JIM CREES: Getting ready for the holidays

Wellllll ... we’re gearing up for a another holiday of sorts.

While lots of people, (in fact, most people), are getting ready for the Christmas holiday season and all the joy the festive time between Thanksgiving Day and Christmas brings to individuals and communities, others are excitedly awaiting the period of their persecution.

It’s time for the annual “They’re killing Christmas” party, and it’s starting early this year ... of so it seems.

We haven’t yet calmed down from Opening Day, and already I’m getting peppered with information about how Christians are being persecuted in these United States, and how our Muslim president is banning Christmas.

Sigh.

OK. In hopes of helping people simply enjoy the Christmas holiday season for what it is and should be — a time of “Peace, Goodwill toward all People” — I’m going to churn out my annual “Calm down. Nobody is stealing your Christmas” column.

Recently, one writer wrote:

“I am a retired mail carrier and speaking to a post master whose name I won’t mention told me (sic) that he/she can not greet customers with “Merry Christmas” ... I was told Christmas was taboo.”

Ahhhhhh ... where would Christmas be without someone, in this case the United States Postal Service, supposedly ordering clerks not to say Merry Christmas.

Some years it’s Walmart, Lowes, or some other chain. This year, the organization first attacking Christmas is the Post Office.

Hmmmmmm ...

And yet ....

The U.S. Post Office just recently released its annual Christmas postage stamp.

The holiday stamp doesn’t have some milksop image of tinsel and ivy, or a Rudolf figure. It boldly carries a reproduction of the Madonna and Child.

Yes. THAT Madonna, and THAT Child.

Following is the U.S. Post Office official description of the stamp:

“Five centuries ago, Jan Gossaert helped bring the genius of the Italian Renaissance to northern Europe. Today, his devotional paintings, rich in symbolism, still vividly evoke the traditions of Christmas.

“The new Virgin and Child by Jan Gossaert Forever® Christmas stamp features Gossaert’s 1531 painting Virgin and Child.

“Draped in purple and blue, the Virgin Mary supports her own head by leaning on one of her hands, an unusual pose that art historians see as a sign of sadness and contemplation.

“In her other hand, a curly-haired infant Jesus draped in white holds a bunch of red currants, which scholars believe are meant to foreshadow his future suffering.”

Any reader can find the stamp and it’s description on the USPS website. That is to say, anyone who is not interested in promulgating the myth of Christian persecution in these United States.

Look. I understand.

It’s fun to be persecuted — especially when you still have heat, and food, and gas for your car.

It’s fun to be persecuted when you’re out to dinner with the gang and then drive home to turn on Fox News to hear how much more persecuted you are this week.

It’s fun to be downtrodden — especially when you don’t need to put up with actually being downtrodden, and don’t need to actually suffer the pain of real persecution.

In studying persecution of the Christian church in America, I found ... um ... er ... none. Nothing except for a bunch of manufactured persecution, and especially at this time of year.

I looked and found a group call International Christian Concern who run a site called Persecution.org, already a bit odd.

Nevertheless, they don’t even have a category for the U.S.

What little “persecution” they did note involved such as the following:

“Sonoma State University in California has said it will investigate why a school official ordered Audrey Jarvis, a young Christian student, to remove or hide her cross necklace while working at a student orientation fair earlier this year.”

This needs to be compared with:

“Christian Murdered While Praying in Nepal

“On October 20, a Christian man was lured to a house to pray over a sick man. It was a trap and the ‘sick’ man murdered him when he arrived.”

Hmmmmmm ... lemme see. Some dingbat college official asks a girl to tuck her cross in her blouse, as compared to a lay pastor being murdered for his beliefs.

Well ... persecution is persecution I guess. It’s all the same — at least to some.

Look folks, we are entering the Christmas holiday season.

You can enjoy the spirit of the season, or you can let Fox News and Pat Robertson get you jacked about some persecution silliness.

Frankly, I’m going to enjoy the Christmas season and the Chanukah holiday as well.

I’m going to offer all and sundry a “Happy Holidays” greeting, and if you don’t wish to accept my best wishes ... tough.

I will send out Christmas cards with USPS Christmas stamps, and I won’t waste any time looking for some hidden persecution lurking around the corner or encoded in some holiday greeting.

I’m going to enjoy the holiday, from Thanksgiving Day through Christmas.

I’d suggest you turn off Fox News and do the same!