Friday, December 5, 2008


I'm going to digress (surprise!) from the Chocolate Show to go on a Christmas rant.

I want to rant because Christmas trees will not be displayed in the two main libraries at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill this year because the library staff thinks "it didn't seem right to celebrate one set of customs when libraries offer information about all belief systems around the world without judgment." I guess the only one they can judge is the Christian one.

Look, let me preface all this by telling you I am one of the least religious people you will run into. I'm not a fan of drawn out prayers (from any religion) at business meetings. I don't go to church - well, the Church of Chocolate. But I love Christmas. I love the candy and the trees and the lights and the Santas. I remember my days at college and I loved when the decorations went up on campus - they were festive and pretty.

I say these politically correct librarians are idiots. If I went into a library in another country and saw decorations displayed from that culture - would I not learn something? Would I not be enriched? If I saw another country's flag flying would I be offended? Are the books in the library offensive because they are in English? Is there a Bible in there? Better get that out quick - someone might be offended! Heck - the Christmas Tree came from a pagan beginning! Can't it just be a festive, holiday decoration? I'm sorry - I just think this is ridiculous. They can't see the beauty for the trees.

So, let's talk about some candy that is breaking tradition. Have you seen all the candy canes out there? Everybody is getting in on this - I saw Bubblicious candy canes, Jolly Rancher candy canes, Jelly Belly candy canes, Dum-Dum candy canes, Life Saver candy canes, Spree candy canes, Sweetarts candy canes, Smarties candy canes, even High School Musical candy canes (what the hell?). And, for us, Wille Wonka Chocolate Flavored Candy Canes in the bi-lingual box. Apparently Willie has a big Spanish speaking following.

Candy cane in Spanish is bastones de dulce. Ole!

Ok - first of all, these are so ugly. They are purple and brown. Not festive.

I wanted to hate them - to tell you they should have never been made. (Nestle makes them, by the way.) But I kind of liked them! And each one only has 50 calories (calorias)! If you like chocolate, want a low calorie treat that no one else will take because they are so ugly - these are for you. (But not for the librarians at UNC - they might be offended.) In fact, I think they should all work on Christmas - isn't it offensive to close the library?

Now Cadbury has an entry. I like the Cadbury eggs - the little candy coated ones (well, I like the big creme filled ones too, but I'm not talking about those. Don't get distracted.). They have much more chocolate in them than M & Ms, their closest competitor in this category. So when I saw the Christmas ones, I was pretty excited.

Okay - something went wrong here. Look at these things! Are they dusty? Did they roll around on the floor of the factory? Do they need to revisit their candy coating process?

Can you say - gross? Again I say, what the hell? Where was quality control? Red and green M & M's in a glass container look great as a decoration. They are shiny - they look delish. I'd be afraid to put these out. Boo!! Give these to the library ladies.

I always love new candy - it is exciting. And even though mint is not my fav, I have always loved the Junior Mint. Low fat - creamy. I have eaten these in many a movie. So when I found these new limited edition inside out Junior Mints, I was excited!!!

These are just terrible. They are like a bad mento filled with some really crappy chocolate like material. Like a chocolate gel - eewww. The Junior Mint is great!!! Tradition!!! These are a blemish on the Junior Mint name and the edition should be limited to as few as possible. BLEECH. Library material.

Now, these are better:

These are just like the traditional Junior Mint, but with some little peppermint sprinkles. I still like the traditional one best because I love its smoothness. But as a holiday offering, these are very festive. And you gotta love that box - very seasonal - would look great in a stocking! And doesn't have any Christian images - the library ladies would be happy. But these you should keep for your friends - the ones who are glad to see decorations for any holiday - and know that the more, the merrier.

Anything that adds beauty to this world is a gift. I hope you get to see much beauty this holiday season. (And get to eat mucho chocolate!)


Heidi said...

I now have a new phrase to describe both mediocrity and cowardice, thanks to you: "Library Lady Material."

The new culture in this country is to water down culture so that no one is offended.

On the flip side, people aren't concerned about offending consumers with their "watered-down," mediocre products.

When will people see that anything watered down deserves to be spit out, period?

