Grace Paley (1922–2007) was an American short story writer, poet, and activist. She was the youngest of three children born to Ukrainian Jewish immigrants. Paley studied briefly at both Hunter College and the New School, though she never attained a degree. An outspoken pacifist in 1968, she was one of many artists who vowed to not pay taxes in protest of the Vietnam War and was arrested in 1978 for unfurling an anti-nuclear banner on the White House lawn. Her first collection of short stories, The Little Disturbances of Man, appeared in 1959. In 1961, Paley was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship. A complete collection of her previously published work, Collected Stories (1994), was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award. Aside from her activism and writing, Paley taught for many years at Sarah Lawrence College.
Whether in the form of Christmas trees in town squares or celebrations in public schools, Christmas has occasioned many controversies over the separation of church and state. Many Americans have questioned whether public celebration of a profoundly religious holiday is compatible with a proudly pluralist society, one that prizes freedom of worship, preventing any establishment of a civil religion.