By LaKeshia N. Myers
Growing up, I looked forward to our annual church Christmas pageant. At the pageant, children would don their finest holiday apparel, sing holiday favorites and recite Christmas speeches. The service would always end with a theatre-worthy production telling the story of Jesus’ entrance to the world. One year in particular, I remember the choir was excited to sing our rendition of Hezekiah Walker’s “More Than a Holiday”—a song that reminds listeners to, “Keep Jesus in your Christmas, and you’ll always have a happy holiday.” I was reminded of that song last week, when I read in the newspaper that two of my legislative colleagues, placed an artificial Christmas tree in the State Capitol.
While this act may seem meaningless, understand that it was done as an act of defiance toward the governor, who declined to have a Christmas tree in the capitol this year due to COVID-19. The capitol building has been closed to the public since March. It is only open to Capitol police and employees. In years past, a stately evergreen is placed in the rotunda of the Capitol; schoolchildren from across the state decorate ornaments that adorn the tree, and a special lighting ceremony takes place. To underscore the gravity of the pandemic, the governor chose (and wisely so) to forego having a Capitol tree this year; especially since no one from the general public would be able to view it anyway. But, alas,
Republicans could not be outdone, so for the second year in a row, they politicized a Christmas tree.
It is worth noting the antics of last November when an Assembly Joint Resolution made it to the floor, and a roll call vote was requested—the question: renaming the decorated tree on display in the capitol rotunda during the Christmas holiday season as the Wisconsin State Christmas Tree. Luckily, the tomfoolery that occurred in the lower chamber did not see the floor of the senate. Various governors, both Republican and Democrat, have called the tree both a “holiday tree” and a “Christmas tree;” there has been a tree in the rotunda of the Capitol for decades.
There is no need to politicize the obvious. But the necessity of my Republican colleagues to do so speaks volumes. It speaks to an underlying shallowness of their relationship with the Christ they proclaim to love so much. A savior, who came to earth in the form of man to grant us life more abundantly. One whose very essence was to extend charity, alleviate poverty and look out for those with the least in society. Yet, for the past two years, I have witnessed policy after policy that has sought to divide and dismantle Wisconsinites.
When my Jewish colleagues request that Rosh Hashana be listed as a non-workday on the official legislative calendar, it fell on deaf ears. When the Legislative Black Caucus requested that committees not meet on Juneteenth Day, it fell on deaf ears. When the people of this state asked that we be proactive on COVID-19 measures, their request was met with the bare minimum needed to receive federal funding (and even that was too late). When municipalities ask that local control of their school districts be respected, their requests are met with bills aimed at stripping them of funding. I can only wonder, where the spirit of Christ was in these moments.
I can only hope that my Republican colleagues go back and re-read the biblical Christmas story. I hope they realize that this is not just about lights, trees and mistletoe. It is about decency for all humankind, regardless of race, religion, creed or color. The true meaning of Christmas is to embody the spirit of Christ in words and deeds. I hope they understand that Christmas is truly more than a holiday; it is a way of life.
More than a holiday,
more than lights that glitter and shine away.
More than a glistening snow, more than just a mistletoe.
For unto us a child is born, for unto us a Son is given. For unto us Emmanuel has come, a chance for all mankind to be forgiven.
A change in me He’s made, I am saved today,
you see, Christmas to me is more than a holiday.
You see, Christmas to me is more than a holiday.
Keep Jesus in your Christmas and you’ll always have a happy holiday.