In Tyrone, we call the holiday ‘Christmas’

Tue, 12/26/2006 - 4:09pm
By: Letters to the ...

Re: “Tyrone Xmas parade: Idea not the brightest” by Emily Baldwin.

First off, in Tyrone we don’t refer to it as an “Xmas” parade; we call it a Christmas parade. You know this year Wal-Mart decided it was OK to call Christmas Christmas. You still had room at the top of your article (which was about one-third of a page) to spell Christmas. If someone as big as Wal-Mart can realize their error, maybe next year when you’re invited back you can call it a Christmas parade.

You spent about four paragraphs talking about how dark it got and even at 5:30 you could not get a picture. How frustrated you must have been when you got there and realized that a professional journalists invited to a nighttime parade did not bring the proper equipment or would have issues taking photographs in the dark. There, I got my dig in, because I was a bit ticked by your write-up.

Each year Tyrone has had a Christmas event. This year the town added a parade. I’m glad they did, but somehow you missed the story. You didn’t mention a float dedicated to veterans; several old and young marched; and where I was standing I could see them and they got some well-deserved recognition.

One of the biggest gifts I got this Christmas was a reminder of the sacrifice they and others made and are making so that I am free to celebrate holidays like Christmas.

You also missed the story behind the young children that rode on one of the floats. Tyrone conducted an essay contest on the real meaning of Christmas (not XMAS). I was told 125 children submitted essays, from these were selected some to ride in the parade. What a great memory these children will have about their hometown, and what a great Christmas present the town gave them this year.

From where I stood I not only saw Paul Ossman, I asked him how the weather was. He looked me in the eye and licked his finger, stuck it in the air and said, “Here’s how we do it at the station.” The guy has a good sense of humor and from where I was standing was enjoying it.

You also failed to mention the last floats that were entered by the churches in Tyrone, all full of young children demonstrating that they knew why this day is important.

Emily, Tyrone doesn’t need a Disney parade; no one does. When you look for the story below the surface you will see that Tyrone has created some good Christmas memories this year, and gave some thanks to some deserving people. With all the issues facing folks today that are running a town, someone at Town Hall got it right this Christmas. They made me glad I live in a town that is still trying to give thanks to someone besides themselves. So, Emily, the way I see it, Tyrone really pulled it off after all, didn’t they?

Emily, the folks in Tyrone are wishing you Happy Holidays and a Merry Christmas.

Rick Owens
Tyrone, Ga.

The editor replies: Since it was I who wrote the headline, and since I made a deliberate choice to use the word objected to, I hereby make my defense.

Whatever one’s opinions about staging a parade in pitch dark, the letter writer is simply uninformed about the ancient origins of a very proper noun — Xmas. According to Wikipedia, “The Oxford English Dictionary documents the use of this abbreviation back to 1551, 50 years before the first English colonists came to North America and 60 years before the King James Version of the Bible was completed.”

Further, “The word ‘Christ’ and its compounds, including ‘Christmas’ have been abbreviated for at least the past 1,000 years long before the modern ‘Xmas’ was commonly used. ‘Christ’ was often written as ‘XP’ or ‘Xt’; there are references in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle as far back as 1021 AD. This X and P arose as the uppercase forms of the Greek letters chi () and rho (), used in ancient abbreviations for Christos (Greek for “Christ” “the anointed one”), and are still widely seen in many Eastern Orthodox icons depicting Jesus Christ.”

From the Catholic Encyclopedia: “By the Monogram of Christ is ordinarily understood the abbreviation of Christ’s name formed by combining the first two letters of the Greek form ... this monogram was also known as the Chrismon. There are, however, besides this type of monogram, two other monograms of Christ — one of His name, Jesus, the other of both His names together. The most common form (that first alluded to), was adopted by Constantine the Great on his military standards (circa 274-337 AD). The emblem or monogram representing the Holy Name of Jesus consists of the three letters: IHS. In the Middle Ages the Name of Jesus was written: IHESUS; the monogram contains the first and last letter of the Holy Name. It is first found on a gold coin of the eight century: DN IHS CHS REX REGNANTIUM (The Lord Jesus Christ, King of Kings).”

Jesus was well-known to Christians of the first five centuries after His resurrection as “” — the first two Greek letters of our Lord’s Father-given title — a half millennium before there was an English language that transliterated the Greek letters into the relatively recent form we would now recognize as “Christ” in our comparatively young native tongue. (Another fact: the Greek form itself was a then-modern form of the original Hebrew “Messiah.”)

Like it, don’t like it: the fact remains that Xmas is an ancient, proper, respectful rendering of a holy day far older than our country, our culture, our language and our reader’s objections.

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