Last December, Houston Representative Dwayne Bohac picked up his son from first grade and asked what he'd done in class. His son answered that they'd decorated their "holiday tree" with "holiday ornaments."
This concerned Bohac. "Why do we call it a holiday tree at school, but a Christmas tree at home?" Bohac said.
When he expressed his sentiments to the school district office, he was told the school didn't use terms such as "Christmas" because they were fearful of litigation.
This inspired Bohac to draft House Bill 308, legislation that allows students and teachers to wish each other a "Merry Christmas," "Happy Hanukkah" or (the pretty secular) "Happy Holidays" and to provide teachers the opportunity to educate students on the history of traditional winter holidays.
Governor Rick Perry signed what has become known as the "Merry Christmas bill" last week. In addition to permitting holiday greetings, the legislation also says that schools are allowed to display scenes or symbols associated with winter holidays on school property, such as a Christmas tree or a menorah, as long as there is at least one other religious or secular symbol present as well.
The fact that no one -- no child, no teen, no grown-up -- has ever been sued in Texas for saying "Merry Christmas" apparently didn't lessen any of the glow of this special moment or the driving force behind this bill.