War on Christmas? What war on Christmas?

The 'war on Christmas' seems to feature annual skirmishes over greetings and holiday displays. This year it flared up briefly when lawmakers complained of being made to work through Dec. 25.

Molly Riley/Reuters
The U.S. Capitol Christmas tree is seen in front of the building in Washington. Some lawmakers complained about having to work during the holiday period.

It’s that time of year when “Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus” gets reprinted around the country.

“Not believe in Santa Claus!” the New York Sun exclaimed in answer to young Virginia O’Hanlon’s question back in 1897. “You might as well not believe in fairies!”

Fine. You can’t have too many sugar plums.

IN PICTURES: Christmas lights

But we won’t do that here. Being of a more Scrooge-like nature (before old Ebenezer went through that dream-induced conversion and bought out the London shops for Tiny Tim), and because the Vote Blog focuses on politics, we opt instead for a more modern subject.

The War on Christmas!

Yes, as surely as dry leaves before the wild hurricane fly and tiny reindeer hooves clatter on moonlit winter rooftops, you can count on someone, somewhere to declare that godless heathens have – once again – declared war on Christmas.

This year is no exception.

In Washington, it began when Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid told his colleagues they might have to work through the Christmas break to get the nation’s work done. Things like taxes and arms control, immigration and gay rights in the military – tough stuff that many lawmakers wanted to kick over into the new year when, not incidentally, Republicans would take over the House and increase their numbers in the Senate.

Talk about a lump of coal in senatorial stockings! You could see the sputtering spray of egg nog all over Capitol Hill.

“It is impossible to do all of the things that the majority leader laid out without disrespecting the institution and without disrespecting one of the two holiest of holidays for Christians,” complained Sen. Jon Kyl of Arizona, the second-ranking Republican in the Senate.

His senatorial sidekick Jim DeMint (R) of South Carolina felt the need to weigh in as well.

Sacrilegious! Disrespectful!

“It’s sacrilegious and disrespectful," he told Politico.com. "What's going on here is just wrong. This is the most sacred holiday for Christians."

Reid got all humbug over such comments.

“As a Christian, no one has to remind me of the importance of Christmas for all of the Christian faith, all their families across America,” Reid said. “I don’t need to hear the sanctimonious lectures of Senators Kyl and DeMint to remind me of what Christmas means.”

(Let us pause here to note that the Senate did in fact get through taxes, the immigration DREAM Act, and “don’t ask, don’t tell” a week before Christmas, and it overcame a significant hurdle on the way to approving the START nuclear weapons treaty.)

Neither Kyl nor DeMint, you’ll notice, actually uttered the phrase “War on Christmas.” No, that was left to their party’s cheerleading section over at the Fox News Channel.

Asked Fox & Friends co-host Steve Doocy, “Are Democrats waging their own War on Christmas to make sure Santa delivers everything on their wish list?”

“Is Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid a Grinch?” asked America Live Fox host Megyn Kelly. “Is he trying to Scrooge his colleagues with plans to keep the Senate in session until Christmas Eve and then call everyone back before New Year's?”

'Harry Reid tried to steal Christmas.'

Fox contributor Karl Rove called Reid “the guy who tried to steal Christmas.”

If the whole business has a sacred text, it’s probably Fox News radio host John Gibson’s 2005 book “The War on Christmas: How the Liberal Plot to Ban the Sacred Christian Holiday Is Worse Than You Thought.” (The hardcover is now available new on Amazon for as little as 53 cents.)

But while the issue may have faded for most people, skirmishes continue.

Featured on Fox was Marsha Boggs in Annapolis, Md. Inspired by Glenn Beck and the war on Christmas, she’s marketing a “CHRIST-mas Tree” featuring a lighted cross in the middle of an artificial tree. For $399.99 they’re available in red-white-and-blue as well as the traditional green.

“This is about rescuing our rights as Christians in America and salvaging and enhancing our Christian holiday,” explains Boggs, who admits that she doesn't attend church very regularly herself.

Dallas pastor Robert Jeffress has a “Grinch Alert” web site listing businesses and organizations that are “naughty” or “nice,” depending on whether they use “misplaced political correctness to halt the celebration of Christmas” or “keep Christ in Christmas where He belongs.”

It’s the updated debate over “Merry Christmas” versus “Happy Holidays,” one presumes.

So just to cover all bases, we’ll wish you – not only “Happy Holidays,” “Happy Hanukkah,” and “Happy Kwanzaa” – but a very Merry Christmas.

IN PICTURES: Christmas lights

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