HERE WE ARE again, on the threshold of Christmas, when the wish is for peace and love.
Tragically, one of the least peaceful and loving places on Earth is the Holy Land. Maybe the coming year will bring improvement, maybe not. Probably not. History does not create confidence in the future.
While I look ahead to Thursday, I do not forget the (not-quite) co-equal celebration, the Jewish Festival of Lights, that we're in the middle of. It's not amazing, but American: The two holidays co-exist peacefully.
It wasn't always the case, but times change. Anti-Semitism has diminished over the years.
I mention this because racism is being slow-cured, too slowly, but surely. We are now in a trough because of cases you are too familiar with, but we will move forward together, because we must.
Enough with the philosophy.
From what I see around, I think I am safe in announcing that "Hanukkah" has replaced "Chanukah" as the name of the holiday in English. This was different from how Mumbai replaced Bombay and Beijing replaced Peking. That was done by fiat, this is being done by preference.
Christmas remains Christmas - please avoid Xmas except on Twitter - and is always on the same day. Hanukkah is not because it's on the oddball Hebrew calendar, not the Gregorian calendar the rest of us use.
At this time of year you're sure to hear two things: the complaint that Christmas is being commercialized, and Fox News' "War on Christmas."
Commercialism is baked into the cake, and Christianity is to blame. The gifts brought to the baby by the Three Kings (or Wise Men, a/k/a Magi) evolved into an orgy of gift-giving. (But it does help lift our struggling economy.)
Pop quiz: Name the three kings. The correct answer is not Stephen, Alan and Martin Luther. The kings are actually Melchior, Caspar and Balthazar. If you got that right, you probably killed at Trivial Pursuit. (Anyone play that anymore, or has Cards Against Humanity replaced it?)
Do you believe in Santa Claus? What's the harm?
Do you think he loses his "Ho, ho, ho" when kids text their gift wish lists to him? Is Santa on Twitter? (Answer: Yes.)
Kids don't believe he knows if they've been naughty or nice because they increase their privacy settings when they do something bad.
So he doesn't know if they're sexting each other, which is an expanding social and moral crisis or a media-created myth. You can find it reported either way on the Internet, which (like television) has the capacity for genius, but is more often used for foolishness. Yes, I mean like reality shows that are stage-managed replicas of life, edited into faux reality.
Don't you wish you could edit out the boring parts of your life and the mistakes you've made?
Back to Santa. Fox News' Megyn Kelly got hosed because she said Santa is white. Technically, she's right, because Santa Claus can be traced back to a kind, pious monk named St. Nicholas, who is believed to have been born around A.D. 280 in what is today Turkey. The literary portrait was created in 1822, with Clement Clarke Moore's Christmas poem, "An Account of a Visit from St. Nicholas," followed by the Thomas Nast cartoon.
Kelly just could have handled it better, because Santa is a spirit.
Finally, now we've got Giving Tuesday, to encourage donations to charity. I like that more than Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, Cyber Monday, Exchange It Wednesday.
The holidays should be more about giving than receiving. That's why Santa's so jolly.
Merry Christmas to all of good heart.
On Twitter: @StuBykofsky