We are drawing to the close of yet another year and yet another holiday season, a time when we are all supposed to pause and give thanks for our blessings, gather with friends and family, and lavish each other with gifts that we probably do not need or want. And yes, I call it "the holiday season."
I call it that, not because I am some kind of politically correct liberal intent on destroying the "reason for the season." I call it that because that is what it is. Between Thanksgiving and New Year's Day, there are more reasons for more people worldwide to celebrate than almost any other five- or six-week period. These celebrations, in the northern hemisphere at least, come out of traditions relating to the end of the growing season and the coming winter and New Year. It is not a matter of being politically correct. It is a simple matter of historical truth.
Now, in any rational society this is just a simple fact of life, one of those truths that people grow up with and accept as easily as they accept that wearing a shirt and shoes in public is a good idea. Our great country, however, is often short on rational thought and is sometimes barely even sociable.
For decades now, the holiday season has brought us not the warmth and joy of a season filled with friends, family, and food but rather an incessant, loud, and utterly pointless "war" over what the season means and how to celebrate it. It's the time of year when we should be at our most gracious and thankful; instead we devolve into a collection of spoiled brats. Whether it's over atheists assaulting more or less harmless holiday displays on public property (always focusing for some reason on nativity scenes) or Christians falsely claiming that "Jesus is the reason," everyone seems to have a gripe about the holidays in America. And it is a pointless collection of nonsense.
What is lost on both sides is the simple fact that, for better or worse, we exist in a culture that celebrates the holiday season in a unique way. Instead of marginalizing any one group, the American holiday season is already a hodgepodge of secular, religious, and commercial idiocy. It is, as most everything in this country, uniquely our own. This is probably most apparent in our continued insistence on having "Christmas" parades that typically have almost nothing to do with Christmas.
Where else but America do we not only have parades that feature floats built by companies that seemingly exist only to build floats and where three out of every four floats are advertisements for a local business? I suppose that American Jesus died on the cross for the good of consumer capitalism.
Still, amid all the blatant shilling and scantily dressed dancers, Mt. Pleasant stood out this year for its parade and one float in particular: that would be the one featuring an ad for a local "adult" store.
Naturally, the owner of the float in question claimed innocence, apparently unaware that some people might have a problem with one form of consumerist assault on the holidays. The town, naturally, declared that they had not approved the banner on the float and, according to two Post and Courier stories, that the folks behind the float had not even disclosed the banner on their entry form. The people of Mt. Pleasant, naturally, were offended and cried out, "Won't someone please think of the children?" As though one form of advertisement is more hurtful to the Spirit of Christmas than another.
And, of course, because everyone with a Facebook or Twitter account needs to make their opinions known, the internet ran red with the comments in support of — or against — the offensive banner. As usual, most everyone missed the point.
It really is not important if one particular advertisement on a parade that supports one pseudo-religious holiday over another is offensive or not — or even that in the early 21st century, we still have civically promoted parades of a religious nature. The first important thing is that a business chose to claim — against all common sense — that it didn't know that a sign for a sex toy store was certain to upset some members of the community. The second important thing is that Mt. Pleasant's town administrator squarely placed the blame on the float owner for the non-disclosure of the banner on their parade entry form, although the entry form itself makes no mention of the town's need to OK any advertising. In other words, neither side is being entirely honest.
And this is the reason we cannot have nice things.