Tuesday, December 21, 2004
"Christmas ain't what it used to be in Bigot Bend," says John C. Calhoun Clay, one of the exhausted foot soldiers defending America from the War on Christmas. "Used to be, every single store on Confederacy Street was covered with angels and bells and holly. Now look at it!" he snorts.
I look down the street and see at least 10 Santas, 20 Christmas trees, and dozens of store windows painted with snow, elves and reindeer. But there is one glaring anomaly: "Solomon's Deli" displays only a simple white and blue "Happy Holidays" on the door.
"We have to take Christmas back," says Clay grimly.
Forty of the faithful, fearful of the social progressive forces that hate Christmas, have gathered by the nativity scene to defend this beloved holiday. These humble foot soldiers are frightened that, in a nation that is only 82 percent Christian, the secular humanists and pagans will try to place the symbols of Satan - such as the Star of David or the menorah - next to the nativity.
"Next thing, they'll be trying to make us worship Quizmo!" says one shivering Baptist. I suggest that she probably means Kwaanza, and she faints after having a hysterical fit and speaking in tongues.
Passersby wave and then taunt the Christian army by wishing them, "Happy Holidays!"
Clay winces and asks, "Why do they hate us so?"
Preston Jefferson Davis Lee Jackson, a 15-year-old Evangelical with a crewcut and a red tie, strides up with a message from the general. Jackson has been acting as a courier for the impromptu military organization that has developed around the defense of the Bigot Bend nativity scene.
After I read the message and prepare to meet the general, I nod my agreement at the young courier and try to hide the sadness in my face. Even if he survives this horrible war, he will never be the same. He has seen too much for his tender years. He knows that somewhere in New Jersey, a single parent objected to the inclusion of "Silent Night" in a school Christmas program. And even though the program went on with "Silent Night" intact, this boy can never forgive the liberal media for their role in this and other hate crimes against Christianity.
Jackson's mother tells me he has nighmares. He wakes up screaming. "Those little kids in New Jersey almost didn't get to hear 'Silent Night!'"
War is Hell.
I am ushered into the presence of Gen. Bill O'Reilly, the C-I-C (Commander in Christ) of this mission. This brave commentator has taken a leave from "The O'Reilly Factor" to be the "Defender of Christmas," as the simple Christian folk of Bigot Bend call him. O'Reilly is willing to take any risk (in the United States anyway, if not in Iraq) to protect Christian civilization.
O'Reilly has established his headquarters in the manger he and his army are protecting. His practice of sitting on the plastic Baby Jesus often engenders more than a little nervousness among the faithful. He also has a bad habit of fondling the plastic breasts of the Virgin Mary, but since this seems to keep him away from their daughters, the faithful tolerate this largely harmless behaviour.
As I enter, an aide is reading a list as Gen. O'Reilly stands sadly and shakes his head with great regret.
" ... four calling birds, three freedom hens, two turtle doves, and a partridge in a pear tree," says the aide.
"I almost can't stand listening to the casualty lists," O'Reilly says. "There are just so many. Fortunately I have a rubber stamp for my signature, so it doesn't take that long for my aide to sign the death notices."
"It's a bad situation," O'Reilly grimly admits. "They come at us with EVERYTHING! And all we have to defend ourselves is falafel and Gideon Bibles!"
"What do you mean by EVERYTHING!" I ask, using all caps.
This question angers the general. "Shut up! Shut up! I bet you're one of those America-hating terrorist lovers that thinks I say 'Shut up!' a lot! Shut off his mike! I wish Jesus was here! He'd shut off your mike and cure my syphilis!"
Suddenly, good news arrives! Wal-Mart is donating several million copies of a book they couldn't sell. The Christian Army will be able to use them to build a barricade around the nativity scene, to protect themselves from the onslaught they know is coming.
"Hey, look, general!" shouts one soldier from the top of the pile after the books have been dropped off. "Your picture is on these books!"
And it's true. Wal-Mart has provided more than a million copies of "The O'Reilly Factor for Kids" for the protection of the Christian Army. O'Reilly is on the verge of a fit until his aide takes him into headquarters to fondle the Virgin Mary until he calms down.
Hours later, we hear movement in the darkness. It's time! The attack will start soon. We see the figures in the darkness and they come closer and closer ...
But then they start singing! They are singing "O Holy Night," a carol I have never much liked, but it lifts my spirits anyway. It's not the liberals and pagans marching to destroy Christmas ... it's more Christians, coming to show their support by singing carols! We welcome them into our Army of Self-Righteousness and brief them on the nature of the horrible culture war that is about to ensue.
As millions of fundamentalist Christians hunker down to fight an imaginary war created by the conservative media to further divide the country, remember that there are tens of millions of Americans, Christian Americans, including many who voted for John Kerry, who are celebrating comfortably in their homes with their families.
And also remember that there are over a hundred thousand American soldiers celebrating the holidays in Iraq or Afghanistan. The next time you hear about the "War on Christmas," think about those American soldiers and what they would say about self-righteous stateside political commentators fabricating a "war" on Christmas for their own political advantage.