By Dee DeQuattro
If initially the Governor had called the tree inside the State House a “State House Tree” instead of a “holiday tree” or “Christmas tree” there would likely have been much less controversy.
Chafee almost suggested the idea himself when he noted that the President calls the tree in the Whitehouse a “Whitehouse Tree,” on the O’Reilly Factor last week. Although O’Reilly could barely wait to prove him wrong, referencing a clip of President Obama calling it a Christmas tree, the concept is still an interesting one.
Would people be so upset if Chafee has invited the public to the lighting of the “State House” tree? That is what it is, isn’t it? It is literally a tree inside the State House. To the majority, as last year’s Brown University poll revealed, it may be a Christmas tree; to others it may be a holiday tree, or a yule tree to celebrate the winter solstice.
The tree doesn’t need one name. It could just be the State House tree, where we all gather to celebrate the season. While you are celebrating Christmas another could be celebrating Hanukah but regardless of what you celebrate, the true joy is that we all meet together during the “State House” tree lighting.
A name is truly a name and to each his own. Rhode Islanders who prefer Christmas should be allowed to embrace the tree as a Christmas tree while others should be able to embrace the tree as a holiday tree. In the midst of the angry debate over a tree, which I will now call the “State House” tree for purposes of this blog, we are losing site of the spirit of the season.
No matter which religion you embrace the idea of the “Holiday season” is joy and goodwill. December is a very special month that has a lot of different feelings for everyone but when it comes down to it there is one thing we can agree on the season is one of good spirit and charity. It is a time to embrace your fellow man and open your heart. It’s a time for family, friends, and giving. It is a time to open your hearts and lives to those less fortunate. In Rhode Island, it’s a time where you let the other driver go while waiting in traffic even though you typically (as a Rhode Island driver) would drive more aggressively.
No matter what you celebrate, the magic of the season is not lost. It’s a time when people smile, leave a generous tip, help out at a soup kitchen, donate to the Salvation Army, forgive a grudge, help a friend, and be thankful. The season is more than a tree. It’s more than Christmas. It’s about goodness and togetherness.
Although the “State House” tree has already been lit in the midst of a controversy brewing on both sides, I implore you to take a step back and remember what the season is about.
Some believe that it was wrong for Governor Chafee to lite the tree so suddenly or for him to call it a “holiday tree,” but what is done, is done. It is the season of forgiveness and embracing your brother man. It’s time for Rhode Islanders to take a step back from their own religious or secular beliefs and embrace the true spirit of the season. Rhode Islanders can come together and celebrate life and each other regardless of what the tree in the State House is called and for the joy of the holiday season, they should.
William Shakespeare’s Juliet says, "What's in a name? That which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet…” So I ask you: “What’s in a name, that which we call a tree…”
Dee DeQuattro covers news and politics for 630wpro.com for more political commentary see her "Digging Deeper" blog. Follow her on twitter @DeeDeQuattro