Thursday, November 29, 2007

Family Trees

This is a week or so old now, but hey - who said I had to be current?

I'm bemused by the flap over the 2007 Lowe's catalog and its "family trees". For those of you who missed this, when Lowe's Home Improvement Stores published their 2007 catalog, they had a page or three advertising symmetrical cone-shaped (more or less) objects resembling pine trees, which the catalog labeled "family trees."

Everybody who saw the catalog said, "Hey, those are Christmas trees;"
the American Family Association responded to this with a mass email campaign protesting the wording ("put the Christ back in Christmas" etc. etc.); and Lowe's publicly apologized ("It certainly was not intended to offend anyone.") and republished the catalog, now including "Christmas" trees.

I hardly know where to start here. Lowe's evidently feared, in some spasm of excess political correctness, that it would offend its non-Christian customers if it referred to "Christmas" trees. I've been doing a little research on how many members of various religions live in the United States, and nobody's really sure of any of the numbers, but in various surveys of religious preference over the last few years,
between 70% and 85% of respondents said they were Christian. If you assume this mirrors Lowe's customer base, then in attempting to please roughly 15-30% of their shoppers, they managed to offend the other 70-85%. This strikes me as poor judgment. Not to mention the fact that they looked silly as hell, since the Christmas tree is an instantly recognizable cultural icon and has been for roughly 200 years.

And to finish off their folly, they did this in the Dallas-Fort Worth area (or at least that's where the linked news story was published). This will probably offend any residents of Dallas-Fort Worth who may read this, but it's not an area I associate with, shall we say, non-mainstream religions. I'm sure there are Jews and Muslims and maybe even a few Wiccans in Dallas-Fort Worth, but the vast majority of the population is evangelical. In fact, I'm not sure Catholic isn't considered non-mainstream there.

These numbers also make the American Family Association look a little, um, over-sensitive. Believe me, Christianity is in no danger in the United States. In fact, those of us who believe in the separation of church and state sometimes get a little nervous.

But the real thing that boggled my mind was: in this day and age, who in tarnation would buy a Christmas tree from a catalog?? Delancey Street already has tree lots up all over San Francisco. By next weekend you'll be tripping over pine branches in every parking lot in America. And Lowe's thinks people will order them by mail??


  1. Anonymous6:34 AM

    What boggles my mind is the image of some poor UPS delivery person wrestling the wrapped Xmas tree out of the the brown van and up the driveway, to ring the bell and get your signature confirming delivery.

  2. Well, exactly. And it wouldn't take much of a tree to require the brown van to be replaced with a logging truck. I assure you, in my neighborhood, a logging truck will not be able to navigate the streets...

  3. Anonymous8:38 PM

    The "attack on Christmas" bemoaned by the likes of the American Family Ass. might take the cake for all-time phony issues. But then the televangelists have been working the "Christians under attack" mantra successfully for at least 20 years.

    Separation of church and state folks need to be nervous, very nervous.

    Ten-to-one you can get a solid block of Dallas-Fort Worthers who would agree that the pope is the anti-Christ, never mind Catholicism being non-mainstream.

    'Course I tend to think of all religious orthdoxy as falling somewhere along the scale of kind of retarded (no offense, Stephen, you strike me as far more spiritual - and reasonable - than orthodox. Joe Lieberman is orthodox, and I suspect it is the reason for him being somewhat retarded on some issues - Jimmy Carter, on the other hand, is not orthodox).

    OK, hedera, I'll stop this ramble.

    Anonymous David