Some Pushback on Christmas

One of the things I enjoy when I return to Texas for Christmas is that I am much more likely to hear "Merry Christmas" than I do in Southern California, where "Happy Holidays" at least temporarily diminishes that special feeling this time of year evokes. It is so uniform at stores in So Cal that it is obviously store policy that their employees avoid saying "Merry Christmas." This likely is done to avoid offending people. After all, some people do not celebrate Christmas.

But the logic has always escaped me when it comes to those of us -- most of us -- who are there buying Christmas ornaments, Christmas wrapping paper, Christmas trees, Christmas music, and assorted Christmas decorations. I go to Walgreens and buy no less than three different Nativity sets (a weakness of mine), Christmas lights, and Christmas-themed wrapping paper. I say, "Merry Christmas" and the clerk says, "Seasons Greetings." Arrghhh! There is no risk of offense in telling a Nativity-set-addict, "Merry Christmas." Just the opposite. I am more likely to shop at places that let their employees say what they want to say and what is appropriate for each customer. If the employee is buying a Menorah, then yeah, "Happy Holidays" would be appropriate. An adventurous clerk might even venture a "Happy Hanukkah."

It is so conspicuous that I noticed it shortly after moving to So Cal. Lately, it has spread to Christmas trees, which are more and more likely to be referred to as "Holiday trees." Which holiday? That's for each person to decide, I suppose. But of course there has never been such a thing as an Atheist tree. If someone is buying a big tree and is going to stick it in their living room and put presents under it, they are obviously celebrating Christmas. Lowe's for example, had banners in front of their stores proclaiming the sale of "fresh-cut holiday trees." The big decorated tree that is deployed near the capitol building in Washington D.C. has been referred to as a Holiday tree for a few years. The White House has a Christmas tree, thankfully, but is not insensitive to those who do not celebrate Christmas. It also has decorations celebrating Hanukkah and at other holidays, even Muslim ones, recognition is giving to the different faiths of Americans.

Most of this has been subtle, as corporations and governments quietly just changed their terminology and practices. But it seems that the days of subtly eliminating "Christmas" are over. The Speaker of the House has proclaimed the "Holiday tree" at the Capitol will be referred to as a Christmas tree. The Governor of California reversed recent practice and likewise renamed the state "Holiday tree" a Christmas tree. So too the Mayor of Boston. Corporations too have reacted to the backlash. Wal Mart has issued a statement clarifying that employees are permitted to tell customers, "Merry Christmas." Lowe's replaced the "holiday trees" banners with banners announcing the sale of Christmas trees. Bill O'Reilly recently did a special on efforts to put "Christmas" back in Christmas (remember when we were worried about putting "Christ" back in Christmas?). You can see it here. A legal advocacy group calling itself the Alliance Defense Fund has a website where you can read about attacks on "Christmas" and the outcome of legal challenges by the ACLU and others.

It is encouraging to see some actual results from the pushback against anti-Christmas efforts. For my part, I make a point of saying "Merry Christmas" to those employees who tell me "Happy Holidays" or "Seasons Greetings." I do it very nicely and with much Christmas cheer.


Sleep-Deprived said…
I'm glad you clarified "weakness" with "addiction" - because it you hadn't, I would have outed you!!!

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