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Holiday: Children need their Christmas
Laziness, selfishness, shortsidedness and greed have all but destroyed the culture of childhood. Television, our favorite babysitter, has become a purveyor of the obscene, grubbing in the gutters of America for the attention of the lowest common denominator in our society. Violent video games teach fear and contempt for human life. In our haste to be politically sensitive to any group, no matter how perverse or peripheral, we have forgotten that the culture of childhood needs to be embraced and protected.
While we seem indifferent that the innocence of our children is being flayed from them by people with financial or personal interests, we are also allowing others to deny our children the open celebration of Christmas.
Christmas is a significant ritual in the culture of childhood in America. It is a season when childrens expectations are magical, filled with wonder. It is a time when they may observe that all adults are not the sex-obsessed, self-centered people they see on television. Christmas is an experience from which children learn the values of kindness and selflessness and generosity by observing these value put into practice. For no reason other than love of children, a stranger named Santa Claus brings gifts. For no other reason other than kindly compassion, adults donate time and money to feed the poor.
Christmas is an interlude of rare beauty when trees glow and people sing carols in the darkness and boxes containing unimaginable treasures lie on living room floors. It is a time when children in school share this sense of wonder and delight, maybe learning to be kinder to each other. Children of other faiths are welcome to observe and perhaps participate as one would hope children celebrating Christmas might be welcome to observe and perhaps participate in the important rituals of others.
How ridiculous to be offended by beloved rituals of custom and faith! How can a reasonable person be offended by a Christmas tree, or a visit to a classroom by Santa Claus, or the singing of carols in front of city hall?
Adults have a responsibility to ensure children are not forbidden Christmas; that no one is allowed to undermine the experience of such a beautiful, benevolent holiday. In our headlong rush to be inclusive of everyone, we should not permit the exclusion of what has always been of significance in our culture.
Children are not short adults. Their sense of the mystery and magic of life is essential to their development into people of hope and faith who do not need to turn into reality shows on television to know what it is like to be genuinely, passionately alive.
In my troubled childhood home, Christmas was a season I looked forward to all year. It was when I felt most loved and always rediscovered the importance of loving. My heart aches for children today who are being cheated, not only of their innocence, but also of this simple and profound message that Christmas brings.