James Lambert
Chase snubs a Christmas tradition -- opting for political correctness instead
By James Lambert
December 15, 2010

Several weeks ago, a local controversy brewed in Texas when a customer of the Southlake (Texas) branch of JP Morgan Chase offered to give a Christmas tree to his community bank to be displayed in their lobby. Executives of the bank told their customer that it was the policy of the bank of not accepting (decoration) gifts for its branches. Within a few days the bank's decision was discussed on several national talk radio shows including those of radio host's Mike Gallagher (www.Mikeonline.com) and Mark Levin (www.MarkLevinshow.com). Apparently once the New York based bank's executives realized the negative publicity it was receiving, it was decided that the tree would be allowed to be displayed in this one Southlake (Texas) lobby of the bank after all.

By then the damage was done. Nevertheless, the bank still enforces a strict policy of not allowing Christmas trees in its lobby even though their corporate headquarters displays a Christmas tree at their New York headquarters each Christmas season. Apparently, no customer was offended at the corporate office, were they?

What I can't understand is — why is a decoration such as a Christmas tree offensive? What would cause executives like CEO Jamie Dimon to be so sensitive to political correctness that he and his staff wouldn't allow a simple Christmas tree to be placed in many of their branch's lobbies? Advertising firms tell us that the vast majority (90+ %) of Americans observe the Christmas holiday yet why all the fuss from Chase's top executives?

As a kid, I use to enjoy seeing the bright, well lit Christmas tree this time of year. A decorated Christmas tree reminded us of a time of year that is filled with hope and good cheer. As a young boy I got a kick out of the large Christmas bulbs my parents placed on the flocked tree they purchased each year. In fact, I vividly remember a La Jolla (CA.) bank where, as a teenage coin collector, I use to go through rolls of dimes to try to find Mercury silver dimes every Friday after school. It was in that old building where the bank (Southern California 1st National Bank) displayed a large Christmas tree every December. It was a wonderful tradition. Kids loved to see it on display.

Similar large, decorated trees would be placed in other banks all over town during the Christmas holiday including the locally owned (from 1889 to 1994) San Diego Trust and Savings Bank where having a Christmas tree each December was a holiday tradition.

Chase Bank seems to be opting for 'political correctness' instead of following common sense when it comes to relating to their customers. However, don't be mislead, like I was, to think that other banks no longer allow Christmas trees in their lobby too. I was assured by one Chase employee who was "100 % sure" that other banks don't allow Christmas trees in their lobby also. It didn't take me long to walk down the main street in La Jolla to find two banks (US Bank and Wells Fargo), within 100 yards of the Chase office, that still allow Christmas trees in their branch lobbies. Remember this coming from a community (La Jolla) where the title for the annual 'Christmas parade' is currently being challenged by a college Professor and an environmentalist advocate. Apparently this "group" (as the local San Diego newspaper called them) would like the parade to be re-named the La Jolla 'Holiday parade.'

Finally, I decided to show my appreciation to these two banks (US Bank & WFB) for allowing Christmas trees in their lobby by thanking their managers for valuing our Christmas holiday tradition. While some talk radio personalities were asking Chase customers to close their accounts because of their policy, I believe it is best for each one of us to speak out when we see political correctness replacing common sense around the country.

Some traditions (like celebrating — excuse the word Christmas to my pc friends — and its meaning) are still good for a country that was founded 200 + hundred years ago on Judea-Christian principals.

© James Lambert


The views expressed by RenewAmerica columnists are their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of RenewAmerica or its affiliates.
(See RenewAmerica's publishing standards.)

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James Lambert

James Lambert has a broad business background. After receiving his undergraduate degree from Linfield College (McMinnville, Oregon), Lambert pursued a career in banking by working in various management capacities for Crocker Bank, San Diego Trust & Savings Bank and First Interstate Bank (between 1973 and 1995). By 1990 Lambert received his Master in Business Administration from National University (San Diego). For 3 years, Lambert also taught Finance at Mira Costa Community College... (more)


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