Barking up the wrong Holiday tree

Barking up the wrong Holiday tree

On a recent trip to Indiana, I noted that (l) shoppers are unwitting pawns in the hands of phrase-mongers; (‘) angry legislators hiss holiday greetings on camera; and (3) dog-lovers tend to be liberal.

Entering Wal-Mart (and exiting Wal-Mart, and leaving and re-entering Wal-Mart), I was surrounded by cries of "Merry Christmas." Much to the chagrin of my son, I responded, "Thanks, but wrong holiday." To which the red-clad, bell-shaking bearer of greetings replied, "Sorry, Happy Chanukah."


Entering (and exiting, etc.) Target was another story. There, screamers-in-residence called out "Happy Holiday." Little did I realize how hardy these callers truly were — braving not only the Indiana cold but Bill O’Reilly himself. As I later learned, some right-wing grinches had called for a consumer boycott of Target stores because their holiday advertising circular did not mention Christmas.

It was an interesting week in Indiana (with a nod to Garrison Keillor, who makes that claim for Lake Wobegon every week). Apparently, lawmakers were severely put out by a federal judge’s ruling that the Indiana legislature could no longer mention the name of Jesus during prayer.

That would explain a holiday greeting that shocked me to my core during a local television broadcast. Smiling into the camera, surrounded by husband and kids, an elected state official wished everyone a "Merry Christmas," adding, in case we missed the subliminal message, "and remember, Jesus is the reason for the season."

I found out later from my son that anger at the federal ruling had been spilling out all over the place. Still, this was more than "acting out." I can’t imagine any New York or New Jersey politician getting away with such a public display of contempt for church-state separation.

Indiana is unquestionably red. (It’s not just Indiana, though. The ‘004 presidential elections reveal a national map divided into 31 red states and only 19 blue ones.) While LBJ did beat Goldwater in Indiana, you have to go back to Franklin Roosevelt’s second election to find another instance of the Democrats carrying the state. So the legislator in question may be affronted by a perceived attack on her religious beliefs, or she may just be one savvy lady. It’s likely she pleased more people than she alienated. I don’t plan to move to Indiana to find out.

Still, there were some signs of hope. Apparently, the red state has some blue people.

I did a certain amount of research among dog owners and found them to be an interesting breed. (In truth, I had little choice. My son’s dog was bored and needed to visit with other canines. I, therefore, needed to visit with other dog owners with bored dogs.)

In general, the dog owners I met (although, admittedly, two people don’t constitute a proper sample) decry partisan politics, fundamentalist religion, and people who don’t like dogs. They let their pets choose their own friends, regardless of color or religion, and they like babies. Needless to say, I was very impressed.