Wednesday, December 13, 2006

All I want for Christmas is a water buffalo

It seems to me that Christmas used to be about something more than shopping.

Long ago, I believe, it used to be a religious celebration – a time when people talked about love and redemption and forgiveness.

Now, it seems, Christmas is labeled an “American Holiday,” and licensed to malls and car dealers and department stores. We’re no longer celebrating the birth of a religious leader – we’re celebrating Shopping. Shopping is the true national holiday.

“Christmas” has become a driver of the national economy, and whether or not you believe in the “reason for the season” – if you’re an American, you feel that you must participate.

There are those who would even prefer to leave religion out of the holiday season. After all, why should religious beliefs hamper our ability to spend money?

Among those who seem to have a real vested interest in the Christmas/Shopping season, is, of course, Mr. Bill O’Reilly. In recent years, O’Reilly has taken it upon himself to lead a “War on Christmas” – because nothing’s more fun than invoking feelings of religious war during the season of joy.

O’Reilly makes it his business to call out companies that refrain from using the phrase “Merry Christmas” – and subtly encourages people not to shop at these locations. The scary thing here is not whether retailers use the phrase “Merry Christmas” – it’s that Bill O’Reilly can convince you not to shop somewhere just because they don’t say it.*

Thanks Bill, for really bringing a sense of compassion and togetherness back to a season that’s gotten to be too much about commercialization and the almighty Dollar.

Christmas, after all, is not about buying things. It’s about celebrating our ultimate redemption with people that we love. It’s about giving the deepest love that you know.

This is why personally, I plan to order my gifts from the Heifer Project catalog:

This is an organization that helps families in developing nations gain access to food and farming supplies. These are individuals who learn to lead sustainable, independent and productive lives through the gifts of farm animals such as pigs, cows, and yes, water buffalo.

Christmas is not about buying or not buying things at Costco. It’s not about wars on Christmas, or selling books about wars on Christmas. It’s about showing others kindness through giving.

This season, remember, nothing says love like water buffalo.

*This is a testament to O’Reilly’s brilliant ability to ludicrously twist facts and corroborate unrelated truths. It’s not that what he says is entirely false, it’s just that he often combines stories in a way that makes them untrue.
For instance, (from December 7th, 2005):

O’Reilly: “Our pal Harry Belafonte got his award from the AARP yesterday here in New York City, an impact award for Harry. Apparently at the ceremony, he said one reason he's pleased with the award is that it tees off Bill O'Reilly.
“Not so, Mr. Belafonte. I could not care less if the AARP thinks you're swell. My job is to inform the folks that, based on your own words, you don't think very much of your country and that the AARP apparently approves of that stance.”

Somehow O’Reilly takes the fact that Harry Belafonte received an award, combines it with an opinion that Belafonte doesn’t “think very much of” the United States, and thus says that, by association, the AARP doesn’t seem to care about the U.S.

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