By PATTIE MIHALIK
With Christmas approaching, I was in the mood for some of my favorite carols as I drove to an appointment in the next town.
During that trip, which lasted two hours, do you know how many Christmas carols I heard?
Only two. And I'm not sure they count because they were instrumentals without words.
I kept changing stations, trying to find one that played the old time carols I love. I heard plenty of Christmas music – if you think "I saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus" and "Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer" qualify as Christmas music.
But I heard no real carols.
Finally, I found a radio station that calls itself "the Christmas station." Surely they will have the old carols, I thought.
Their version of Christmas songs didn't include one that mentions Jesus, the reason for the season.
What's going on here?
I received emails a while back telling me some atheist group is suing to keep Christmas carols off the airwaves because it violates the beliefs of non-Christians.
Another email said a group has filed petition #2493 with the FCC demanding 20 popular pastors be removed from the airwaves, along with all Christmas programs.
Frankly, I didn't believe there was much chance of that happening.
Again, I was wrong.
What is going on here?
Why are we sitting passively while those of us who celebrate Christmas are having "the reason for the season" stripped away?
There are approximately 250 million Christians in this country. The last survey I saw claims 73 percent of those in America identify themselves as Christians.
Yet, in the name of political politeness, all reference to Christ in Christmas has been obliterated.
We don't even call it Christmas anymore.
In the name of political correctness, we call it "the holidays."
Today, in our local paper, there were eight stories about upcoming holiday events. Every single story talked about "holiday celebrations." The only mention of the word Christmas was one sentence that said the Cultural Center was sponsoring a Christmas tree decorating contest.
I read one story that said my own homeowners' association was hosting a "holiday lighting" party for our community. The notice said it would include refreshments and an old-fashioned songfest.
I went, expecting to find the same sweet experience I had every year at the community caroling in Palmerton Borough Park.
No matter how cold it was, I found an inner warmth while caroling in the park and attending the ecumenical Christmas service. It helped me slow my pace and welcome the Christmas season in an uplifting way.
Please tell me they still have it. Please tell me that wonderful tradition continues.
Please tell me some communities still sing Christmas carols.
And if your town offers community caroling, make sure you attend. In towns across America, this tradition is slowly but surely disappearing.
I walked away disgruntled after attending the so-called caroling in my new community.
We sang "Here Comes Santa Claus," "Jingle Bells" and "Winter Wonderland."
No "Silent Night."
No "Joy to the World."
No "Hark the Herald Angels Sing."
"Because non-Christians attend, too," said one official. "We have to take everyone's beliefs into considerations.
But why does that mean Christians have to swallow their beliefs with no outward signs of what they are celebrating this month?
I'm tired of hearing we can't display a manger scene and can't sing Christmas songs that include a Christian reference.
I'm tired of having people wish me "happy holidays."
When my dentist said that as I was leaving his office this week, I firmly told him, "I don't celebrate 'the holidays.' I celebrate Christmas."
He didn't respond.
But as his dental assistant walked me out the door, she whispered: "I'm glad you said that. I celebrate Christmas too."
But since when is that something we have to whisper?
I told my family if this keeps up, I'm dropping out of "the holiday season celebration."
I will no longer spend big bucks buying presents.
I will no longer pay triple prices to fly home "for the holidays."
If our December festivities have nothing to do with celebrating the birth of Christ, I'm not doing any of it.
Instead, I told my family I would fly home for a first day of summer celebration. At that time, I'll buy special gifts for family members and we'll celebrate life.
But I won't celebrate "the holidays."
Yes, I'm mad.
And yes, I'm not going to take it anymore.
We have special celebrations for Hanukkah. We have special celebrations for Kwanzaa.
I want special celebrations for Christmas.
I don't want it called "the holidays" so people aren't offended.
So Merry Christmas, dear readers.
I hope your Christmas gifts include the courage to stand up for what you value.
If not, what you value will disappear and someday, you'll wonder how it happened.