The most recent casualty, at least going by the Daily Mail, is a release of Thomas the Tank Engine on DVD:
The team behind the much-loved children’s TV series has angered campaigners by setting a story during the ‘winter holidays’.
Even Christmas trees have been axed in an episode of the DVD, Little Engines, Big Days Out, and are instead referred to as decorated trees. Brightly wrapped presents are delivered to a ‘holiday party’.
Critics say the omission was particularly strange because the original Thomas books, hugely popular around the world, were written by a clergyman, the Reverend Wilbert Awdry.
I think most kids are savvy enough to see through that switcharoo, don’t you? Kids know what time of year typically generates a desire to hang shiny shit on trees and gift wrap packages to shake, rattle and roll underneath them. I’m sure they don’t really give a damn what the event is called so long as a few of those gifts will have their names on come the big day. We may as well be honest and call it “Gimme a Present Day” and be done with it.
Ann Widdecombe, the former Government Minister and convert to Roman Catholicism, said it was ‘extra ridiculous’ not to mention Christmas in a children’s story as youngsters would be anticipating the special day for months in advance.
‘The shops will be stocking Christmas gifts, the television will be advertising presents and people will be talking about it, so the idea that children won’t hear about it is ludicrous,’ she said.
I understand the desire to make things more inclusive. Nobody likes feeling left out of things and it really is a very simple matter to change the name of a holiday to something else in order to reflect that. That said, nobody ever insists Hanukkah ought to be more secularized. Why not? Is it because it’s still practiced by a minority and celebrates a specific political victory that had meaning for Jews alone? Other groups have overthrown their governments in the times since, but none of them ever bothered to adopt the menorah to commemorate their victories. Could they have? I’m just throwing it out there. Hmm.. I get an idea for an alternative history book now where Judaism was the popular faith of old and Christians were the ones run out of town and later decimated like plague-ridden rats…
Hit Entertainment, the company behind the DVD, said: ‘It was put out some time ago. It was not a seasonal release specifically aimed at a Christmas audience, but we do put out seasonal releases that have Christmas in the title.
‘Last year we had Christmas Express and next year we are planning another Christmas title.’
However, John Midgely, of the Campaign Against Political Correctness, said: ‘This is an attempt to write Christmas out of something that is so popular with families.’
Truth be told, this editing is getting absurd. Let the tree be a Christmas tree. Let the day be called Christmas Day. They’re hardly fooling anyone by switching the terminology around. Muslim kids aren’t going to start begging their folks to let them put trees up to celebrate this particular December event anyway. They’ve got their own special holidays in their lunar counted year. I don’t hear of people begging to get in on their New Year’s Day celebrations, this year on November 26th. Do they do anything special to commemorate that? I have no idea. The Day of Ashura hits ten days later, on December 7th, but a whole day to do nothing but mourn an ancient martyr sounds painfully depressing. Passaroonie.
Every religion has its special events across the year, but Christianity is certainly the odd one out in terms of how many of their holidays wound up with secularized versions on the same days. When I think of Easter, it’s bunnies and eggs, not torture and death. When I think of Christmas, it’s not angels and holy miracles coming to mind; it’s songs I’m sick of hearing by December 2nd and overeating on the big day.
I think Christmas will always have its secular counterpart and whether it winds up being called Christmas or Festivus or whatever, the point is moot. Have fun. Eat, drink, and be merry. Watch the kids go bananas over their new possessions. Fondly recall the days when you had the same Christmas day reactions to yours.
Like the year I got a Care Bear. I think I was 10 and when I unwrapped Good Luck Bear, I think I bolted to my bedroom, rubbed my hands over my eyes in case I imagined it, and then ran back into the living room to make sure it was still there. I still have him, too. I remember the year I found a VCR under there, and several rented movies. Parenthood was absolute crap but I still love The Little Mermaid. I got a guitar one year that did get some play, and Mom has a few pictures around of early Christmases and evidence of what my toys looked like before I broke them. (I still played with them though. I was that kind of kid.) I’ve still got my old fox and yellow stuffed dinosaur too, battered though they are. I got those the year I was begging for a giant stuffed stegosaurus I’d seen advertised in the Sears catalogue. At least Todd and Dino were the right size to cuddle in bed for years afterwards. No idea what I would have done with the big guy… Sometimes my parents were pretty smart.
What do you remember?