Dear Abeille, I am writing in response to your advice to the family that is bothered when neighbors ask why they don’t have a Christmas tree.
My family do not consider ourselves Christian. We do have a tree because the tree is a symbol of many religions, including Faith in Equality and Nature. This isn’t actually a formal organized religion, but it’s what my husband and I put down on forms (“F.E.N.”) when asked.
We tell our children that although we don’t believe in Santa Claus, we consider him a great prophet.
We find that having a nice big tree in the living room by the picture window makes us fit in with the neighbors here in Rowayton, Connecticut. Also it gives us a place to hang ornaments people give us. When the children have their little friends over to play Candyland or Mr. Potato Head, no one asks why we don’t have a tree. Because we DO have a tree! Only instead of hanging a star at the top we have a beautiful effigy of the Reverend Doctor Martin Luther King, Junior.
You don’t have to be Christian to have a Christmas tree!
Name Withheld by Request
Dear Name Withheld: Thank you so much for your letter. I’m sure it will be of interest to many people. Happy Holidays.
Dear Abeille, While cleaning out some old newspapers in the attic I found myself fascinated by old columns of yours. One in particular caught my eye. A lady was writing to say that she and her husband had been happily married for many years, and her husband likes to dress up in various “female” outfits, such as a French maid or Pan Am stewardess. In your reply you say that her husband is obviously a pervert! In addition, this lady says one of her sons is a homosexual, and she is mad because in your column you often say homosexuals suffer from mental illness. Abeille, how could you write something like this? My husband is a little bit kinky himself, and I think my 12-year-old son is going to be gay. I am very hurt and concerned you would think this way.
Concerned in Chicago
Dear Concerned: I wrote that column in 1958, when I wore a tight girdle, pointy bra, spike heels and a circle pin. Times change, and so do fashions.
Dear Abeille, In the past you’ve printed a column in answer to people who hate Jews. Could you please reprint it? I believe it is very relevant today.
Shrugging in Scarsdale
Dear Shrugging: Gladly! This is one of my most-requested columns, and also a personal favorite of mine! Here it is:
For people who don’t like Jews, they should ask themselves if they are also opposed to nuclear bombs and the polio vaccine and psychoanalysis. For all these things that make the modern world “the place to be” were invented by Jewish people! Also think of all the great Jewish musicians: Vladimir Horowitz, and Arnold Schoenberg, and Harry Ruby. And where would our Justice System be without such brilliant minds as Cardozo and Brandeis and Goldberg?
Dore Schary, former head of MGM and now Executive Director of the Anti-Defamation League of B’nai B’rith, said it best: “Prejudice is a mental illness. We cannot wipe it out overnight, but we can see to it that those who transmit this virulent toxin are permanently institutionalized.”
Mr. Schary is a very smart man and we should heed his words!