Katrina Was No Grinch

MSNBC.com has posted this dispatch from the Hurricane Katrina-ravaged town of Bay St. Louis, Miss. After all the pain and suffering that the storm caused the region, home after home in this slowly-recovering town has emerged with Christmas decorations proudly lighting up their trailers and homes. "Katrina took a lot of things, but it can't take Christmas," said Bay St. Louis resident Lance Rihner.

An Inner December Dilemma

Does a woman who is converting from Christianity to Judaism have to say "bah, humbug" to her family's Christmas traditions? This is the question a Beliefnet reader asked relationships columnist Rabbi Shmuley Boteach as December 25, Hanukkah, and Christmas draw near. Balancing her desire to remain close to her family with her commitment to her new religious home is a difficult but important task, Boteach explained. His suggestion? "Attend the family's Christmas celebrations without embracing the religious component of the holiday."

Holiday Peace with the In-Laws

This article in today's Boston Globe goes where few have dared to tread--into the family dynamics that can emerge when an interfaith family is faced with competitive holiday-celebrating. As the first Hanukkah candle is lit this year on Christmas Day, "some grandparents and other relatives may take it as license to engage in one-upmanship, a not-so-subtle way to woo grandchildren into thinking their holiday is better," writes reporter Barbara F. Meltz. There is hope, though. As long as parents are proactive, laying out the holiday plans clearly to both families before the fact, everyone should be able to enjoy eating latkes and candy canes as one big happy family.

Does Santa Have Gas?

Some retail stores that target younger shoppers are skipping the traditional December Dilemma and finding an entirely new way to offend parents. Off-color holiday songs can be heard in stores throughout the mall, featuring lyrics that involve Osama bin Laden getting run over by a reindeer, or Santa Claus struggling with digestive problems. As the author of the article writes, "Welcome to Christmas 2005, a land where Sinatra's sincere shtick has yielded to "South Park" satire."

Don't Wish Me Happy Chrismukkah!

The current issue of InterfaithFamily.com offers a number of articles on how interfaith families are dealing with the unusual phenomenon of the first night of Hanukkah falling on Christmas Day this year. One interesting sidebar are the results of the group's annual "December Dilemma Survey," which found that, among other things, 78 percent of interfaith families feel that "Chrismukkah," or celebrating both Hanukkah and Christmas concurrently, is a bad idea.

Is the Media to Blame for the Christmas Wars?

Fox News Channel host Bill O'Reilly wrote in yesterday's Talking Points Memo that retail stores and government agencies are not to blame for the contentious nature of Christmas in America. Instead, he says, the media is responsible for perpetuating the hostilities. Newspapers across the country--with only one exception, according to O'Reilly--have "distorted the issue," in part by saying "the entire controversy is a work of fanatical Christians." O'Reilly concludes by saying, "Twenty years ago, there was no Christmas controversy. Back then, saying `Merry Christmas' was the accepted greeting of the season. That is not true any longer."

Boycotting Target? Shop Hare Krishna!

The International Society for Krishna Consciousness, better known to most as Hare Krishnas, is advertising its Govinda’s Imports shop in Los Angeles as the best trendy place to shop for Christmas gifts. Celebrities from Pink to Anthony Hopkins to Drew Barrymore have reportedly browsed in the shop, which sells saris, incense, and other spiritual items.