian, Jew or Muslim, reverent or irreverent, observant or celebrant, take this heartfelt wish for a very happy … whatever.

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