It’s that time again, to hear the conservative lament about the “war on Christmas.” Is this, as the New York Times suggest, merely in our imagination? I’d agree that the term “war” is a bit of an exaggeration. Maybe “cultural skirmish” would be a better term. No one has outlawed Christmas here in America, but expressions of “Merry Christmas” and related decorations aren’t welcome in all situations.
One of the drivers of this anti-Christmas mentality has been the American Civil Liberties Union. Years ago, I was a member of that organization, as I believed that it did a lot of important work to support our civil rights. I let my membership expire when they began to view political correctness as more important than freedom. Though I’ve been a religious skeptic all my adult life, I’ve never shared their hard-line view on church-state separation. What harm does it do to have a nativity scene at the county courthouse? Does this constitute establishing an official church? I see it rather as a recognition of the local culture. I’d prefer that the decorations be paid for by private donations rather than taxpayer funds, but in any case, there are a lot more egregious things we could spend our money on.
This is why it’s unfortunate that we feel obligated to say “Happy Holidays” instead of “Merry Christmas” lest we offend someone who is not Christian. Though I would not go out of my way to say it to someone I knew was Jewish, or who appeared Middle Eastern, I wish I didn’t have to worry about that. Christmas is part of our culture, which is shared even by those of us who aren’t religious. For example, if I were in Japan and someone wished me a happy Gozan no Okuribi, it wouldn’t matter at all to me that I’m not Buddhist. It’s part of their culture, and besides, it’s the sentiment behind the wish that counts.
Speaking of Christmas, check out the new flash fiction collection, Christmas in Love, edited by George Donnelly. I’m sure you’ll find my contribution to be amusing. Even better, the e-book is FREE for a limited time.