Peace on Earth. Good will toward men.We honestly thought that was the message of Christmas until we started reading this season about all the hubbub over "Merry Christmas" vs. "Happy holidays." In the beginning, we just dismissed it as another controversy hyped up to drive cable-TV ratings and draw readers to Internet blogs.
But then we realized many people are taking the issue quite seriously, especially Christians who believe the use of generic terms is an affront to their religious sensibilities.
Is there some kind of "war on Christmas," as some puffed-up TV commentators have alleged? Of course not.
First, the phrase itself trivializes both war and Christmas. The United States is involved in a very real and deadly war in Iraq. Unless somebody is shooting at somebody else, it's not a war.
And nobody is suggesting doing away with Christmas. It's a national holiday, America's most cherished and celebrated. And commercialized.
People have been saying "Happy holidays" for at least as long as they've been saying the image of Santa Claus and preoccupation with gift-giving have turned the birth of Christ into a holiday afterthought.
If Christians decry anything, it should be the make-a-buck ethic that overwhelms everything else. That's old news now, we guess. Still, even the most casual Christians must recognize the Christmas season as the time of year when the message of their faith comes through the clearest.
Peace on Earth. Good will toward men.
It's more important to mean it than to say it.