Sharing the holiday season

I've been reviewing my last column about Christmas. I wanted to see whether I sounded like a fundamentalist - which I am not - and I wanted to verify whether I had said what I wanted to say - which I feel I did not.

It so happened that I was downtown a few days after I wrote that column, watching the activity around the carousel, admiring all the lights in the trees and in the decorated store windows. I found myself at Santa's home at Nordstrom along with a horde of children, all hardly able to stand even semi-still as they contemplated what they were going to say to Santa when it was finally their turn to talk with him.

Naturally, I wanted to see how various children would react when the moment came that they'd been waiting for. They walked, or were dragged, up to Santa.

I edged my way up toward a viewing window, an area where mothers, fathers and rebellious siblings were able to observe the momentous encounter.

I stood there for more than a half-hour watching children from small babies to 10-year-olds looking rather uncomfortable as they seriously discussed with Santa Claus the things that would make Christmas perfect.

They wiggled and squirmed with excitement. Their faces beamed, their eyes glistened as they assured Santa they'd been just about as good as it was possible for any boy or girl to be. They listed in detail what Santa could leave them under the tree.

I was touched by the scene, the wonder of children, the jolly and caring Santa, even the photographer elf. And this was what I was proposing to do away with.

There had to be a better answer.

I pondered all through Christmas, and now I have a plan.

Why can't we who celebrate the birth of the Christ child do just that - have our mangers, angels, stars and candles? We can have our Christmas tree topped by an angel or star. We can have anything that puts us in mind of the Nativity.

Others who do not share our faith could still have the Christmas tree and Santa Claus and all the wonderful images of Christmas, snow and snowmen, sleighs, families together and piles of presents. They can ignore stars and angels and the manger or use them.

The days of Hanukkah and Kwanzaa and Ramadan will be recognized as special days for Jews, African Americans and Muslims, respectively, and the secular Christmas will be a unifying festival for all of us.

Somehow we have to stop wrangling over Christmas, "Merry Christmas" and "Season's Greetings" and such trivia that certainly don't reflect the spirit of peace on earth to persons of goodwill that is Christmas.

But Christmas 2005 is past and the year 2006 is with us.

I wish one and all a bountiful new year.

Madison Park's Roberta Cole can be reached via e-mail at mptimes@nwlink. com.

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