Sunday, December 10, 2006

Lawsuit Threat Trims The Tree

Several weeks ago, I read an article in the New York Times describing how many larger companies were once again ready to use the word "Christmas" as part of their holiday vocabulary. Quite the switch from the politically correct approach of years past when it seemed folks went out of their way to avoid the use of the word Christmas at all in a business or marketing related context.


This change seems to follow the change in Washington DC itself when just last year the political machine inside the Beltway reversed gears and decided they should once again call the "seasonal tree" on the US Capitol grounds the "National Christmas Tree" instead of the "Holiday Tree" as they did beginning sometime in the 1990's.


These two twists happening within a year of one another might even be viewed as straight forward example of government leadership. (Hah!) And since hope springs eternal in this optimist, I personally heard the words, "Yes Virginia, there really is a Santa Claus" echoing throughout the room as I read the Times' article.


However, my hope was dashed and those kind words wiped away when this morning's (December 9th) Seattle Times had a front page article that began with the headline "Airport puts away trees rather than risk being "exclusive" and an opening paragraph that read "As odd as it might seem, Officials were hoping to avoid controversy when they dismantled nine holiday trees." It seems that a Rabbi requested that Seattle SeaTac Airport officials place an 8-foot-tall menorah next to the tallest Christmas tree to avoid "excluding" those of the Jewish faith from enjoying the holiday spirit. The trouble came when his request was supposedly backed by the threat of a law suit if SeaTac didn't comply.


Rather than deal with the threat of such a law suit or the issue of putting up a menorah (or other symbols of differing holiday reminders) SeaTac did the "efficient" thing and ordered the Christmas trees removed so they could worry more about the pressing business of running an airport than which decorations would satisfy all the potential law-suit threatening folks that might wander through that airport.


As schedules would have it, I flew out of SeaTac later today (same day as the article) and I learned first hand that they really did remove all of the big Christmas trees that previously decorated the terminal for the season. Ironically, the destination for my flight was Narita Airport in Tokyo Japan. What's the first thing I spied as I stepped into the club at Narita's Airport? Yes, a huge and beautifully decked out Christmas Tree for all to see. So, perhaps there is still a Santa Claus afterall. One merely needs to go to Japan to see the trappings of the hoiday!


Merry Christmas or no, I mean Happy Hanukkah or no, I mean Happy Kwanzaa … ahhh, shoot, HAPPY HOLIDAYS! Ho, ho, ho.