, Derry, New Hampshire


December 12, 2013

Editorial: Make Franklin Pierce proud

Franklin Pierce would be proud.

The 14th president, a native of Hillsborough, was the first commander in chief to have a Christmas tree in the White House.

Now, the Rhode Island Statehouse has one, too.

For the past two years, Democratic Gov. Lincoln Chafee has referred to the towering spruce as a holiday tree. That move, meant to avoid hurt feelings and celebrate religious diversity, backfired.

Many residents reacted with anger, so much so that Chafee reversed himself and let the secretary of state light up the official state Christmas tree last week.

The holiday greeting debate is as predictable as Yankee swaps and stockings hung by the fire.

This year’s holiday confluence was muddied a bit by Thanksgivukkah. That’s a made-up word you won’t have to consider for another 70,000 years or so, the next time Thanksgiving and the first day of Hanukkah fall on the same date.

Thanksgivukkah didn’t appear to offend too many. Perhaps the convergence of those two holidays was easier to swallow than trying to balance Christmas, Hanukkah, the winter solstice and Kwanzaa.

Those holidays can all fall within the same week, although they don’t this year.

This all leads to the question — as annoying as “What do you want for Christmas?” — of what holiday greeting is the most acceptable.

A Rasmussen poll last week focused on all questions holiday. Merry Christmas beat Happy Holidays by the same margin fudge would beat fruitcake.

Sixty-six percent of respondents preferred Merry Christmas, just 21 percent opted for Happy Holidays. The remaining 13 percent apparently were still hemming and hawing on Santa’s knee when asked the question.

Schools must tread that perilous balance beam between offending some and allowing others to celebrate. They do a pretty good job of it. So what if the annual musical celebration is called a winter concert?

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