Tuesday, December 12, 2006

December 12, 2006

Damn, give a situation a little time, and it resolves itself. The Christmas tree – at least for this year – no longer hangs in the balance. See below story!

SEATAC, Washington (AP) -- Christmas trees are going back up at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport.

Pat Davis, president of the Port of Seattle commission, which directs airport operations, said late Monday that maintenance staff would restore the 14 plastic holiday trees, festooned with red ribbons and bows, that were removed over the weekend because of a rabbi's complaint that holiday decor did not include a menorah.

Airport managers believed that if they allowed the addition of an 8-foot-tall menorah to the display, as Seattle Rabbi Elazar Bogomilsky had requested, they would also have to display symbols of other religions and cultures, which was not something airport workers had time for during the busiest travel season of the year, Airport Director Mark Reis said earlier Monday.

Port officials received word Monday afternoon that Bogomilsky's organization would not file a lawsuit at this time to seek the placement of a menorah, Davis said in a statement.
"Given that, the holiday trees will be replaced as quickly as possible," he said.
Davis added that the rabbi "never asked us to remove the trees; it was the port's decision based on what we knew at the time."

There were no immediate plans to display a menorah, airport spokesman Bob Parker said, saying restoration of the trees was expected to take place overnight Monday.
"A key element in moving forward will be to work with the rabbi and other members of the community to develop a plan for next year's holiday decorations at the airport," the port statement said.

The rabbi has also offered to give the port an electric menorah to display, said his lawyer, Harvey Grad. "We are not going to be the instrument by which the port holds Christmas hostage," Grad said, emphasizing the rabbi never sought removal of the trees, but addition of the menorah. The rabbi had received "all kinds of calls and emails," many of them "odious," Grad said, adding he was "trying to figure out how this is consistent with the spirit of Christmas."

Thirteen trees had sat above foyers that lead outside to the airport drive. The largest tree, which Reis estimated to be 15 or 20 feet tall, was placed in a large lobby near baggage claim for international arrivals.

After the removal, some airline workers decorated ticketing counters with their own miniature Christmas trees.

Customer service agents with Frontier Airlines pooled their money Monday morning to buy four 1-foot-high Christmas trees, which they placed on the airline's ticketing counter. Atop a Delta counter, workers put up a tree several feet tall.

The airlines lease space for ticket counters from the airport, and can display trees there if they want, Reis said. (cnn.com - 12/12/2006)

It appears that the human spirit, the desire to protect the beleaguered Christmas tree, to bring it back out into the light for people to see, is stronger than I originally thought. Perhaps even more moving is the fact that, in protest of the shabby treatment of the Christmas trees at the Seattle airport, airline employees fought back in their own way. Bravo to the human spirit!!!

In the end, no matter a persons beliefs – Christianity, Judaism, Hindu, Paganism, etc. – the Christmas tree is a just a tree. It is not a weapon to beat down other religions. It is a memory of childhood, of lying beneath the tree and looking up at all of the lights. It is a memory of scuffling across the carpet in sock feet, stopping in front of the tree, and tentatively reaching out with one finger – waiting, knowing – and watching that single, silvery strand of tinsel leap out to give a slight (sometimes big) electric shock. It is the memory of the smell (before artificial trees) of pine filling the room. It is so many things, and yet today, in 2006, the Christmas tree has become far more than it ever should. It is not an object to fight over, or sue over, or to demand it bear a different name to reflect a multi-cultural society. It is not a Hanukah bush, or a Kwanza tree. It is not a holiday tree. It is a Christmas tree and it should be allowed to remain just that, for time immemorial.

Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good life!!!