Some celebrants of Christmas recently bemoaned the raising of a Festivus Pole at the Florida State Capitol in response to the large Nativity already on display. A Fox News reporter asked how she is supposed to explain the symbol of secular anti-consumerism to her children while she drives them around looking at Christmas decorations. What exactly is the worry here, that she will have to reveal to her kids that not everyone has the same traditions? If that is really such an egregious thing, surely the nativity set is just as offensive as the Festivus pole to people who do not celebrate Christmas, or that do so in a secular fashion.
Given that the reporter does not consider herself to be making a logical error, she must see a fundamental difference between the two decorations. People celebrate both holidays, so it can’t be that the nativity set is representative of an actual custom while the Festivus pole is not. Perhaps it is that Christmas is a long-standing tradition while Festivus is a recent creation. While this may be a reason for her personal discomfort, the newness of a belief is not in and of itself a reason to invalidate it.
Perhaps she does not take herself to be making any sort of objective statement on the customs. The logical issues disappear if we consider that she might merely be reporting on her opinions, but making no statement on the pole’s deservedness to share space at the Capitol. This of course also takes away the desired thrust of her complaint, as we could disregard her opinion as easily as she does for the objections raised against the nativity display.
The reporter characterizes the situation as one of the latest battles in the war on Christmas. Given that folks are not being asked to stop their private Christmas traditions, and indeed, decorations are even displayed on government property, this is pure hyperbole. The reporter is causing a fuss it seems because she wants only her own traditions acknowledged and not those that are different. There may be a war on Christmas, but it only amounts to the acknowledgement of other beliefs.