I know I’m a little late to the game on this one, but this has been nagging at me for several days now. Just a bit.
This Christmas Day was not what I expected. My grown adult children are home and I wanted everything to be just wonderful. It was the opposite. I woke up feeling like I might be coming down with the flu or a bug or something. So after making sure that the stockings were filled and everything was set for brunch, I went back to bed. I woke 3 hours later, feeling horrible, but refused to let whatever this was ruin the day. After all, according to one popular cold and flu medicine commercial “Mom’s don’t take sick days” (Nyquil).
Finally, the “kids” got up and we did gifts, but my heart or stomach wasn’t into this. When the gift exchanging was over, I cried because I knew that I was just not going to be able to assume the command of the kitchen to host the grandparents, and Christmas was just not going to be the joyous celebration of the birth of Christ I had hoped it would be. My instruction to my husband, as I headed back up to bed “Don’t dry out the ham . . . Thanks, Honey . . . I’m sorry.”
A couple of hours later, my daughter entered my bedroom to find me curled up in a ball, holding my side. “Mom, you need to go to the ER. It might be your appendix.”
“No, this is just the flu or something. I’ll be alright.”
Well, it wasn’t alright and after agreeing to go to the local hospital, I found myself being rushed by ambulance to another hospital that actually had a surgical staff waiting for me.
This was my appendix after all.
Early the next morning, I was wide awake and decided to check some of the latest news stories. Yeah, I know. Kind of crazy, but hey! I am a budding communications pro, right?
Well, the very first trending story to pop up on Facebook and Twitter was this:
But, the trend was that people were irate about it. Oh, dear. What now? I wondered. Instead of reading the posts and tweets, I checked out the message first.
I guess the RNC and I didn’t get the Christmas we were expecting, did we?
“Merry Christmas to all! Over two millennia ago, a new hope was born into the world, a Savior who would offer the promise of salvation to all mankind. Just as the three wise men did on that night, this Christmas heralds a time to celebrate the good news of a new King. We hope Americans celebrating Christmas today will enjoy a day of festivities and a renewed closeness with family and friends.
“Even as we celebrate, we must also remember those among us who are less fortunate. Many on this day are without hope, and need the kindness and compassion of those around them. It is our prayer we will rise to meet the material, emotional, and spiritual needs of individuals all around us, and what better day is there to love our fellow man than today?
“As we open presents, enjoy Christmas dinner, and celebrate our own family traditions, we are mindful of our men and women in uniform. Many are stationed around the world today protecting our freedoms, and cannot be with their own spouses, children, parents, and siblings. We express the deepest gratitude for service that takes them away from celebrating with loved ones, and we ought to remember them in our thoughts and prayers not just on Christmas Day, but the whole year round.”
At first glance, it didn’t seem that bad, but then I read it again. Using my etymology skills, it didn’t take me long to discover that two little words were the problem.
This and just.
In the first paragraph, “this” was used as a modifier for “Christmas” and connected two similes.
“Over two millennia ago, a new hope was born into the world, a Savior who would offer the promise of salvation to all mankind.”
Nice. A true Christmas message. But wait for it.
“Just as the three wise men did on that night, this Christmas heralds a time to celebrate the good news of a new King.”
Uh, oh. Did I re-read that correctly, or is it the pain medication? Nope, I read it right.
Aside from having the actual Christmas story wrong (the proverbial wise men did not arrive on the night of the birth of Jesus), and never mind that this sentence shouldn’t have even been in there in the first place, it would have read a lot differently if those two words had been left out.
It would have read like a Christmas Eve or Epiphany service in a Christian church.
But by using “just” and “this”, the context was totally changed.
Not once in the RNC’s message was President Elect Trump’s name mentioned, but by adding “just and “this” to the message, people drew the conclusion that the RNC was likening present day Trump to long ago Christ.
That’s because “just” and “this” are two words that express a present tense. When you start a phrase with “just”, it usually means that you are going to compare something that happened in the past with something in the present. When you add “this” it reinforces that present tense.
By adding “just” and “this” it’s totally comprehensible that people could see that the RNC meant to liken Trump to Christ, despite the RNC’s denial.
Think before you release
I doubt very many people got past the first paragraph to see the message of hope, love, charity and appreciation in the two others. That’s a shame. If that sentence had been left out of the press release, I doubt that many could find much fault in the message.
I honestly don’t know what the RNC was thinking. Did they not think, re-re-read before they issued the press release? I doubt it.
If they had, they might have been able to catch the problem of “Just” and “this” before releasing it to the public, averting the Christmas social media rage. My advice to future press secretary Sean Spicer is to start getting in the practice of proofing what is written and spoken. A little checking goes a long way in avoiding a public relations mishap.
But this is just my opinion.
Thanks for following. I am working on my Top 10 Best PR/Marketing stories of 2016. I hope to be able to finish by Saturday. But first I need another nap.
See you soon!