The Big Picture

Patrick Goldstein and James Rainey
on entertainment and media

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The War on Christmas is a losing battle

December 20, 2010 | 12:32 pm

Santa I know that Fox News loves to stoke the culture wars every year by insisting that elitist liberals are waging a Grinch-like war on Christmas, citing all sorts of examples of odious secularists promoting the idea of replacing a hearty "Merry Christmas" with a pallid "Happy Holidays." Now Sen. Jon Kyl of Arizona has raised the ante, claiming that the Senate couldn't possibly stick around in Washington and vote on that silly START treaty without, as he put it the other day, "disrespecting one of the two holiest of holidays for Christians."

I guess I've thrown in with Sen. Kyl, since I've already left town to spend the Christmas holidays down in Miami -- I'm certainly not going to disrespect the holiday by doing any more serious work. Miami is always loaded with Christmas spirit. After all, it's so sunny, warm and breezy here that legend has it that Santa Claus always spends a few weeks hanging out on South Beach after he's completed his annual toy distribution drive, soaking up some rays and catching a few Heat games.

I plan on following Santa's example. In my family, we've already celebrated Hannukah as well as the Dutch Christmas, which hails the arrival of Sinterklaas on Dec. 6, the eve of St. Nicholas Day. Having a lively Christmas dinner in Miami (where it's warm enough to eat outdoors) will complete the hat trick. While I'm away, my colleague, Jim Rainey, will be posting on the blog for the rest of this week. I'll be back after New Year's.

That only leaves time for one quick Miami Christmas story, which should give you an idea of why this city is such a special place. After I returned to town a couple of years ago, I found the Miami Herald covering the story of a missing Baby Jesus statue, which had been stolen from a Nativity display in Bal Harbour, even though it was bolted to the display platform. After news of the theft surfaced, a civil attorney from Cincinnati -- a Jewish man who celebrates Hanukkah -- ponied up to replace the figurine.

In true Miami Christmas spirit, the Baby Jesus statue now comes equipped with a GPS tracking device, which will help police locate any criminal who tries to pull off such a heinous robbery in the future. I guess if you were trying to capture the spirit of Christmas here in South Florida, the motto would be: Trust, but verify. At any rate, have a Merry Christmas and thanks for taking an interest in reading our blog.

-- Patrick Goldstein    

Photo: Santa (a.k.a. Spencer Slate, owner of a dive shop) snorkels with a goliath grouper in the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary last week. Credit: Bob Care /Associated Press