Merry, merry, &c.


For many years, I’ve written about “Merry Christmas,” and the sensitivity to that phrase, not to say hostility to it. It has been all but rendered verboten. I wrote a piece on this subject ten years ago: “December’s C-Word” (that would be “Christmas”).

You know whom this semi-verbotenization is most insulting of? Non-Christians. Because the implication is they will get the heebie-jeebies if they hear the word “Christmas” — which is ridiculous (as well as insulting).

I was reminded of this last week when reading a column by Dennis Prager: “Mazel Tov, Christians!” I was further reminded when listening to the Christmas greeting of the Israeli prime minister:

We celebrate Christmas with you. We know the importance you attach to our common heritage, to the State of Israel, and to the City of Jerusalem, where so much of our common history was forged.

We have a great past, we have common values, we have the desire to seize a common future of security, prosperity, and peace. So, from the city of peace, Jerusalem, I extend the warmest Christmas greetings to all of you. Merry Christmas.

That’s what I’m talkin’ about. Merry Christmas to you, too, Dennis and Bibi. (Dennis, I know a bit. Netanyahu, I merely affect familiarity with.)

From the sublime to the — less so. I was reading an interview by the Daily Caller of Bill Press, the Democratic broadcaster. They asked him, “Who is your celebrity crush?” He said Kirsten Gillibrand, the junior senator from New York (Democrat, of course).

I remembered what Senator Harry Reid, the majority leader, said about her, at a fundraiser: “We in the Senate refer to Senator Gillibrand as the ‘hottest member.’”

Yowww. I have to wonder how Gillibrand feels about this: being the objet de désir of septuagenarian Democrats.

A news story out of Paris:

Horse riders and trainers are demonstrating against a plan to nearly triple the tax on riding schools in France.

Enthusiasts fear the higher tax will make lessons too expensive, and force many schools to close. And they worry it will further chip away at rural traditions already struggling in a stagnant economy.

I reflected for a moment on left-wing hostility to horse-riding. I thought of the derision Ann Romney faced when it was learned that she worked with horses. (Apparently, she does this as a way of coping with multiple sclerosis. At least, that’s one reason she does it, I believe.) I further thought of Tip O’Neill’s pronouncement on Ronald Reagan:

“The evil is in the White House at the present time. And that evil is a man who has no care and no concern for the working class of America and the future generations of America, and who likes to ride a horse. He’s cold. He’s mean. He’s got ice water for blood.”

Yes. And did he mention he likes to ride a horse?

The New York Times published an interesting obit of Kalashnikov, the gun guy. I would like to make two points on it. Consider this excerpt: “The weapon, he said, was designed to protect his motherland, not to be used by terrorists or thugs. ‘This is a weapon of defense,’ he said. ‘It is not a weapon for offense.’”

Needless to say, Mikhail Kalashnikov knew much more about guns than I ever will. But I have always thought of a gun as a neutral instrument: used for offense or defense. Used to attack a man or to defend oneself against him (by attacking him).

Next, Kalashnikov appears to have been a great admirer of Stalin: “I never knew him personally, and I regret this.”

There are a thousand things to say about Stalin — but let me quote an article by Daniel Hannan, which I read shortly after I read the Kalashnikov obit: “Josef Stalin . . . arrested virtually the entire Russian Orthodox priesthood — 130,000 men, of whom 95,000 were shot.”

