Fifty-year-old message still relevant today

“Do you hear what I hear?”

It’s been noisy leading up to Christmas this year.

The drama started nearly a month ago when child advocates became alarmed after learning the Internet Santa tracker NORAD would have fighter jets flanking the jolly old elf and his sleigh.

The North American Aerospace Defense Command website is “completely out of line” for adding the jets, said Allen Kanner, co-founder of the Campaign for a Commercial Free Childhood in an interview with The Boston Globe.

“Children associate Santa with gifts and fun and everything else that is positive about Christmas,” Kanner said. “They are associating this with the military in children’s minds.”

The trouble died down when we learned the unarmed jets have been with Santa since the 1960s.

But that controversy was tame compared to the “black Santa” debate.

A blogger wrote about her childhood confusion — the Santas she saw at school and the mall were white, but those depicted in her house had dark skin like hers.

“I propose that America abandon Santa-as-fat-old-white-man and create a new symbol of Christmas cheer. From here on out, Santa Claus should be a penguin,” wrote Aisha Harris.

“For one thing, making Santa Claus an animal rather than an old white male could spare millions of nonwhite kids the insecurity and shame that I remember from childhood. … Plus, people love penguins.”

Harris’ tongue-in-cheek comments were blown out of proportion and the topic reached bizarre standards when a Rio Rancho school teacher told a black student he should not be Santa because Santa is white.

And of course we had the usual discussions about how Christmas has become too commercial and how a “merry Christmas” greeting can be as offensive as “happy holidays.”

And so we’re glad it’s finally Christmas Day and the noise is starting to die down, except for the happy sounds of children and the more traditional experiences of the season.

As for our original question — “Do you hear what I hear?” — Bing Crosby made the song a hit 50 years ago this month and its message is still relevant and, we think, sums up Christmas the way it is supposed to be.

“The Child, the Child, sleeping in the night … He will bring us goodness and light … He will bring us goodness and light.”

Unsigned editorials are the opinion of the Clovis Media Inc. editorial board, which includes Publisher Ray Sullivan and Editor David Stevens.



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