Christmas Wars: California seniors lose their tree

The management of a senior citizens’ apartment complex in Newhall, California has decided the annual Christmas tree has go to go, along with the menorahs, as reported by the Los Angeles Daily News:

On Tuesday, Tarzana-based JB Partners Group Inc. sent a memo to staff at The Willows senior apartment building demanding they take down Christmas trees and menorahs in communal areas.

The company has owned The Willows for four years, but this is the first time it’s given such a directive to staff.

On Wednesday, two dozen residents in the 75-resident complex gathered in the lobby to place a neon green sign that read: “Please Save Our Tree.”

“We’re all angry. We want that tree,” said Fern Scheel, who has lived at the complex for nearly two years. “Where’s our freedom? This is ridiculous.”

Religious freedom and militant atheism are fundamentally incompatible, which is kind of funny for a culture that supposedly worships “tolerance” as the supreme virtue.  So much for all those “COEXIST” bumper stickers, eh?  Nobody gets to “coexist” with the atheists.

Judging by the article, all of the residents at The Willows are pretty upset by the elimination of the Christmas tree, pointedly including Ms. Franches Schaeffer, who is Jewish.  “This tree is a symbol of reverence that we can all enjoy regardless of our religious beliefs,” she said, apparently forgetting that one particular religious belief calls for the aggressive elimination of all others, and does not enjoy any aspect of them in the slightest.  (Some readers might posit there are actually two that call for that, but to be frank, I haven’t heard of any anti-Christmas tree fatwas emananting from domestic sources.)

The L.A. Daily News writers couldn’t seem to nail down whether anyone actually filed a complaint against the Christmas tree.  That’s the thing about militant atheism these days: it can be thin and bloodless, rather than passionate.  It has permeated the culture deeply enough to run on cruise control, even when no one takes the wheel.

The newspaper also could not establish exactly which genius at the management company suddenly noticed, after four years of management and considerably more years of holiday custom, that Christmas trees are “religious symbols.”  None of the ornaments in the picture look like religious symbols.  (I must sheepishly admit that it may be necessary to look behind Iron Man, Statler and Waldorf, the Grinch, and the Klingon Bird of Prey to find religious symbols hanging on my Christmas tree.)

Resident Edna Johnson complained, “We could put out Easter baskets, have turkey for Thanksgiving but no tree for Christmas because it has Christ’s name in the beginning of Christmas.”  If that’s really the reason, I hope none of these fine senior citizens has a child or grandchild named “Christopher” or “Christina.”  Visits could become awkward once the management company gets wind of it.

The company could have saved everyone a lot of trouble by consulting with Governor Lincoln Chafee of Rhode Island, who told CNS News that “his administration calls the decorated evergreen tree erected in the Rhode Island State House in December a ‘holiday tree’ – rather than a ‘Christmas tree’ – because that is what the tree is traditionally called.”  Sure, that’s the tradition we all remember!  Doesn’t everyone love Yuletide hits like “Rockin’ Around the Holiday Tree” and “I’ll Be Home For the Generic Non-Sectarian Mandatory Vacation Day?”

Or could the residents of The Willows keep their beloved tree if they agreed to call it an “X-mas Tree?”  That would get Christ’s name out of it.  I’m pretty sure that’s what they call the holiday tree at Professor Charles Xavier’s School for Gifted Youngsters.

Willows resident Max Greenis, who is thinking about withholding his rent in protest, wondered how his grandhildren would take this development.  “I’ve got grandkids and they come here and now they’ll ask, `Grandpa, where’s the Christmas tree?’  Then I’ll have to explain that someone said we couldn’t have one.  What kind of message is that sending to the kids?”

That’s the point, sir.  This is all about programming certain messages into the kids.  Christmas occupies some incredibly valuable cultural real estate on the calendar… right next to the equally valuable space inside the heads of children.  That’s why they can’t see stage productions of “Merry Christmas Charlie Brown,” either.  It includes a very memorable monologue about how Christmas trees are not symbolic of the true meaning of the holiday.