‘Tis the season to be folly

For some, this is Hanukkah. For others, it is Merry Christmas. Others just wish Happy Holidays. Each celebrate in their own way.
Christmas or Hanukkah? It depends.

Sunday was a longer day than Saturday. That hasn’t happened for a whiile.

Today, Dec. 23, will be longer than Sunday.

Days started getting longer after Saturday,  the arrival of winter and the shortest day of the year.

“Think of it this way,” The Old Farmer’s Almanac tells us. “The solstice brings the return of more sunlight. It only gets brighter from here!”

From that point, days start getting longer a minute a day until the start of Summer in 2020.

Just as well. With the sun setting just after 5 p.m., things have been pretty dark around here.

The sun rises in our part of the world at 7:31 a.m. EDT today and sets at 5:09 p.m. We can expect it to look a little darker this morning because of rain forecast for the morning, but that is expected to end shortly after 11 a.m. and temperatures are expected to rise into the low 50s by his afternoon.

Highs are expected to reach the high 50s on Christmas Eve and again on Christmas Day and into the 60s on Thursday, the day after the holiday when many start exchanging gifts and after Christmas sales.

Let’s hope those shoppers took at least a few minutes Wednesday to stop and remember the real meaning of the holiday. That meaning, of course, depends on their choice of religion and/or belief.

Not everyone celebrates Christmas. Some religions do not recognize Jesus Christ as a son of God. The Jewish religion follows the Old Testament but discounts much of the New.

It is their right to celebrate their chosen religion their way, a right that is too often ignored by some who profess that the Christian faith is the only one that counts but it is just one of several “major” world religions. Others include Hinduism, Judaism, Buddhism, Islam and New Age Spirituality.

Each of these religions have millions of followers and the faithful who practice each religion feel their worship their own true God.

A longtime Jewish friend of ours sends out Christmas cars each year. They have the Star of David on the cover and a simple inscription inside: “Mary Christmas, fools” it says. She sends it as a joke and we take it as that.

During my time as a reporter, photographer and columnist for The Telegraph in Alton, Illinois (1960-81), I participated in a panel discussion at Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville.  Moderated by a Catholic priest, the panel also included a Rabbi, a Muslim holy man, a Southern Baptist preacher, a Hindu leader and an Atheist. Our topic was “religion and the media.”

During the discussion, a student asked the priest: “Father, why are they so many religions?”

He answered that even the protestant faith has different denominations and suggested that the split “depends on what parts of the Bible once chooses to accept as fact.”

To which I asked: “Father, if you can accept the possibility that some may not accept parts of the gospel as fat, how can we reject those who choose to reject it all?”

His answer? “I can’t.”

In discussions afterwards, he told me that “all religions are based on faith and all faith must accept matters on their beliefs.”

Throughout history, different cultures at different times accepted different faiths. Ancient Greeks and Romans celebrated their gods. Some celebrate their “devils” as supreme beings.

Amy and I believe in God, but we no longer consider ourselves members of any organized religion. We feel politics and religion do not mix. We have friends who consider themselves Jews, Hindus, Muslims and practitioners of other faiths. Some are atheists. They are still our friends.

When someone wishes us “Happy Holidays” instead of “Merry Christmas,” we are not offended. We also get “Happy Hanukkah” greetings.

Enjoy the season and, next week, have a Happy New Year.

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