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I send you my heartfelt and very sincere good wishes at this very special time of year.

Christmas is a time when many lights are used as visual representations of this most holy season. All you have to do is move down any street and see all the homes so beautifully decorated with colored lights and in many cases seasonal figurines in the yard.

But, as with everything else that deals with the true meaning of Christmas, all reference to the religious element of our great feast is all too often suppressed by the few who seem to have influence to do so. Even the salutation you hear nowadays is not “Merry Christmas” or “holy days,” but “Happy Holidays!!” When people greet me by saying: “Happy Holidays,” I always reply: “And a Happy Christmas to you, too!”

The Santa Maria Times and Orcutt Pioneer have published their Holiday Lights Map. When my children were younger and now with grandchildren, taking an evening drive viewing these festively decorated homes is a great treat. I encourage you to see this spectacular tour. Have you ever wondered about the meaning of the home lighting tradition? Is it so Santa and his reindeer can find their way?

The Christmas lights take their origin from Christ as the light of the world. The first reading for midnight Mass, taken from Isaiah reads: “The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; upon those who dwell in the land of gloom a light has shone.” I suppose if the true meaning and significance of the Christmas lights were known, a law would be enacted to turn off those switches as well.

The Christmas tree seems to have changed its nature as now it is referred to as the “holiday tree.” What if it were publicized that this takes its origin from the tree in the Garden of Eden? What if it were broadcast that the “globes” on the Christmas tree are symbols of the apples on the tree in the Garden of Eden?

Take one step further and consider all those gifts that are given and received at this time. Has this custom not taken its origin from the gifts brought by the Magi to the Christ Child?

So, let us draw the conclusion and follow the only logical option open to us. If Christmas must be banned and all reference to the Feast of Christ and all relationship to it must be rejected, then according to this frame of mind, all the lights should be banned, all trees must disappear, no gifts ought to be bought or exchanged, and as a consequence no cards should be sent and no parties be shared, because all these have their source in the Christ festival. I wonder what the reaction would be from those who sell all these items and make a huge profit. Yes, get rid of Christ, but let’s keep the profits! What hypocrisy! What games are being played with our freedom of religion?

Religious liberty is not merely one right among others but enjoys a certain primacy. It is indeed the first of human rights, not only because it was historically the first to be recognized but also because it touches a core dimension of man, his relationship with his Creator. Let’s Keep Christ in Christmas. We will have many activities this Christmas, and I pray that there will be great participation in church, with family and friends. May you have a very happy and blessed Christmas.

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Trent Benedetti is a long-time local business owner and a board member of the Committee to Improve North County

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