Friday, October 18, 2013

It Starts Earlier Every Year!

It's not even Halloween yet, and this meme turned up on my news feed tonight.  My first reaction was to comment "What do you mean 'we,' paleface?"  The friend who posted it replied:
Do we really need to be politically correct all the time. Christmas has always been called Christmas, to remind you of Christ birth (Christ-mas). Now people want to say, "Happy holidays". You could say that of every holiday! I want to be politically correct with relationship of women in "men's" fields. Firefighter, and such but fisherman, policeman, and some others have not changed.
I replied:
That's what I was going to ask you, because this meme is Political Correctness run amok.

"Christmas" has not disappeared, nor is it threatened by "Happy Holidays." If there's an American church that refers to December 25 as "Holiday" and never calls it "Christmas," I'd be interested in knowing about it.

"Happy Holidays" has nothing to do with "political correctness." It's about good manners, and living in the real world, and the real America, where not everybody is a Christian. Since there are several holidays at the end of December -- Christmas, Kwanzaa, Hanukkah, the Winter Solstice, New Year's Eve -- "Happy Holidays" raises the odds that the person addressed will be celebrating at least one of them. If not, they'll probably at least be getting a holiday or two from work. Christmas wasn't always an important Christian holiday, and for many Christians it still isn't. For Orthodox Christians, Epiphany (January 6) is at least as important.

I'm not offended when someone wishes me a "Merry Christmas" (or at least I didn't used to be, which I'll explain a little later). Nor are most non-Christians offended. We take the kind thought behind the wish, and accept it. But it's also a kind thought when someone wishes us "Happy Holidays" and doesn't assume that we're Christians. It caught on for this reason, but also for good business reasons: I'm not offended when a cashier wishes me "Merry Christmas," but I'm pleased when they wish me "Happy Holidays." I know it isn't their decision, but their employer's, who doesn't want to alienate customers and wants to make money from everybody.

On the other hand, I have sometimes thanked clerks and cashiers for saying "Happy Holidays" to me, and asked them to pass my thanks on to their bosses, because it takes a little bit of courage nowadays to say "Happy Holidays" now that the choice has been turned into a battle in the Culture Wars. The bloated and inflamed assholes who invented the War on Christmas have tried to make it a political issue whether to say one or the other. When someone wishes me "Merry Christmas," I usually can't tell whether they genuinely mean well or are puffed up with thinking about how they're better than people who say "Happy Holidays," so I give them the benefit of the doubt. It would be as stupid of me to throw a tantrum over "Merry Christmas" as it is when Bill O'Reilly's shock troops have a hissyfit over "Happy Holidays." But when someone makes it explicit that they are saying "Merry Christmas" as part of the right-wing Republican Christian fundamentalist jihad against everyone who isn't a right-wing Republican Christian fundamentalist, of course I give them a hard time. So go ahead, post memes like this if you like -- it's a free country -- but think for a minute about the message you're sending about yourself. And thanks for getting the War on Christmas Season off to an early start!

P.S. It's kind of funny that despite the BS -- and it is BS -- about the importance of making it clear that Christmas is about Christ, this meme uses a picture of Santa Claus, not of Jesus. Whose birthday is it again?
Soon to come: the first sighting of the traditional "Obama Bans Christmas Trees from the White House" myth.  It just wouldn't feel like Christmas without it!