Celebrating Christmas
Christians of many different denominations and traditions celebrated the most holy day in the Christian calendar on December 25. Here’s a look at the many faces of Christmas, 2013. Pictured, Cardinal Timothy Dolan prays during midnight Mass at St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York City.
Pope Francis delivered his first Urbi et Orbi (to the city and the world) blessing at St. Peter’s Basilica at the Vatican. By tradition, his speech focused on the topic of world peace.
Catholic faitiful filled St. Peter's Square to hear Pope Francis's Christmas address.
Said Pope Francis: “Prince of Peace, in every place turn hearts aside from violence and inspire them to lay down arms and undertake the path of dialogue.”
“True peace is not a balance of opposing forces. It is not a lovely facade which conceals conflicts and divisions. Peace calls for daily commitment.”
Pope Francis kisses a baby Jesus statue during the midnight Mass in Saint Peter's Basilica.
Worshippers attend a Christmas Mass at the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem.
Lighting candles at the Church of Nativity in Bethlehem.
Fouad Twal, the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem, carries a statuette of baby Jesus during Christmas midnight Mass at the Church of St. Catherine in Bethlehem.
The Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby delivers his Christmas Day sermon at Cantebury Cathedral in Canterbury, England.
Patriarch Bartholomew I leads a Christmas Mass at the Greek Orthodox patriarchal Cathedral of St. George in Istanbul, Turkey.
Offering a prayer during the midnight Mass at the Franciscan Monastery in Washington, D.C.
An Iraqi Orthodox Christian refugee sits at the Saint Afram Syrian Orthodox Church in Amman, Jordan.
Attending Christmas ceremonies at the Orthodox church of Malaia, Romania.
Catholic worshippers pray during Christmas mass at the Santo Nino church in Tacloban, Philippines.
Members of Saint Afram Syrian Orthodox church's choir pray during Christmas morning mass in Amman, Jordan.
Christmas Mass in Gauhati, India.
Celebrating Mass at All Saints in Peshawar, Pakistan.
Christmas Mass in Peshawar, Pakistan.
Nativity scene performance at the Catholic Church of Saints Simon and Helena in Minsk, Belarus
Lighting candles during services at the Alexander Nevsky Cathedral in Sofia, Bulgaria.
Children hold Christingles (“Christ Lights”) at a Christmas Eve ceremony in Hong Kong.
Christian worshippers attend a Christmas prayer in Surabaya, Indonesia.
Residents gather in San Francisco Square in La Paz, Bolivia.
Members of the Miners Brotherhood Joehstadt dressed in ceremonial garb attend an early morning Mass in Joehstadt, Germany.
U.S. soldiers attend a Christmas celebration at a base in Kabul, Afghanistan.
Catholic priests celebrate a special Mass for children displaced by violence in Bangui, Central African Republic.
Indonesian Javanese Christians children prepare for the Ngunduh Hujan rainwater ritual in Central Java, Indonesia.
Indonesian Catholic dancers perform traditional Balinese dance during celebrations at Hati Kudus Yesus Church in Palasari Village, Indonesia.
Lighting candles at St. Mary’s Church in Siliguri, India.
Outside a Catholic church in the the typhoon-devastated village of San Joaquin, Philippines.
Christmas morning in Dinan, France.
SANTA SEASON: Alongside the many religious ceremonies, Christmas remained in the air in the form of Santa Claus and other traditions. Pictured, a pint-sized Santa greets swimmers at Waikiki beach in Honolulu, Hawaii.
Santa Clauses greet children in front of the former Parliament building in Tbilisi, Georgia.
Handing out candy canes at the Shepherds of Good Hope in Ottawa, Canada.
Dancers perform at a shopping mall in Seoul, South Korea.
Dancers dressed as Ded Moroz (Grandfather Frost) — the name for Santa Claus in Russian, Belarus, and Ukraine — perform during a parade in Minsk, Russia.
Revelers celebrate Christmas Eve at Xinjiekou in Hanjing, China.
Men wearing Ded Moroz (Grandfather Frost) costumes join women dressed as Snegurochka (Snow Maiden) in a parade in Minsk, Russia.
Lebanese Christians celebrate in Jiyeh, Lebanon.
Swimming at Bondi Beach in Sydney, Australia.
Swimmers brave chilly water for the 104th Barcelona Traditional Christmas Swimming Cup in the Old Harbor of Barcelona, Spain.
Members of the Berline Seehunde (Berlin Seals) club swim in Lake Orankesee in Berlin, Germany.
Artificial snow falls on a Christmas tree at the Jumeirah Beach Resident in Dubai, United Arab Emirates.
Revelers celebrate a the Dama Rose Hotel in Damascus, Syria.
Hungry revelers wait to dig in to a 201-foot Christmas cake in Chandigarrh, India.
A U.S. soldier runs in the Christmas five-kilometer race at the U.S. Transit Center of Manas, Kyrgyzstan.
Major General James C. McConville, commander of NATO forces in eastern Afghanistan (at left), poses during a visit with soldiers at Camp Clark in Khost Province, Afghanistan.
U.S. troops sit with Santa in Kabul, Afghanistan.
A Batman balloon makes its way along a parade route in Acapulco, Mexico.
Santa waves to fishermen on Christmas Eve off the coast of Valparaiso, Chile.
Updated: Mar. 01, 2014