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News Link • Holidays

PRAGER: Where Have All the Christmas Decorations Gone? A Meditation on Joyless Secularism


I grew up in Brooklyn, New York, in an area where most residents were either Italian or Jewish. So many homes had Christmas decorations that you could almost be sure that if the home wasn't decorated, a Jewish family lived in it. And while I was — and remain — a committed Jew, I loved — and still love — those decorated homes. It makes December special.

But today, December is not special in large swathes of America. Secularism has taken its toll. And the lack of color this time of the year compared to decades ago perfectly exemplifies some of its consequences.

Secularism literally and figuratively knocks color out of life.

Without God and religion there is, of course, much to enjoy in life. You can enjoy Bach without believing in God (though Bach would not have composed anything if he didn't believe in God); you can enjoy sports, books, travel and so much more.

But there is a monochromatic character to life without God and religion. And you can literally see it this month. When I compare blocks of homes without Christmas decorations to blocks filled with homes with Christmas decorations, I think of my trips to the Soviet Union and other communist countries. One of the first things that struck any visitor from the West was how gray everything looked. There was essentially no color — just as today's decoration-free homes appear.