Brewer: Holiday tree out, Christmas tree in - East Valley Tribune: Arizona

Brewer: Holiday tree out, Christmas tree in

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Posted: Friday, November 13, 2009 8:13 pm | Updated: 12:50 am, Sat Oct 8, 2011.

The war by the governor's office against Christmas is over.

Christmas won.

And, for that matter, so did Chanukah.

For the first time in years, the state is going to have an official "Christmas tree" in the lobby of the executive tower.

There has, in fact, been an evergreen presence in the lobby annually.

But Janet Napolitano, who was governor through this past Christmas, repeatedly refused to link its presence there directly with the Dec. 25 holiday. She instead dubbed it the state's "holiday tree."

What holiday did Napolitano believe the tree symbolizes?

"I think we're celebrating a number of holidays," Napolitano told Capitol Media Services when the subject came up two years ago. She conceded that only Christianity has a holiday associated with a tree.

And Napolitano refused to provide a name for the other display in the lobby: a candle holder equipped to handle nine candles.

But Gov. Jan Brewer on Friday said she was having no part of those word games.

"We're going to have a Christmas tree in the Capitol," said Brewer, whose duties include lighting the tree every year. "That's what it is."

She said it is a celebration of Christmas. Anyway, Brewer continued, "that's what I have called it my whole life."

Brewer also said she intends to call the display with the candles by the name it has in Judaism: a menorah.

And what of political correctness?

"I think it's politically correct to call something what it is," she said. "It's a Christmas tree. And it's a menorah."

What it isn't, the governor said, is a "seasonal decoration."

Napolitano's beliefs about trying not to offend began even before voters elected her governor in 2002.

When she was state attorney general, her office put out a memo listing "acceptable seasonal decorations" in common areas.

They included snowflakes, icicles, garlands, poinsettia plants and wrapped presents - but not trees under which gifts could be placed. And Santa himself was persona non grata.

Napolitano said at that time the memo was crafted by a staffer, without her input, and appeared to be "overkill." But she said some restrictions were appropriate for an office where people go to file discrimination complaints.

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