Every year, Christians gather in their homes, pull down the shades, dim the lights and quietly celebrate the day that they have appropriated from the Pagans to honor the birth of their savior. They exchange token gifts, wrapped in plain brown paper, and softly sing traditional hymns, passed down through generations in secret. They must be careful, for outside their doors, there wages a war…on Christmas.
That’s not what happens. In fact, Christmas is loudly and blindingly celebrated from Labor Day through New Year’s. There are parades. There are radio stations that play Christmas carols non-stop. There’s a federal holiday. “Do they know it’s Christmas?” the overplayed song asks. Yes, they do. Unless they’re blind, deaf shut-ins with no television, internet or radio. And even then, they probably got a Groupon on their phone for 50% off Christmas family portraits.
And yet every year, without fail, I hear about the WAR ON CHRISTMAS. It seems that the most violent act in this war is the use of the highly offensive phrase “Happy Holidays” (you guys have never seen Legends of the Fall, have you? Personally, I’d rather someone say a pleasant greeting to me than get mustard gassed in the face, tangled in barbed wire and shot with a machine gun, but I guess war is ugly no matter what the weapons). One organization even compiles a list every year of the retailers that are anti-Christmas, meaning that they use the phrase “Happy Holidays” in their ads.
Let’s take a moment to look at the various scenarios where one might hear this festive slur and the possible explanations for them, aside from the obvious “persecution of the large religious majority.”
What you hear: “Wal-Mart hates Christmas.”
What she’s saying: “Wal-Mart loves Christmas. It makes people spend like idiots, which is what this store is all about. But since market testing has determined that more people prefer it when I say ‘Happy Holidays,’ that’s what I do. If research proved that being punched in the face caused people to spend more money, corporate policy would call for me to physically attack you as you walked through the door.”
At the Post Office
What you hear: “The government is run by atheists. Inefficient atheists.”
What he’s saying: “Sure, it’s silly that individual government workers can’t greet people with phrases from our religion, but when Usman over there wished a woman ‘Happy Ramadan!’ a few months ago she actually pooped her pants. So we just keep it generic now.”
At the Grocery Store
What you hear: “Despite the fact that you’re obviously buying all of this cookie dough to make Christmas cookies and not to eat raw in bed while crying, I am going to wish you ‘Happy holidays’ as part of my calculated war on your favorite day.”
What she’s saying: “In hour nine of my 14-hour shift, another woman yelled at me for saying ‘Merry Christmas’ because she’s a Jehovah’s Witness. Now you’re yelling at me for saying ‘Happy Holidays.’ Do you all really have nothing more offensive going on in your lives?”
What you hear: “I just don’t respect your religious choices.”
What she’s saying: “Please stop giving me Christmas presents. I’ve told you over and over again, I’m Jewish.”