Carl Weaver said...

Okay, here's the thing. Those of us who are not Christian have to put up with Christianity forced on us all year long. From Thanksgiving to Christmas, it's rather intense. We don't hate Christians or want to deny anyone their traditions. Yes, the lights are spectacular and Christmas trees are pretty.

But this stuff is everywhere. Stores, malls, offices, libraries, town squares, city hall, homes, neighbors' yards, etc. It's like a guy can't get a break from the insanity of Christmas.

And your argument about seeing other cultures when you go abroad doesn't hold water. This is not a Christian country. This is a multi-faceted, multi-ethnic country.

Religion has been used as a form of oppression for thousands of years - probably since the first two religions met up. Christian symbols are still used this way, although not as frequently as in older times, at least here. Some of us just don't like having to see them everywhere.

The worst part, and I can see it coming, is that expressing these views in itself is considered by many small-headed people to be anti-Christian, anti-Christmas or something equally crazy. It's not that at all.

My father-in-law got the University of Toronto library to open on Christmas because he needed to work on his research and found he had no resources on that day.

Heidi - if you don't like the culture here as it is, it is your duty to change it rather than complain about hos it is. Culture and tradition are best upheld by individuals. Complaining about it does not change anything. The same goes for products. Don't like a "watered-down" product? Let the manufacturer know that you did not like it and will not buy it again if it is not changed.

To call the librarians, who do not even make policy decisions, cowardly, is not right. Even if it were these people who were in charge, is it cowardly to do the unpopular thing you think to be right? No, it's just cowardly to pick on people who do it.

diane said...

I agree with Heidi. That deserves to be spit out. Who put the "library ladies" in charge of decorations anyway? I think the students should decorate their own tree right outside the library in the public space ;) As for me & mine, we will decorate and each chocolate!

Denise Ryan said...

Hey Carl, Thanks for the comments! I guess it just makes me sad that because someone might be offended the solution is to take down a lovely thing (with pagan origins, after all). In this case, according to the news reports, the librarians did make the decision. It will be interesting to see if they also choose to work that day. Somehow I doubt it.

But you make good points and help us all see another side - thanks!!!

Carl Weaver said...

Yeah - it's all about respect and comfort. Just like many Christians would not want to live in a Jewish neighborhood - not out of hatred, but out of comfort - it's hard for the rest of us to live with constant signs reminding us that we are "other."

It is sad to me as well, Denise. I love the spirit of Christmas and think it's great that folks get into decorating but somehow politics always gets mixed in. I don't think the Turks had the right idea when they prohibited public expressions of religion but I think there's somewhere in between that we can all sit together. I am not claiming to know where it is but I believe it is there.

Denise Ryan said...

Carl - well said as always, my friend!!!

Heidi said...

Hi Carl,
I stand by my comments, and yes, I do believe the decision was cowardly. My perspective is that it was made to avoid criticisms such as yours, that Christianity takes over the American landscape each December, and therefore, to avoid any criticism at all, these library ladies took it all down.
It may surprise you to know that I worked in an environment largely atheist for 12 years and as a born-again Christian was most definitely the outsider. I was ridiculed for my beliefs on numerous occasions. However, I never chose to hide them. Hiding my beliefs to avoid criticsm would have been cowardice. I have lived in Jewish neighborhoods. My matron of honor in my wedding was Jewish. One of my best friends is Muslim. I have numerous other friends who are agnostic and atheist.
I love them, but I would never for one moment hide my belief that Jesus is the Son of God, that He loves you, that He died for you, and that Christmas is all about that tremendous story. If anyone is uncomfortable with that, maybe they should examine the reasons for their discomfort.
One other thing on this and then I'll drop it ...
I can bet you that at least one of those women who made the decision go to church.
Wanna bet?
I can bet you, actually, that more than one of them goes to church.
Now who is really the coward? Let's just look at this with a clear eye.
I have no qualms calling a spade a spade, especially because I am willing to be ridiculed for my faith.
And the tree, although pagan in origin, is still symbolic of the celebration of a baby who came to the world to save it. To take it down to avoid conflict ... well ... it's ... hmm, can I say it?