IS A TREE BY ANY OTHER NAME STILL A CHRISTMAS TREE?

By Skeptik Sinikian

My Holiday Season woes continued this week. And this time the Glendale Galleria had nothing to do with it. As I mentioned last week–I am going to stay further away from the Glendale Galleria than FEMA official from New Orleans. This one has to do with a horrible trend that I noticed the other day when I logged on to my account to check the hundreds of emails from excited and adoring readers (OK–so I logged on to delete the massive amounts of internet SPAM emails that flood my account. By the way–apparently I’m one telephone call away from transferring 30 million dollars into my bank account according to the son of a dead army general from Nigeria. I’ll let you know how that goes). Anyway–as I logged on to check my mail–I saw one of those classic America Online surveys. Those of you still living in an internet cave and still have AOL know what I’m talking about. They usually ask some banal question like "Is George W. Bush doing a good job or a FANTASTIC job in Iraq." Usually the answers are something like: Good – 33%–Fantastic – 60%–I Don’t Know – 7%. Absolutely ridiculous I tell ya. But the one that really got to me was a picture of a Christmas Tree and beneath it–it read "Holiday Tree or Christmas Tree?" The survey then explained that there was an ongoing debate in government whether the decorated conifers adorned with stars and angels should be referred to as "Christmas" trees or "Holiday" trees?

Here’s my question to AOL and anyone on the other side of this debate. What in baby Jesus’s name is a HOLIDAY tree? But that’s not the only place where Christmas (CHRIST-mas) is being replaced by the more politically correct term to appease the apparently throngs of Atheists–Agnostics–and others who are hell bent on washing away any semblance of the original meaning of this Holy Day (Holiday). It started off with the abbreviation of Christmas as X-mas. Does Christmas take too long to say or write? Are people in such a hurry that they can’t be bothered with saying the name of the full name of the actual event? What about calling Easter E-day instead. And when people ask–we can tell them that the E is for eggs. Where does this stop? I mean how would Jewish people feel if we started calling the Menorah a Holiday Candelabra? It’s just not right to belittle something that distinctly represents the age old traditions of the Jewish people around the time of Chanukah nor any other culture’s icons or images. Otherwise–we might as well start calling Buddha the clean shaven tanned Santa Claus.

Why pick on the Christmas tree? What’s it ever done to anyone? It’s not like the Christmas tree talks to children at night and whispers "Intelligent Design" conspiracies. "Mommy–Mommy–the Holiday tree told me that if I believe in evolution–then wintertime Buddha won’t bring me any gifts!" I don’t get it either. It all seems so Orwellian 1984-esque. Like I said last week–pretty soon we’ll only be wishing people Happy December.

Now don’t start losing your head and thinking I’m a Bible thumping preacher/televangelist type who will tell you how you’re going to burn in the bowels of Hell for stealing office supplies or for taking the Lord’s name in vain. My relationship with God is my business and yours is–well–yours. All I’m saying is that Christmas is the one time of the year when Christians are reminded of their obligations as Christians–to love–to share–to give–to care and to be all around selfless and peaceful individuals. And in these times of war–suffering–sickness–and everything else that seems to be going on in the world that’s wrong–it seems like now is the most appropriate time to be reminded of the spirit of Christmas. That’s all the "preaching" I’m going to do for now. I just had to get that off my chest.

Now last week–I gave you some Holiday Shopping Ideas. (I say Holiday only because Christmas is on January 6–but most of us exchange gifts on December 25–aka Faux Christmas). I told you about ARMENZONE.COM and a number of other cool sites. I want to thank those readers who had the patience to read my column all the way through and sent in suggestions for Christmas gifts. Here are some of my favorite suggestions:

From Raffi in Cilicia–"An interesting option for you to consider is Liberty Orchards. Back in 1920 these Armenian started selling "Lokhum" as Aplets and Cotlets and they have become pretty popular in the NW. But elsewhere they are virtually unknown and we should be eating them instead of "Turkish Delight." Promoting this among Armenia’s could give them a big boost in the Southwest–and the Northeast… especially if they get their non-Armenian friends hooked. You can check out their website for more info: www.libertyorchards.com/. "

Raffi–I couldn’t agree with you more. First of all–thank you for writing. Second of all–who doesn’t like "Lokhums?" So what if they sound like a character from the "Lord of the Rings" Trilogy? I’m all for getting non-Armenia’s hooked on products of Armenian origin. Let’s just get a copyright on the stuff before it becomes too popular so the next time I’m at the local Trader Joe’s–grocery store I don’t pop a vein when I see bread being sold with the following label "Original Hawaiian Lavash Bread." (True story! I was so upset–I almost didn’t accept the free sample of the cocktail weenies they were offering? I said ALMOST)

From Talar in places unknown–"A wonderful website–especially for Armenian kids is www.Talinemusic.com. She’s such a nice lady too. It’s Taline the kid’s singer and she’s very genuine. She has phenomenal CDs and DVDs. And it’s all in Armenian. She makes all of the traditional songs sound fabulous. Oh.Don’t’ forget the new System Of A Down CD too–great gift idea."

Thanks Talar! I almost forgot to mention the System Of A Down CD. I just bought three copies myself. One for myself and two to give away. I actually bought the double sided DVD-CD which features a short movie about the making of the album. The movie is not that interesting but it has one cool sequence which has images of the Armenian Genocide. Also–it features the B.Y.O.B. music video which is hands down–one of the best music videos of 2005. Buy the CD from any major retailer through www.ARMENZONE.com.

As for Taline–I don’t know her. But I’m going to take your word that she’s everything you say she is. I don’t have kids of my own but people who do have children seem to like Taline’s work. I haven’t regressed to the womb enough to appreciate her work but for anyone who does have little Armenia’s in training–do yourself a favor and buy them any products that will help them learn Armenian.

Also–for those of you who live in Glendale–visit Sardarabad and Abril bookstores. Each has its own unique flavor. They both feature great selection of books related to things Armenian in a variety of languages and dialects. And if you’re in the literary mood–there are a few publications that you might want to give gift subscriptions for–Asbarez (www.Asbarez.com) and Mosaix Magazine (www.MosaixMag.com). Mosaix is young and developing but remember–it’s only been around a few years. Asbarez is well–old and developing but how can you say no to any Armenian publication that will publish my dribble.

And if you want to really be different and actually embrace the full spirit of Christmas–just donate money to an Armenian charity in your friend or loved one’s name. I was going to name some charities that I thought were worthy of your support–but I thought against it. After all–it’s Christmas. They’re all helping forward causes that help Armenia’s in some shape or form. To pick a few and not the rest wouldn’t be fair. But do give. Give because it is the season for giving and because if you don’t give that money away to a worthy cause–you’re just going to spend it at the Glendale Galleria instead.

Skeptik Sinikian is a freelance Santa Clause during Christmas time and will be appearing outside an Armenian grocery store near you in the coming weeks. If you would like to sit on Skeptik’s lap (weight limit strictly enforced) or just tell him what you want for Christmas–email him at SkeptikSinikian@aol.com and stay tuned for the unveiling of his revamped Blog.

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