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Free to Be?

After about two weeks of a peaceful break, I began thinking about acceptance in general. Whether it is being tolerant of someone else’s choices or those dreaded months before college decisions are made, acceptance has been a point of contention in our society.

It seems that every year the “war” on Christmas arises a lot like Santa Claus, in that it literally does not exist and that it seems to arrive through the sky… by cable news satellites. Holding your opinion of the Fox News Channel and Bill O’Reilly aside, the spectacle is comical, at least in the households of rational Americans. Christmas Under Attack screamed through the headlines and double-tiered news tickers, receiving much more coverage than the Iraq war that actually exists.

In this “War” on Christmas, no weapons of Christmas destruction have been found. Granted, there is the occasional case of religious, or rather linguistic, over-sensitivity. Stores that had signs this year saying Happy Holidays instead of Merry Christmas seem all of a sudden to have offended some Christians, though it just as easily could offend non-Christians who feel that homogenized greetings ignore their holiday (Hanukkah, Kwanzaa) as well. Can anyone really be offended by the warm wishes of a happy holiday?

When we were young, Marlo Thomas sang to us about accepting each other and what makes each of us unique. But then, we grew older (and hopefully matured) and started singing a different tune. We stopped celebrating each other’s life choices and started qualifying them. Is acceptance a concept that only works for children, or were we right all along? Exactly when did it stop being “free to be you and me?”

It’s this concept of choices and endless options that makes America such an amazing country. Yet, it also fosters the development of ignorance and prejudices just because there are those endless options to bicker with. Go watch a television show, see a movie, go to an event or read a magazine about a topic that makes you a little uncomfortable. You may find that just learning a little about it makes you more comfortable with it.

Let’s spend a little more time accepting what makes each of us unique and less time finding a bandwagon to jump on just for the heck of it.

And to all of the people that disagree with this point of view, I ask you to write me in 20 years when you are the minority in Texas and advertisements say “Feliz Navidad.” Will the “war” at this time go the way of the dinosaur, or will you have switched sides?

So, in the spirit of the season, I hope everyone had a Merry Christmas, eight crazy nights of Hanukkah, a Festive Kwanzaa or just one enjoyable winter break.

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