Christmas Christmas Christmas

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, December 28, 2004

As state auditor, I recently released an editorial titled &uot;Merry Christmas Alabama – Good News.&uot;

The article was regarding our end of the year report which featured for the first time in state history 93 percent perfect audits among state agencies. That was an 82 percent increase over the previous year with a 25 percent budget cut.

Therefore, our agency’s Christmas gift to all Alabamians was better results with less money thus giving them the gift of better government.

Since that article has been released, I have been astonished at the number of responses I have received from it. It has been overwhelming.

The responses were not ranting and raving about agreeing or disagreeing with the article. They were not praising it for its content or the personal insight with which I wrote it.

Although most of them were from grateful citizens proud that we have saved them money, most of the emails were actually sincerely thanking me for using the words &uot;Merry Christmas.&uot;

I was shocked. It was as if I had become a modern day hero for being brave enough to use those words. Yet the words Merry Christmas are as common to most of us as good morning, thank you or goodbye.

This is especially true in Alabama – or so I thought.

One man emailed and said a fellow employee in his company had been reprimanded for sending an email that included the words &uot;Merry Christmas.&uot;

Another person wrote from North Alabama and said their neighborhood was not allowed to have Christmas parties anymore and could refer to subdivision parties as holiday parties only or not have them at all.

Some folks wrote to say that their public schools no longer allowed the words Christmas vacation to be uttered among the staff or students but insisted it must be termed winter holidays only. Some stores no longer have Christmas sales, only holiday sales.

The emails continued to fill my inbox and with each one, I became more amazed to learn that we live in a society where people would ever feel a need to thank me for saying something that’s as sacred and traditional annually to most of us as breathing is daily.

People cannot continue to allow others to remove what is sacred to us. We cannot allow ourselves to be politically corrected to death.

After all, shouldn’t politically correcting someone in such great excess be considered politically incorrect? It would seem so.

While I feel honored and appreciative that people would thank me for managing an agency that has saved them thousands of taxpayer dollars, I was shocked to have them thank me for saying Merry Christmas.

It’s not me they need to thank, but rather the &uot;reason for the season&uot; as some might say. I’m just glad we have a reason to say Merry Christmas.

What will come next? Instead of Happy Thanksgiving, will it simply be called Thanksgiving because everyone is not supposed to be happy, or at least not to acknowledge it?

Will we allow God bless America to become simply Bless America because not everyone believes in God?

I thank God for the right to say Merry Christmas because of the reason we celebrate Christmas – the birth of Jesus Christ, the savior of the world.

So as I prepare to wrap my Christmas presents to place under my Christmas tree with all its Christmas ornaments and Christmas lights, while spending time with my children (who are temporarily out of their public school on Christmas vacation), read the Christmas Story, attend my church’s Christmas candlelight service, prepare Christmas treats and greet friends and family at Christmas parties, wake up Christmas morning and watch my overly excited, wide-eyed children open their Christmas presents, then thank God over our Christmas dinner for the birth of Jesus Christ – the reason for the season – all I have to say is this – Merry Christmas to everyone and

Happy New Year, too.

Beth Chapman serves as Alabama’s state auditor. She and her husband, James, and two sons, Taylor and Thatcher, reside in North Shelby County. She can be reached at