We can still say Merry Christmas, in Texas

Bells were jingling in the Texas statehouse late last week when a bill was signed into law by Gov. Rick Perry that would make sure Christmas, and other religious ideals could be observed in the state’s public schools.

It was passed by both the state’s House and Senate, apparently only within about a week.

Essentially, the law attempts to remove any legal risk from people saying “Merry Christmas” while in a school environment. In other words, teachers and students would be free to offer the holiday greeting without fear of any repercussions.

In addition, traditional holiday symbols, such as a menorah or a nativity scene, also could be put on display at the school as long as at least one other religious symbol and a secular symbol also are on display.

I’ve not necessarily been a fan of Gov. Perry. He didn’t impress me during the presidential campaign, and some of his ideas just didn’t mesh well for me.

But, this is a case where I can at least applaud him and the legislature in Texas for the effort.

I’m not entirely sure this law won’t face any kind of legal battle. In fact, if it does, I’m almost certain it will end up going before the U.S. Supreme Court at some point.

But, I like the idea. It makes sense on some level.

That’s part of our problem these days. We’ve allowed ourselves to become so touchy and politically correct that we don’t take the time to stop and think before opening our mouths.

Is a nativity sitting in front of a particular building really going to affect your life that much? I would hope not. I would hope, there are still people in this world who would see such a display, and if they don’t practice that particular religion, they simply go right by and continue to live their lives as they normally would.

When I was in grade school, there were a couple classmates who didn’t observe Christmas, or any other holiday for that matter.

At that young age, I didn’t fully understand why they didn’t exchange Christmas gifts or Valentine’s Day cards or take part in Easter egg hunts. Ultimately, though, they were still my friends and none of that mattered.

I think most kids are the same way. They learn to be afraid or angry from us.

We need to start looking inside ourselves more and think about how we would feel if we were in that other person’s position. We need to try and have a little more understanding for each other.

When it’s time for the holidays (a little more than six months away) I wish people a Merry Christmas. If they correct me by saying they don’t observe, I try to say something else, whether it’s Happy Hannukah, or simply “Have a nice weekend.”

We shouldn’t have a society where we are so afraid of lawsuits or the government coming after us, that we shrink back from observing our own beliefs or traditions.

Coming home from a weekend trip a few years ago, I noticed a Christmas tree standing just beyond the security gate of one of our nation’s busiest airports. Right next to it was a menorah. There’s nothing wrong with that.

Unfortunately, there are those who would throw a fit because both of those symbols were there.

We, as a supposedly civilized people, should be able to respect each other enough to not say or do something to someone else just because they don’t have the same beliefs as we do.

Instead, we’re scared. We’ve become angry and hurtful. We file lawsuits just to try and prove a point, even if there are others who agree with the display of the symbol, the verse of scripture, the use of a holiday greeting, etc.

We should be able to openly wish someone a Merry Christmas, or a Happy Hannukah, or a Happy Kwanzaa, or smile and tell someone to have a nice weekend or day off without the fear that person will come after us for doing so.

I have hope for a better future, where such ideals become the norm instead of the irregular.

Until then, it’s nice to know there will be some place where it will still be OK?to wish someone a Merry Christmas, at least for a little while.

(Howell, a resident of Colliers, is managing editor of The Weirton Daily Times, and can be contacted at chowell@weirtondailytimes.com or followed on Twitter @CHowellWDT)