A Los Angeles-area retirement center was briefly the center of the annual war against Christmas when employees tossed out a Christmas tree, menorahs and anything else festive, declaring them to be prohibited religious symbols.

Kids perform a traditional Christmas pageant

Meanwhile an elementary school banned children from the audience of its Christmas show — put on by children — and a Hawaiian atheist was gleeful that he’s blocked public school children from raising $30,000 for a Christian charity.

The nursing home ban provoked a nationwide outcry on Twitter and Facebook as well as denunciations from politicians and civil rights activists. Two dozen 80-year-old residents received 15 minutes of fame when they gathered in the lobby of The Willows retirement center with a hand-lettered sign pleading “please save our tree.” In the glare of TV cameras, the octogenarians asked the nurses to quit behaving like Scrooge.

“We’re all angry. We want that tree,” Fern Scheel told the Daily News. She has lived at the complex for nearly two years. “Where’s our freedom? This is ridiculous.”

Residents were furious over the tree ban

Jewish resident Frances Schaeffer said she couldn’t understand the nursing home’s attitude. “This tree is a symbol of reverence that we can all enjoy regardless of our religious beliefs,” she said.

Max Greenis who has lived at the complex for a year with his wife, Bonnie, said he was considering withholding his rent in protest.  “I’ve got grandkids and they come here and now they’ll ask, `Grandpa, where’s the Christmas tree?’ Then I’ll have to explain that someone said we couldn’t have one. What kind of message is that sending to the kids?”

“For some folks this is the only Christmas tree they’ll have all season,” resident Robert Troudeau said. “There are people overseas fighting for our freedoms and dying and we’re here fighting over things like this. It’s a shame.”

Embarrassed, the owners of the retirement complex, the multi-state JB Partners Group Inc., issued a terse statement to the press that the tree’s removal was the result of “a miscommunication,” according to the Sacramento Bee newspaper. The tree has now been restored.

Meanwhile in Yorkshire, England, parents were aghast when the local

school banned children from the audience during its annual Christmas pageant, according to the Daily Mail.

No siblings will be in the pageant audience

In a letter to parents, Eldwick Primary School’s head teacher Janice Kershaw decreed that children and babies “will not be allowed in the concert because any background noise could make it difficult to hear the performers.” She also cited vague “fire regulations” – although the school has never had to restrict attendance in years past.

As a result, siblings were barred from watching each other perform traditional holiday music and skits. That infuriated mom Melanie Whitehead – who called it ridiculous that little sister Scarlett Whitehead and brother Samuel would not get to watch big brother Miles sing carols with his class. She branded the school “anti-children.” Likewise, Scarlett and Samuel will also be stopped from enjoying each others’ performances in a later Christmas concert.

“It all just doesn’t seem very Christmassy does it?” asked the mom. “Just seems a bit mean. People just want to enjoy Christmas. There is a line you draw and sometimes a teacher or a school thinks they are in charge completely. Children should be allowed in and if they make a noise, the parent can take them out or a teacher can then say take him out. You can’t just take the decision out of their hands, no kids in case they make any noise. Its makes no sense to me.”

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