O Christmas Tree

Christmas is great. It the best syncretic multi-faith cultural-religious festival in the world. For it is on Christmas Day that we celebrate the birthday of Sol Invictus and Jesus by burning a log to the glory of Odin.

And what is Christmas without the two best traditions of all:

The Christmas Tree: decked out in all its glory – not with the corpses of male animals and slaves – but with candy canes, flashing lights, and tinsel.

Scrooge: that miserable killjoy, who tries and fails to cancel Christmas, before being won over by the joy of the season.

Traditionally, of course, the role of Scrooge has been played by try-too-hard local authorities and schools. This year, however, the role of Scrooge has been played by Rabbi Elazar Bogomilsky, of the Lubavitch: a jewish-themed new age religion which follows a dead Messiah called Menachem Mendel Schneerson.

The story goes like this

The situation began rather quietly back in late October or early November when Mitchell Stein, a construction consultant for the Port, contacted a Port staffer saying he’d like to put up a large menorah near the Christmas tree in the international arrival hall.

Stein, who is Jewish and is friends with Bogomilsky, said he thought it would be a “great opportunity for the Port to show their joy and commitment to diversity.”

Over the next several weeks, though, he said, he was referred to several different people on staff, who told him different things about whether a menorah would be allowed.

Stein said Harvey Grad, the rabbi’s attorney, contacted the Port last week and sent officials a legal document as a way of spurring action and to let the Port know the legal precedents involved in the issue.

It was not intended to be threatening, Stein said. When Port commissioners “told us … that they were taking down all the Christmas trees, we were totally aghast.”

But some Port commissioners said they first heard about a threatened lawsuit Thursday.

“From what we were made to understand, if we didn’t accede to the group’s demands,” they would file a lawsuit by the next day, Creighton said. “At the time, it seemed to be a reasonable solution to remove the Christmas trees.”

Just pausing there for a moment, in what sense is sending a letter before action not a “threatening” thing to do? And what, precisely, is wrong with a Hannukah Bush?

Still not to worry. Scrooge’s heart is softened:

At the airport Monday night, Matt Bachleda of Snohomish was playing cards while waiting for his daughter to arrive from Paris. He was surprised to see Port staff putting a tree back up in the baggage-claim area.

“It looks like Christmas is back,” he said.

As for Rabbi Bogomilsky? Well, we all know how the story ends:

It was always said of him, that he knew how to keep Christmas well, if any man alive possessed the knowledge. May that be truly said of us, and all of us!

And so, as Tiny Tim observed, God Bless Us, Every One!