Consumerist.com Takes Aim at Early Christmas

The media campaign against Christmas has taken an unusually aggressive step forward. Consumerist.com, a branch of Consumer Reports, has launched a campaign against what they call “Christmas creep”. They are promoting the do-it-yourself craft project “featuring a sinister ornament who wants to invade the Halloween and Thanksgiving seasons. Beware! The “Christmas Creep” is coming for your favorite holidays!

“This kind of thing is pretty ridiculous of a media enterprise that has supposedly built their reputation on impartiality and looking out for the consumer,” said Jeff Westover, CEO of Merry Network LLC, a family of Christmas-related websites supporting the Christmas community online (and parent company to DefendChristmas.com). “There is nothing sinister about stores who sell Christmas items at any time of the year. There is a market for it. Plenty of shoppers and buyers want those products. Who are they to say it is improper?”

“It seems that every year retailers put out Christmas decorations earlier and earlier, sometimes in the middle of summer,” said Meghann Marco, executive editor of Consumerist.com. “We’ve created the ‘Christmas Creep’ as a device for consumers to stand up to retailers and take back summer, fall and all the holidays within these seasons.”

“That’s absurd,” Westover said. “Summer swimwear goes on sale in January. Easter items hit the sales floor within two weeks of Valentine’s Day. Fall products become available right after the Fourth of July. Christmas is no different. In fact, it is bigger. Decorating is so big for some that it takes months of planning and shopping to put a display together. Christmas is collectible, too. Consumers deserve to find those items year round. Christmas as a holiday is celebrated is sacred and secular ways and for many it isn’t a season, it is a way of thinking. The ideal of peace on earth and goodwill towards men should be celebrated year round and like it or not there is a market place of that. What possible harm comes from stores selling Christmas items in July?”

The media has stepped up a steady campaign in 2011 of complaining about “Christmas creep”. There have been dozens of features complaining about the early display of holiday product especially in stores. But that complaining has not come at the behest of consumers and reaction to the media campaign has not yielded a public response. “This is just an effort to lend credibility where there is none,” Westover said. “It is a whole new kind of battleground in the war on Christmas, if you will. The media, which gets a great deal of its revenue from Christmas advertising, just doesn’t want Christmas out there in any form until they say so. And you know what? Consumers don’t really care. Those who don’t want Christmas early don’t buy it. But those who want to and do shop for Christmas other than in December want what they want. Who is the Consumerist to take it away?”

84 Percent of Americans Think the War on Christmas is Bogus

The latest survey from My Merry Christmas.com reveals attitudes of the general public about the so-called War on Christmas: 84 percent, in fact, can’t call it a war at all. More than 4500 people from seven metropolitan areas of the country were surveyed and nearly 90% of them say the annual hype about the War on Christmas is just that — hype meant to drive political agendas.

For those who don’t take the time to really study DefendChristmas.com (this site), you’ll find we aren’t at all surprised with these results. In fact, we’ve been saying that for years. If we’re advocating anything here it is The War on the War on Christmas that we’re all about. Nevertheless, we’ll get the snide comments and snotty emails as we do every holiday season by folks perceiving that we’re beating war drums here on a bogus war on Christmas.

Like the respondents of the survey, we do NOT feel there is a War on Christmas. And like the survey respondents, we also feel a Christmas tree should be called a Christmas tree. And we’re not bothered in the least by the words “Happy Holidays”.

It is nice to see there are so many out there who agree with us. We were beginning to think people thought the war on Christmas was actually real.

Fresno Cancels Christmas Parade After 80 Years

One of Fresno’s most cherished holiday traditions has been canceled. The City of Fresno can no longer afford the annual Christmas parade.

After more than 80 years of festive floats and music, the event will be replaced with a tree lighting ceremony. City officials say the parade costs about $15,000 a year. The money earmarked for the parade will now be spent on community centers and after school programs.

Leesburg Back in the Christmas Business

Should it be “Merry Christmas,” or “Happy Holidays”? A local government is weighing in with a reversal of the so-called “war on Christmas.”

The Leesburg Town Council has voted to change the name of what used to be known as the town’s “Holiday Parade.” It will now be known as the “Christmas and Holiday Parade.”

“The parade takes place because of the Christmas season. To eliminate or expunge the name of Christmas solely for its religious reasons seems fundamentally unjust to me,” Leesburg Mayor Kristen Umstattd says.

She supported the measure and says most of the responses she’s gotten in the week or so since it passed have been positive, although there are always detractors.

“There are folks who don’t believe in God who would prefer to have the word ‘Christmas’ just taken out of every function that government has anything to do with, but we have the Christmas holiday, it’s a federal holiday, a state-sanctioned holiday,” she says.

The Loudoun County Courthouse in Leesburg has been the focus of fights over “holiday” versus “Christmas” in the last few years, something Umstattd says contributed to this change.

The person who requested the name change is the same person who asked the council last year to change the name of the “Holiday Tree Lighting.” It’s now known as the “Christmas Tree and Menorah Lighting.” He lives in Lansdowne, which is outside the town’s limits but within the county.

After the county banned all displays at the courthouse back in 2009, it now accepts applications for any type of holiday display to be put up there on a first-come, first-served basis.

“We can accept other cultures and other religions, but I don’t think accepting other viewpoints means eliminating something that has been part of the American fabric since (the country) began,” Umstattd says.

