You'd Better not Shout ...
Tuesday, 3 December 2002
As an avowed Scroogist I doubt that anyone will be surprised that I disagree with Angela Shanahan's op-ed piece in the Oz. Angela joins Prime Minister John Howard et al in decrying the politically correct thought police who intend to deprive kiddies in about 50 Australian child-care centres and kindies of their natural birthright of a visit from Santa (or to be more precise, someone's dad dressed up in traditional Santa kit, including the obligatory pillow stuffed into the red trousers) and a nice singalong around the nativity scene (preferably hand built, with cotton wool sheep and lambs with blackened pipe-cleaners for legs - although these days pipe cleaners are probably hard to come by so maybe they have to make do with black plastic twist ties. It's another sad example of how social and technological progress has destroyed traditional crafts). According to Angela:
The message that Christmas-deprived children get is that they are allowed to have a party and sing songs, but they are not allowed to sing about the birth of the baby or the fun of celebrating it.
The idea of having a party and singing songs without the central message of the nativity does sound a little gloomy but kids are generally considered to be pretty resilient - at least when we're trying to calm our misgivings about the neighbour's fairly strict application of the biblical maxim "spare the rod and spoil the child" - so I'm fairly sure that most of them will get over the undeniable trauma of a Christmas party without the Christmas message. Australian adults have been coping with this for years.
While we're on this subject, I doubt that we'll get through the holiday season without at least one of those pious little suggestions that we might all temper our hoop-la over the annual shopping spree with a little though for the "less fortunate among us" for whom Santa's little helpers usually turn up dressed in Salvation Army uniforms. I sometimes suspect that there are a lot of people who believe that Christmas would be better if we left this seasonal tradition out. Especially this year, when:
we all have to contend with terrorism that is the absolute anathema of Australian values of inclusion, harmony and multiculturalism
Which no doubt makes it essential that we all get behind Christmas and show those nasty terrorists that nothing they can do is going to make us abandon our sacred tradition of offering sincere thanks to those senile distant rellies who have given us yet another year's supply of socks that stopped being big enough when we were twelve years old. After all, it's the thought that counts. Even if the thinking is being done by someone who has totally lost the plot.