This is not Lear railing in futility against the thunder and lightning and rain. … I’ll leave that to the people who are ticked off because Starbucks is not decorating their Grande Strawberry Shortcake Frappuccino Blended Creme with snowflakes and Christmas tree ornaments.

If not having an image of Santa on water skis adorning a hot beverage container constitutes a blitzkrieg against the Prince of Peace, then I guess we shouldn’t worry about the “little stuff,” like what is happening in the region of the Lord’s birth today. Last time I checked snowflakes and snow globes had no canonical standing either before or after Vatican II.

Bemoaning the commercialization of Christmas is not a new phenomenon. It goes back to Victorian England when Christmas celebrations, as we now know them, really took off with people buying and wrapping presents and cutting down perfectly good trees and moving them inside and putting live candles on them. … What were they thinking?

If we want to be grownups about it, we have to stipulate that although St. Nicholas is a beautiful example of Christian love, he has been morphed into an image of Santa Claus that mirrors the imagination of an ad man working for the Coca Cola Company who simply took the image developed by cartoonist Thomas Nast (one of the all time anti-Irish, anti-Catholic public figures in American life) and took it to the next “modern” step, to push soda pop off the shelves. 

And Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer? Sorry, he was commissioned and penned with one objective in mind — to move yuletide inventory for Montgomery Ward.

This is not so much a rant against the so-called war on Christmas rather than an observation of severe cognitive dissonance. Enter the Hollywood Christmas Parade. The good news? They still call it the Hollywood Christmas Parade.

Its pedigree is pure Hollywood as it started in the early 1930s as the Santa Claus Lane Parade. Singing cowboy star Gene Autry was famous for riding his horse in the parade, but during the 60’s and 70’s the parade — like Hollywood itself — fell into disrepair. It was resurrected as the Hollywood Christmas Parade, which it remains.

Kind of the red-headed stepchild of parades, it is a fest for former action TV stars people are always happy to see (relieved that they are still alive) and relegated to the back streets of more over-the-top “holiday” fare, like the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade and the Rose Parade.

This year, the great minds that run the Hollywood Christmas Parade have selected two very interesting Grand Marshals for a parade with the word “Christmas” in it. Penn and Teller are great magicians and great performers.

Though I have never seen them perform live, I have watched many of their television specials and even read a few of their books. They are unique, special talents.

They are also incredibly vocal, well Penn more than Teller, God-denying atheists. I really don’t mean that as an insult and I don’t believe either Penn or Teller would take that as such.

It is more an accurate depiction of their worldview. They have made it plain they are rationalists to the nth degree. They may scoff at religion and sneer ever so slightly toward it, but generally I find their intelligent, if, as far as I’m concerned, faulty premise about a prime mover comes with far less rancor and bile than Bill Maher’s brand of atheism seems to insist upon.

But Penn and Teller as the Grand Marshals of a Christmas Parade?  It is the very definition (see earlier reference) of cognitive dissonance. If there has been an uproar of protest over this choice like there has been over Starbucks coffee cups I haven’t heard it. And I’m not lobbying for one either.

Having lived at a time of a more defined and even isolated Catholicism, and we liked it that way, things like Santa Claus, sleigh bells, reindeers who need to consult an ear nose and throat specialist, were always in a separate category. Our house was decorated with a nativity set, we painted a stable scene on our bay window in the front living room, and there was never a doubt as to the reason for this season.

We even had our own parade in Van Nuys. It was called the Bethlehem Star Parade and it went right down Van Nuys Blvd. It was religiously themed and civically supported, imagine that.

Now my father and uncle boycotted the last several years of the parade due to a flap over my oldest sister getting bumped from the role of the Blessed Mother on the St. Elisabeth Parish float entry, but that’s another story.

The main story is that we kept Christmas because our parents and our parish and our extended families developed traditions that were rooted in the Church’s eternal teachings, and it insulated us from the commercialization process. Though we were just as anxious as anybody to open presents on Christmas morning, we just knew we had to go to Mass first.

So, even though I wish people would say Merry Christmas instead of Happy Holidays, and I wish Penn and Teller — as gifted and talented as they are — would have recused themselves from hosting this schlocky parade, I can live with it, as can anyone else who puts their mind to keeping you-know-who in Christmas.