Gary Horton | No War on Christmas? Who Won?

Gary Horton

I missed the War on Christmas.  

Where did this annual wringing of conservative hands go? Did COVID wipe out the War on Christmas, too? Until just these past few years you could count on talking head War on Christmas teeth gnashing every bit as much as count on Christmas itself.  

I moseyed over to certain to find Fox valiantly defending Christmas from the Liberal Scourge, but no war there to be found. If the War on Christmas isn’t covered on Fox, someone called the war off. This year, there’s not even a Christmas skirmish.  

So, if there’s no War on Christmas, who won? 

“China won,” pops to mind. Post COVID-era plastic junk logistic jam, China’s toy and electronic factories are back up to speed and the Port of L.A. is humming, offloading endless containers filled with goodies for Santa’s sleigh. 

It’s worse than you think. Not only has China preempted virtually everything under your Christmas tree, now they’ve successfully owned the tree itself. Remember those Norman Rockwellian memories of you and yours trudging off to the Christmas tree lot or into the forest to bag the Family Tree? Forget about it. 

For most, those memories are fading fast. This year, over 70% of Americans will reject traditional live trees in favor of the soul-stealing plastic imitations. Worldwide, 400 million will buy fake trees, with 90% of these coming from … China. 

Real trees are a real Christmas casualty. In our family, going to the Boy Scout Troop 104 Christmas Tree lot in Mission Hills was long mandatory for any kind of “real” Christmas. I’d worked at that lot as a Scout growing up, and I remained a loyal patron all the way until our own kids moved out. But eventually, pragmatism and old age dictated yet one more loss of one more tradition and cultural touchstone. These days I trudge not through the mud and rain and bitter California winter to nab my arbor haul; rather, I trudge into the 60-degree freezing garage. 

We bought our last fake tree during the COVID Christmas. Home Depot brought it right to our door, no muss, no fuss, no brave-the-icy-wind-in-your-face tree cutting mess. It’s amazing how much fake tree technology has advanced. Not only are the bulbs LED and never burn out and you don’t have to find the one single burnt bulb that’s killing the entire strand … nowadays, there aren’t light bulb strands to speak of. Most trees come with lights pre-hung, and the tree poles themselves automatically make the electric contacts between sections. 

A complete tree, standing and all lit up, without all the family fighting fun that used to accompany the dragging the sappy, messy thing through halls decked with boughs of holly. At least the ornament wars remain … 

We see progress marches on, cutting down beloved traditions to mere memories. One thing with certain staying power, however, is the transformation of Christmas into a date unto which we count remaining shopping days. We might want a Christmas War over that.  

(As a public service, I remind readers there are only four more shopping days left on this Christmas cycle.) 

In the meantime, like the battles we fight, we pick what traditions we defend. Protect and celebrate what matters to you most. And that’s likely not the type of tree you have, or the goodies under it, or whether you have a tree at all. The most important tradition is the time we thoughtfully share with those we love.  

May we all enjoy a peaceful, purposeful Christmas and holiday season! 

Gary Horton’s “Full Speed to Port!” has appeared in The Signal since 2006. The opinions expressed in his column do not necessarily reflect the opinions of The Signal or its editorial board.

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