Halloween is not even here yet (less than a week and counting) and already Christmas and other Holiday decorations are making their way onto some of the larger retailer’s floors. ‘Tis the season, so to speak, which means it’s also time for all those inevitable news stories to begin popping up about how this group or that individual is taking issue with the way in which others choose to celebrate their holidays in public.

These stories tend to focus on Christmas or Hanukkah, or other religious-based holidays. Even Halloween, which most of us equate with costumes, candy, and trick-or-treat (but which is really a religious holiday, too) is not immune, especially this year. Already, I’ve seen numerous reports on the national news about how Halloween celebrations are being banned from schools and other public venues. They’re being labeled as too disruptive, too “divisive” (some kids feel left out because they can’t afford expensive costumes), etc.

Now I can remember looking forward to all the great costumes and fun of Halloween when I was a kid. I think a lot of people still do. It never seemed divisive or terribly disruptive to me.

Back then, we anticipated not only all the sugary treats sure to come our way, but the spectacle of those who used their imaginations to put on their best ghostly or ghoulish faces. And it wasn’t limited to just the students. Teachers dressed up, administrative staff, even the principal. It was just a fun way for everyone at school to come together and share some lighthearted moments. I don’t ever recall it being anything but that, yet now the practice seems too controversial to continue. Ditto for Thanksgiving and Christmas.

What gives?

Of course, this got me to thinking that I should write this week’s blog on how “maybe we should all just lighten up a little,” when I remembered something from a few years back that appeared on the CBS Sunday Morning News. Ben Stein (is there anyone over 40 who doesn’t remember him as the world’s most boring teach in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off?), a respected lawyer, presidential speechwriter, commentator, and game show host, was the guest of Charles Osgood. They were discussing how the observance of Christmas was under attack. Mr. Stein offered this food for thought we could (and in my humble opinion should) apply to all Holidays.

“I am a Jew, and every single one of my ancestors was Jewish. And it does not bother me even a little bit when people call those beautiful lit up, bejeweled trees ‘Christmas trees.’ I don’t feel threatened. I don’t feel discriminated against. That’s what they are: Christmas trees. It doesn’t bother me a bit when people say, ‘Merry Christmas’ to me. I don’t think they are slighting me or getting ready to put me in a ghetto. In fact, I kind of like it. It shows that we are all brothers and sisters celebrating this happy time of year.

“It doesn’t bother me at all that there is a manger scene on display at a key intersection near my beach house in Malibu. If people want a crèche, it’s just as fine with me as is the Menorah a few hundred yards away.

“I don’t like getting pushed around for being a Jew and I don’t think Christians like getting pushed around for being Christians. I think people who believe in God are sick and tired of getting pushed around, period. I have no idea where the concept came from that America is an explicitly atheist country. I can’t find it in the Constitution and I don’t like it being shoved down my throat.

“Or maybe I can put it another way: where did the idea come from that we should worship (celebrities) and we aren’t allowed to worship God as we understand Him?

“I guess that’s a sign that I’m getting old, too. But there are a lot of us who are wondering where (these celebrities) came from and where the America we knew went to.”

What’s your take on this? Am I just being too insensitive  . . . or do we all need to lighten up a little? Share your thoughts and comments here.

QUICK HIT—WOW! More than 340 people attended ProductCamp SoCal 2011 on October 15 at Mihaylo Hall (Cal State Fullerton). This was a great opportunity to connect with other marketers, share insights, and make new friends and connections. I came away from the event enlightened . . . and with a few new leads. Feeling great that Barrel O’Monkeyz was able to help sponsor and make this the best ProductCamp SoCal yet.