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The missing Christmas tree

Hans Zeiger

Hans Zeiger
December 19, 2003

The other day I returned to my old high school for its annual alumni assembly, an event that always occurs the week before Christmas as an excuse for hundreds of mostly aged men and women to rub shoulders with their classmates. For decades, it has been a tradition at Puyallup High School for the current sophomore, junior, and senior classes to hold a competition to see which class can best decorate a Christmas tree in the school gymnasium for the alumni assembly.

I recall my sophomore year when I was class president, charged by my peers with the task of outdoing the upperclassmen at decorating our class tree. The school gymnasium was filled with spirited teenagers until the late hours of the night before the alumni assembly — busily adorning the trees with all manner of lights and garlands and glitter.

Then, last year when I was a senior, the class tree tradition came to an end as administrators cited fire hazards and a new school district holiday observance code. After student leaders begged to decorate a Christmas tree, they were allowed to do so on the condition that fire retardant was amply applied to the lone Douglas Fir.

This year on the occasion of the alumni assembly, I returned to my alma mater for the first time since graduating from the place in June. But this year, there was no Christmas tree.

After asking student leaders and school officials about the missing Christmas tree, I found that my suspicions were correct: political correctness had triumphed over school tradition and holiday cheer.

Two large black boring wooden musical notes filled the void at the front of the gymnasium that our culture once filled. As if to mock the Christmas trees that should have been in their place, the dark structures were decorated with white lights.

Part of a new diversity initiative that has been implemented in the said school district, my little brother was taught last year by his fifth grade teacher that the symbol of Ramadan is a crescent, the symbol of Hanukah is a Menorah, and the symbol of Christmas is a Christmas tree. Of course, a tree is not the essential religious symbol of Christmas. But to the new preachers of diversity who occupy school district administrations and the legal organizations that sue them if they don't care enough about diversity, a Christmas tree is a symbol of religion.

The product of a multiculturalized, secularized culture is a confusing set of school holiday observance policies and regulations like one in a school district near Seattle which defines a Christmas tree as non-religious and religious at the same time: "Elements or symbols of holidays which possess a significant non-religious as well as religious origin and/or significance such as but not limited to: the Easter Bunny, Santa Claus, Christmas trees, reindeer, holly wreaths, and Yule logs. The district encourages building administrators and department managers to keep the use of these symbols to a minimum and for their display to be for a reasonable and limited period of time."

Perhaps that school district should appoint a holiday task force to tour classrooms throughout the district to ensure that no teacher leaves too much holiday décor on display in the classroom for too long a period of time.

The war on Christmas is spreading more quickly than the spirit of Christmas itself. It calmly recruits the masses of our neighbors who wander about wishing us "Happy Holidays" for fear of identifying the big holiday and offending an atheist.

Meanwhile, there seems to be no anxiety about offending a mighty God. We vainly assume that blessings of peace, unity, and love can be discovered within ourselves without being reminded in the symbols of our culture of those blessings that come from God.

Even a Christmas tree is too much a reminder of the Christmas spirit that we cannot have it on display in its traditional place at my alma mater. So we must fight — desperately — to get Christmas back.

Hans Zeiger, 18, an Eagle Scout, is an outspoken advocate on behalf of Scouting with the Scout Honor Coalition. He is a Seattle Times columnist and chairman of Washington Young Americans for Freedom. He can be contacted at hanszeiger@yahoo.com. Click here for more information.

© Copyright 2003 by Hans Zeiger

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