Silly me. I thought we were going to get through the 2010 holiday season without a "War on Christmas" controversy.
A couple weeks ago, Jon Stewart and The Daily Show showed me how wrong I was. He picked up on a Fox News story about the annual Christmas Parade of Lights in Tulsa, Okla., changing its name to Holiday Parade of Lights to be more inclusive of people of different faiths.
The change was in 2009, but controversy had simmered during the past year, and protesters lobbied to have the Tulsa city council deny the organizers' parade permit. Organizers said anyone who wanted to use the word Christmas or religious imagery in their parade entry was welcome to do so. The city council voted 5-3 to approve the parade permit.
As "War on Christmas" controversies go, this was fairly mild. But Stewart's report was hilarious; it included a Rankin-Bass style cartoon about the "War on Christmas" and an illustration of Fox News commentator Gretchen Carlson as "The Gretch Who Saved the War on Christmas."
The point of the piece was that people who think there is a "War on Christmas" ignore the mountains of evidence that Christmas is very much alive and well. The berth that the religious holiday is given on most calendars is wider than that of any other holiday: We have a nearly two-month run-up to Dec. 25. Watch during the next week as almost all media that hasn't already turned all-Christmas all-the-time do. If you are drawing breath and in any way interacting with society right now, you know it's Christmas.
And in a multicultural society, which like it or not is what we are, we should have no trouble recognizing that not everyone embraces the Christian reason for the season and be OK with not feeling a need to use the word Christmas in every reference to it.
There is a way in which we ought to be thankful that non-Christians choose to join in the spirit of our celebration instead of begrudging us the time like a bunch of secular Scrooges.
Now, I am not saying that every argument against highlighting the Christian message for the season has merit or that there aren't people who need to stop getting in a huff every time someone mentions Jesus within earshot. There are secular zealots just as there are religious zealots.
But when Christians elect to spend the time of year when we celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ by going out and looking for a fight, we waste the opportunity to show what Christmas is all about: love.
In invoking the Grinch, Stewart's report used the perfect illustration of what is wrong with these "War on Christmas" controversies.
The Grinch did go to Whoville and try to take Christmas — the very secular, material manifestation of Christmas, with its lights, presents and dinners of roast beast.
And then he was shocked to find that he had not stopped anything. The Whos kept Christmas — however you would like to interpret that — in their hearts. Taking away the external expressions of the holiday did not take away their joy.
There are places in the world where people have to celebrate Christmas like the Whos that morning, with little more than smiles on their faces, because they have nothing else, or because their government will penalize them for expressing their faith.
And people here want to act as if they're being persecuted because the name of a parade was changed?
As we move through the holiday season, we'd do our Christian faith a service if we focused on celebrating the joy of a newborn child instead of looking for fights that open us up to being mocked so easily.