Christmas Celebrations

Happy holidays to all.
— Clay S. Jenkinson portraying Thomas Jefferson

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The following is a rush transcript.

DS: 00:00 Good day citizens, and welcome to What Would Jefferson Do?, our weekly opportunity to discuss current American events with President Thomas Jefferson who is seated across from me now. Good day to you, Mr Jefferson.

CSJ as TJ: 00:15 Good day to you, citizen.

DS: 00:16 Mr Jefferson, Americans are about to celebrate Christmas in whatever way they choose. And I know that you chose not to really celebrate Christmas. Is that accurate?

CSJ as TJ: 00:29 That is accurate. I mean no disrespect. Of course. People are entitled to celebrate whatever they please privately, but I'm a deist and a skeptic and a rationalist and I do not believe that there can be any compelling proof that Jesus was born on the 25th of December and I regard Christmas as a Saints day. Just as we have St Michael's Day or St Christopher's Day in the Catholic tradition. And I believe that in our rational society such things are no longer very central to the way we see the world.

DS: 01:07 May I stop you there before I'm compelled to say Bah Humbug, Mr. President. But when you were younger, you did celebrate Christmas. In fact, I think you shared a story with me about sleeping in an attic and rats, if I

CSJ as TJ: 01:21 went to friend's houses, we all, the holiday season is an important time.

CSJ as TJ: 01:27 Nobody doubts that the period in the midwinter between November and January is an important time because it was.

DS: 01:37 As a young man, you did celebrate.

CSJ as TJ: 01:39 Well, I didn't celebrate Christmas per se, but I was part of a Christmas celebration. Let's put it that way.

DS: 01:44 Mincing words.

CSJ as TJ: 01:45 I'm not really because I'm not. I have to say I do not celebrate the Feast Day of Christ, but I went to this house party and I was up in the attic and I thought I was fine and rain came in and destroyed a beautiful silhouette of a girlfriend of mine and a watch case that I put down thinking that it wouldn't leak, the roof. And then rats came and stole minuets, sheet music that I had and took them, chewed them and took them back, I suppose to, you know, the whatever nest they had in that attic. So it was quite a night. Waking up.

CSJ as TJ: 02:23 And you listened to rats scurrying around over your body and making noise and they steal your music and then you wake up the following morning and discover that it leaked through the roof and the and that this your watch, which is a valuable item in my time, has been hurt, but worse, infinitely worse. Horror. As I said, the silhouette of this beautiful woman that I was courting had been ruined. When I tried to extricate the silhouette, the, it fell to a thousand pieces. So that was, that was a Christmas. You know, who was there? Patrick Henry. Patrick Henry was there. He was from the West country. He was this young man, a merchant and a rising figure in Virginia life. He was a fiddler. He played the violin and everyone loved Henry. You know, he was one of those people that people just gather around for the stories, for the pronouncements, for the humor, the laughter of the music that he made. He was charismatic and I was the shy retired, scholarly young man afraid of his own shadow really. And I looked upon this extraordinary presence, Patrick Henry, with awe.

DS: 03:29 But it was sort of a Christmas gathering was it not?

CSJ as TJ: 03:33 You're going to insist until I allow it.

DS: 03:36 Just say, not to challenge you too much Mr Jefferson, but I share your, share your feelings on the holiday. I have a tendency to not celebrate the way most Americans in my time do, but I also understand that it's very important to many Americans to enjoy Christmas, to use it as a time to, as you say, feast, but to acknowledge family and relatives and perhaps stand back and take a look at it. The good things that we have.

CSJ as TJ: 04:06 Oh, of course. And I, and I'm glad for people to have that.

DS: 04:09 You wouldn't begrudge them that.

CSJ as TJ: 04:10 I don't begrudge it. I would not make it a federal holiday. I can tell.

DS: 04:14 Well, like what difference does it make?

CSJ as TJ: 04:16 It makes a great deal of difference because if you allow Christmas to be a federal holiday, you are establishing Catholic Christianity as the official endorsed religion of the land that excludes Muslims and Jews and certain types of Protestants or deists and atheists. And so I'm happy for you to celebrate Christmas, but it's a private matter. It should never be a public holiday in the nation that believes in religious diversity.

DS: 04:43 Well, I understand that Mr President. But would you join with me and wishing everyone a happy Christmas, sir?

CSJ as TJ: 04:50 Of course. Happy holidays to all. But let us think about the new year. That's a holiday.

DS: 04:55 Very good. Thank you very much, Mr Jefferson.

CSJ as TJ: 04:57 You are most welcome sir.

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