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Words from the founding fathers

Words from the founding fathers

Posted: Friday, December 24, 2010 8:01 pm
By: By Nathan Castleman, Guest Columnist

The Press 12/23

What if you had to pay a fine for celebrating Christmas or were punished for missing school on Christmas day? That’s the early history in our country.  

The Pilgrims and Puritans of New England were concerned with the simple life and did not observe any rituals or celebrations that were not found in the Bible.  Since the date of Jesus’s birth was not in the Bible, the observance of it on a certain date came from a Roman tradition which made it a pagan holiday.  

Therefore in New England, Christmas day was just a regular working day. Massachusetts passed a law in 1659 saying, “Whosoever shall be found observing any such day as Christmas . . . shall pay for each offense five shillings as a fine to the country.”  

Not until 1830s and 40s were Christmas celebration becoming more acceptable.  Even with this gradual acceptance, in 1870 a Boston public school student could be punished or expelled for missing school on Christmas Day.  

Southern states were the first to make Christmas a legal holiday, beginning with Louisiana in 1837. Most celebrations were characterized by parties or balls, with elaborate meals. These festivities were for adults only. Even though it was controversial, Martha Washington would host a very festive celebration at Mount Vernon beginning with a fox hunt Christmas morning, followed by a mid-day feast and visiting of others which might last for an entire week.

Since these early days, many changes have occurred in the way we celebrate Christmas. In 1870 Christmas was recognized as a holiday by the federal government. In 1889 the tradition of having a live indoor Christmas tree in the White House was started during President Harrison presidency on that Christmas morning. 

In 1895, First Lady Frances Cleveland hung electric lights on the indoor tree. In 1923, President Calvin Coolidge started the National Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony. In 1953, the Eisenhowers sought out Hallmark Cards to assist them in creating a presidential Christmas card. 

In 1963, the first Christmas card to include an explicitly religious element was the Kennedy card featuring a photo of a Nativity Scene set up in the East Room of the White House. 

In 1981, President Ronald Reagan authorized the first official White House ornament, copies of which were made available for purchase. In 2001, the first White House Christmas card to contain a Scripture was chosen by Laura Bush. Quoting from Psalm 27, it said “Thy face, Lord, do I seek. I believe that I shall see the goodness of the Lord in the Land of the Living.”

And this Christmas, WE GET PRESENTS from Washington!!! 

Isn’t that just great. One present is the recently passed tax bill, which adds over $200 billion in new deficit spending and was full of earmarks worth millions. Merry Christmas. 

Welcome back death tax – Merry Christmas. The repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.  Merry Christmas. Then there’s the new START Treaty (the first treaty ever passed by a lame duck Congress), which would restrict U.S. options on a missile defense system to protect America and its allies. Plus it has insufficient procedures to verify Russia’s adherence. Merry Christmas (to Russia).  

Numerous bills approved by the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee that would designate over two million acres of national parks, monuments, wilderness areas and wildlife sanctuaries. Merry Christmas. Oops, forgot to pass a budget, so they passed a Continuing Resolution in order to allow the federal government to keep going.  Merry Christmas.  

Sorry to tell you that you won’t be getting the DREAM Act or the nearly 2,000 page Omnibus Bill with near 7,000 earmarks – Bah Humbug!  But wait, you do get net neutrality. This comes from our friends at the FCC. You know them. They are the ones who are appointed (not elected or held accountable by voters), who decided they know better than Congress or the courts who said no to net neutrality. 

You see they know that there must be something wrong with the Internet, so they have decided to regulate it. Merry Christmas once again. I just know that this will make things so much easier. But what could be easier than the easy access we now have? I feel some fees, taxes, and limitations in our future. Merry Christmas.  

Well at least with the government regulating it, I’m sure it will be much better.  They do such a good job of taking care of us poor ignorant citizens. Besides if the U.N. and Hugo Chavez are for it, then I know it will be great. But wait, don’t you just love surprises for Christmas? I just got one before this column went to print. The White House has drafted an executive order that would set up a system for periodically reviewing the cases of Guantanamo prisoners who the courts have approved for detention without trial due to their status of being too dangerous.  

This would establish a parole board-like group that would evaluate whether each detainee poses a continued threat, or be safely transferred to another country. They’ve already recaptured similar released detainees. I’m sure there will be more surprises to come before Christmas gets here.  So, Merry Christmas from all those Santas in Washington. 

I’ve only got one thing to say: “You shouldn’t have!”

 Send me your comments by email to foundingwords@yahoo.com.

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