School Can’t Stop Girl from Distributing Christmas Party Flyer

A sixth-grade girl won an injunction to hand out flyers for her church’s Christmas party after a school forbade her from doing so last year.

The injunction order says that student, described in court filings as K.A., “is permitted to distribute religious flyers to her friends and classmates during non-instructional time at Barrett Elementary Center,” and the school cannot legally prohibit her from distributing literature that promotes religious events and activities.

K.A.’s father, Michael Ayers, filed suit on her behalf in March 2011. He said the dispute arose when K.A. planned to distribute Christmas party flyers among her classmates in the Pocono Mountain School District last December. When K.A.’s teacher saw the flyer, she told K.A. that the principal needed to approve it first. Principal Heidi Donohue than told K.A. and Ayers that the superintendent had to approve nonschool flyers, but that he had not given such approval to K.A.

Ayers said Superintendent Dwight Pfenning emailed him and told him that Policy 913 gave him the authority to prohibit the distribution of the flyer because it was “for an event run by an organization the school was unfamiliar with, rather than the flyer’s promotion of a religious holiday.”

The flyer in question promoted what was dubbed an “iKidz Rock Night Christmas Party,” a “just for kids” event with face-painting, pingpong, foosball, snacks, games and prizes.

The school did later adapt Policy 913 to state that “only literature and materials directly related to school district activities or that contribute significantly to district instructional programs may be disseminated to or through students and staff members,” but they made this change after they banned the distribution of K.A.’s flyer.

Pocono school officials claimed that their actions passed the test set out in Tinker v. Des Moines Independent Community School District – a landmark 1969 ruling in which the court held that a school had discriminated by suspending students who wore black wristbands to protest the Vietnam War. For Pocono, blocking distribution of K.A.’s Christmas flyer was reasonable “out of concerns for safety and to avoid classroom disruptions.”

Caputo agreed that Tinker applies because “this case is primarily about the expressive speech of a student.” But the school did not articulate “a specific and significant fear of disruption if K.A. was allowed to pass out her flyers,” according to the 11-page decision.

“The school argues that since it did not know the relevant details regarding the Christmas party: who was running it, the food that would be served, who would be supervising, etc., it did not want to send home a flyer that might mislead parents into believing it was a school-sanctioned event,” Caputo wrote. “However, the superintendent does not appear to have taken any steps to acquaint himself with the church or find out additional information.”

“Additionally, the superintendent testified that students frequently bring home invitations to student birthday parties, as well as solicitations and other material from outside organizations,” he added. “Parents were therefore on notice that much of the material that came home was for non-school sponsored events.”

K.A. can distribute flyers about future church events in the take-home folders and the literature-distribution table at the school, and the district “is prohibited from enforcing 913 as applied to prohibit Plaintiff from distributing literature promoting religious events and activities.”

Budget Shortfalls Blamed for Nixing Holiday Parade

HARRISBURG, Pa. — Santa Claus won’t be making his annual early visit to Pennsylvania’s capital city.

Officials in Harrisburg have canceled the city’s annual holiday parade because organizers haven’t raised enough money.

Last year, the cash-strapped capital started requiring special events to pay for themselves. Parks and recreation director Brenda Alton says not enough sponsors have ponied up to keep the floats afloat.

Mayor Linda Thompson says she’s hopeful the parade can be pulled off in 2012.

The parade has traditionally marked the start of the holiday season with floats, bands and balloons and the arrival of Santa Claus.

Parade organizers in the suburban Philadelphia town of Hatboro say a shortage of donations may force them to cut back their parade. Santa may have to hoof it rather than ride a float.

AFA Cashes in on War on Christmas

The emails insist it is your duty to defend the phrase “Merry Christmas” — and to let anyone you know exactly what’s wrong with the words “Happy Holidays”. The emails, of course, are from the American Family Association, who will spend the next 8 weeks reminding people that there is a War on Christmas. (Though there seems to be a truce of sorts during this recession.)

The AFA, like other Christian conservative groups, believes that people who say “Happy Holidays” are not celebrating the true meaning of Christmas. It sells seasonal buttons reading, “It’s okay to say Merry Christmas … I bring you good news of great joy.”

The AFA sent out an email alert on September 23, urging people to “Take a stand for Merry Christmas, not Happy Holidays — Help preserve our tradition of saying ‘Merry Christmas’ by sponsoring Project Merry Christmas in your church.”

The AFA, in the true tradition of Christmas marketers everywhere, encourage all buyers to “order now, operators are standing by”.

They will give their button campaign a boost at the first sign of the word Christmas being banned in a school…which should happen any day now.

New Thomas the Tank Engine Video Erases Christmas

Producers of a new Thomas the Tank Engine video, popular with kids around the world, are taking heat for removing all references to Christmas in a new video set for release before the 2011 Christmas season. The storyline is about competing trains who want to win a coveted prize of carrying all the presents of the children during a “winter holiday party” filled with “decorated trees”. Advance word of the release of the video has parent groups up in arms.

Hit Entertainment, the company behind the DVD, defended the release as it said about the video: “It was put out some time ago. It was not a seasonal release specifically aimed at a Christmas audience, but we do put out seasonal releases that have Christmas in the title. Last year we had Christmas Express and next year we are planning another Christmas title.”

However, John Midgely, of the Campaign Against Political Correctness, said: “This is an attempt to write Christmas out of something that is so popular with families.”

The original Thomas characters were created by Reverend Wilbert Awdry in 1945 while he was a vicar.