Published December 29, 2008
This war on Christmas stuff is really tired. I drove by a billboard on Belmont that says "I miss hearing you say 'Merry Christmas'." Yet, everywhere I went this holiday season I heard greetings and farewells of "Merry Christmas."
I don't even mind--though I don't share America's preoccupation with God. I understand the culture of where I live, and I harbor no delusions about being able to substantially alter it. I view it as a when-in-Rome type thing. If I was in Bavaria, I would say "Grüss Gott" and not flinch. I live in middle America, I can say "Merry Christmas." I've come to grips with the countless songs of angels and virgin mothers the same way I tolerate with the band of imaginary creatures who populate our home, such as the Tooth Fairy, the Easter Bunny, and Santa Claus.
On the other hand I, like many Americans, hate being told what to do or how to behave. So, seeing a giant billboard admonishing me to say "Merry Christmas" makes me not want to say it. It reminds me that the holiday season is about giving and sharing, about recognizing the diversity that exists in our communities, and about ensuring that everyone feels included and appreciated in whatever traditions they observe.
As long as the fable of this non-war persists, I'll be more likely to prefer "Happy Holidays" over "Merry Christmas." Drop the charade and false indignation, and I'll feel more warmly toward the latter.