Category Archives: grinch

>REACT: Ronald McDonald stomps out Santa

>After publishing my blog item on Macy’s de-Christmas’ing the 2000 year old holiday (November 21, 2007), I went to checked out Chicago’s traditional State Street Christmas Parade held each Thanksgiving – you know, the one that welcomes the arrival of Santa Claus.

Well, the anti-Christ(mas) has struck again – this time in the form of another corporate behemoth, McDonald’s. Not sure when this all happened, but there is no Christmas parade any more. Ronald (the Grinch) McDonald booted the Christmas theme, and the event is now known as the McDonald’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. Forget about Christ. Ronald has knocked off even the secularized Santa image in favor of a logo featuring a trite and tacky turkey in a pilgrim high hat.

(As an aside: In the above logo, doesn’t that look like the front end of an old Pilgrim-style blunderbust rifle pointing at the turkey from behind the leafy bush? I am sure that is not the intent, but still a fitting bit of symbolism, don’t ya think?)

If you were hoping that perhaps the real Christmas parade was rescheduled for another time, you’re out of luck. The only other parade is the Michigan Avenue merchants Parade of Lights produced by Walt Disney. No celebration of Christmas. An obligatory Santa, but certainly nothing to symbolize the real meaning of the holiday.

Corporate America, in a fit of greedy political correctness has changed the “love thy neighbor” holiday message to “love thy neighbor’s money.”

On the other, maybe the Christians got just what we deserved. I mean, most of our religious holidays were superimposed over Pagan celebrations in an effort, successful to be sure, to drive the godless holidays into extinction. It would seem that the neo-Pagans of corporate America are providing pay-back time. They are driving Christians from the public forums in favor or superficial Disney cartoons, holiday trees symbolic of nothing, and irrlevant festivals of lights. Sure, it is all very pretty, but prettiness does not connote significance or relevancy. (Did the name Paris Hilton just pop into your mind, too?)

Kicking Christ out of his name sake holiday is nothing new. The transformation from the elderly St. Nicholas of European origin to the cartoonish pot-bellied, retail-hawking Santa Claus happened more than three generations ago. The “Xmas” abbreviation was the rage at mid-20th Century. The supporting roles once held by shepards were given to a bunch of elves. The drab animals of the manger faded in the face of the bright-eyed and bright-nosed reindeer know as Rudolph – the creation of the advertising department or the now defunct Montgomery Ward & Company.

It would seem that the austere message of Christ is not in keeping with the sales strategies of the big retailers. The maniacally generous iconic characters, such as Santa Claus, make for better sales. Can you image for one moment bringing your child, with a long selfish wish list, to Macy’s to sit on the lap of a actor dressed as Jesus?

The very modern-day buying orgy is an anathema to the biblical Christ. To celebrate this holiday in keeping with its theological origins would require feeding the hungry as opposed to gorging the gluttonous. Clothing the naked, not donning designer duds. Comforting the ill, not imbibing until we are. We are admonished to care for those less fortunate, not over indulge the already blessed.

When you look at it that way, I guess dumping Christ and Christmas makes sense. What has evolved is NOT Jesus’ holiday. It is the celebration of the new religion, Consumerism. Maybe … just maybe … the secular iconology is not driving out the Christmas of Christ. Maybe it is just filling in the vacuum we have selfishly provided. Maybe the Grinch is not the politically correct, but the theologically challenged. Maybe it is not “they” who stole Christmas, but “we” who too willingly abandoned it.

Something to ponder as we good Christians begin our annual pilgramage to Wal Mart. At least they still know it is Christmas.

>REACT: Macy’s Christmas. Bah humbug!!

>I sent the following as a letter-to-the-editor to a number of major publications. Generally, at least one will publish my epistle. As I prepared this for delivery, the shadow or pessimism crossed my mind. Would, I wonder, any major newspaper publish a letter-to-the-editor so critical of a major advertiser? The answer is … “nope.” I got two calls to confirm that I was author – a practice that most often leads to publication. For a moment, there was hope. But alas, my condemnation of Macy’s was rejected even as the department store ads grew larger and more frequent on the eve of the busiest shopping day of the year.

So, for whatever it is worth. Here is my unpublished opinion.

To: The Editor

Christmas at Macy’s, bah humbug!

On November 10, the Big Apple department store, Macy’s (nee Marshall Field & Company), again insulted Chicagoans and Christians.

In celebration of one of Christianity’s holiest seasons, Macy’s invited convicted felon Martha Stewart to preside at the official tree lighting ceremony – and hawk her designer ornaments. Full-page newspaper ads invited all of us to participate in this event by dropping by and (they hope) giving them some of our hard earned money to send back to New York.

For most of my life, the lighting of the “great Christmas tree” in the Walnut room was one of the highlights of the Christmas season. If you missed the lighting, you could always drop in at the Walnut Room at any time during the Christmas holidays.

But wait! Something is missing. Oh yeah! Christmas. Nowhere in the full-page ad did the word Christmas appear. No Christmas tree. Just a tree. No Christmas ornaments. Just Martha Stewart ornaments. Turns out that the Grinch who stole Christmas is none other than Macy’s.

The ad was devoid of any references to or images of Christmas – the official name of this national holiday. No stars. No angels. No nativity scene. No candles. No cross. No Santa Claus (nee St. Nicholas). The ad featured only bells, birds and bright shiny bulbs of one shape or another.

I am not a religious zealot. In fact, I would have to improve considerably to attain the level of a poor Christian. But why, in the name of tolerance, do we have to pretend something is not what it is. This is the Christmas season, and most of us Christians will be putting up a Christmas tree, decorated with Chirtmas ornaments — and singing Christmas caroles. We will greet others with “Merry Christmas” – whether the friend is Christian or not, because we are wishing them goodwill not engaging in religious rivalry.

Macy’s has taken the warm and loving feeling of Christmas and turned it into a Martha Stewart make-over. It is much too cold, too sterile, too commercial, too New York. When I was a child, traditionalists fought against the “xmas’ abbreviation with the slogan, “put Christ back into Christmas.” Well the East Coast heathens of commerce have gone one better. They have driven everything Christmas out of Christmas. Not even a teensy weensy bit of religious imagery.

If I was not already boycotting Macy’s for dumping the Marshall Field name, I would certainly have to boycott them for this latest effrontery.

Larry Horist

P.S. The Macy’s windows will feature the Nutcracker this year. Somewhat traditional, but safely on the secular side.