Yes, this is a Christmas post and it will serve several functions, including at least one note for journalists to stash away in their calendars for next year's holiday-news season.
Item I: Christmas is one of those cultural steamrollers that demands treatment on A1 even in the most secular of news publications. Most of the time, one wakes up and finds a piece of stand-alone art that screams "Christmas," but with no valid news story attached to it. Christmas is, in other words, colorful and omnipresent but not all that real. So did anyone wake up this morning and find a particularly excellent (or terrible) in the local paper? Please share the URL in the comments pages.
Item II: Your GetReligionistas will, like most folks, be all over the place in the next week or two.
I, for example, will be headed to the mountains of East Tennessee -- Oak Ridge to be specific (Cumberland mountains photo above) -- to spend a few days with family in the house that will become our home this coming summer. That's when I will join The King's College in New York City as Senior Fellow for Media and Religion (teaching in block classes several times a year), while spending a lot more time working on GetReligion.
Other members of the team will be traveling as well. We will keep posting, but at a lower volume until I get back to my desk in Beltway-land on Jan. 5th. Please keep sending us URLs for the good and the bad you see on Godbeat work.
Item III: It is always good to remember that -- as big as Christmas is, as a cultural force -- there are believers who are not celebrating on Dec. 25th. For one thing, the old-calendar Eastern Orthodox (and there are millions of them) will not celebrate the Feast of the Nativity of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ until the first star appears on the evening of Jan. 6. Journalists may also find valid news hooks in the lives of Christians who actually try to celebrate all 12 days of the Christmas season, while the rest of America moves on to the NFL playoffs. Start by calling some Catholic parishes in Latino neighborhoods.
Also, there is this very interesting think piece in The Forward, looking at Christmas in normal America through the eyes of Jews determined not to go with the cultural flow. This made me think: How many Muslims in this land are now in a similar position?
Here is a key chunk of Sally Koslow's "Resisting Christmas in North Dakota." Editors may want to file this away as a source of ideas next year:
For 11 months of the year, being Jewish in Fargo wasn’t much of an issue. That changed every December, when the countdown to Christmas began.
You might imagine Fargo’s take on the holiday to be of the Martha Stewart variety, with tartan run amok and evergreen garlands looping every lamppost. Wrong. Nor was it a honkytonk holiday with rollicking rodents harmonizing in falsetto.
My hometown went hardcore. The predominant vibe was “Keep the Christ in Christmas.” This was a Noel writ large and grave, starring heavily-attended church services and snow-covered Nativity scenes. For color, there were trees — inside and out — awash in multicolored balls, reindeers on roofs, and Frosty on sweaters. Stores lining Broadway were decorated, but modestly, since most of them were owned or run by Temple Beth El members — Herbsts, Siegels, Sterns, Dorfmans, Horowitzs, Sgutts, Sharks and Liszts. With virtually no African-American or Asian residents, we were the minority among a tall, blonde population whose heritage had a thick Norwegian accent (cue “A Prairie Home Companion.”) The gastronomic delicacies of the season were krumkake, for that soupçon of scatological humor any family gathering requires; lefse, a flatbread concocted of the four blandest red-state food groups — potatoes, milk, flour and lard; and lutefisk, gelatinous whitefish, cured in lye. You think gefilte fish is unappealing?
But I digress. The truth is, I longed to join the Christmas hoopla, and that was not to be.
Item IV: Finally, even though this is more relevant to news on Dec. 6, I could not resist passing along this viral video from my own church tradition.
OK, this isn't a traditional song. Yet.