Making it a banner Christmas

It’s that most wonderful time of the year – when conservatives lament the ever-escalating “war on Christmas” and liberals/progressives ridicule the very idea that any such movement exists.

The most recent skirmish in this ongoing cultural battle was waged early this month in Southlake, Tex., a suburban community northwest of Fort Worth. The local branch of a major national bank had been given a beautiful 9-foot Christmas tree by one of its business banking customers. Caught up in the spirit of the season, a successful local businessman bought a tree, had it decorated from top to bottom and then installed in the lobby of the bank for all to enjoy.

Two days later, however, things were not so merry. An edict was delivered to the Southlake bank branch from its east coast headquarters that essentially said, “Ho, ho, ho. The tree’s gotta go!” Much to the distress and frustration of the overwhelming majority of the bank’s patrons, the tree was removed with Scrooge-like thoroughness and speed. Apparently, ‘tis better to offend most of the citizens of any given town rather than risk the wrath of the Christiphobic Grinches at the ACLU.

Thankfully, there is a touching contrast to this recurring Christmas clash that can be seen right here in the Crescenta Valley. Just off the 210 freeway, smack dab at the end of the eastbound offramp to Angeles Crest Highway, there is a multi-story building that’s the home office of The Allen Lund Company, a national transportation broker.

From the offramp, make a right turn onto Angeles Crest, drive past the front of the Lund Company building and look up. You’ll see a ginormous banner hanging down the side of the building. Printed on the banner in vivid colors is a painting of the three wise men of Biblical fame along with the words, “O, Come Let Us Adore Him.” Not “Happy Holidays.” Not “Season’s Greetings.”

In talking with Allen Lund, the company’s founder and president, he told me he orders a different Christmas banner for his building each year. So does he have a huge attic to store the banners from past years? Not hardly. Being as charitable as he is devout, he pays them forward. “I send this year’s down to St. Francis [high school], then they rotate the one from last year over to St. Bede’s [church] and they send theirs to Assumption Parish,” explained Mr. Lund, who not only donates the banners to the Catholic organizations, but also arranges to have them installed.

Public reaction to the overtly sacred banners has been “99.9% positive,” according to Lund. “I’ve had a few negative comments over the years; maybe a couple of letters,” he says. “You’re never going to make everybody happy, though.”

A true American success story, Lund started his company in 1976 and moved it to La Cañada in 1980. He says the tradition of flying a Christmas banner actually began with a large sign hung in support of U.S. troops during the first Gulf War. “Then we thought, why don’t we put one up for Christmas?” he says. The firm, which now has over 300 employees in 30 offices across 22 states, has been celebrating Christmas seasons with colorful banners proclaiming the ‘reason for the season’ ever since.

Lund, who was honored as 2008 Businessperson of the Year by the La Cañada Flintridge Chamber of Commerce, says the banners serve a purpose. “I just want to stop and remind people what the season is really all about. I hope the town enjoys it – or at least more people enjoy it than don’t!”

The Allen Lund Company building doesn’t have a lobby, per se. But if it did, I’m sure it would feature a tall, beautifully lit Christmas tree during this season of wonder and hope. And I happen to know of a tree out in Southlake, Tex. that could be had for a song. Say, “Oh, Come All Ye Faithful” perhaps?

I’ll see you ‘round town.