Have you ever wanted to say “Happy Holidays” to someone, but you actually did want it to come across as an insult?
I was at the allergy clinic earlier this week, and a woman who is sitting nearby is watching the news. I am not watching the news—one, it's Fox News, so I'm aware that pulling out my phone and watching My Little Pony on Netflix is likely to be more edifying; second, they're talking about the War on Christmas. So I'm extremely disinterested in the TV. This woman, on the other hand, she is enthralled by it.
On the War on Christmas: if there were one, it'd be like the war on zombies. You're part of your own little, barbed-wire-enclosed compound. You watch as the other compounds—first Thanksgiving, now Halloween—are consumed by the Christmas horde. You can fight back against Christmas, but its onslaught is unstoppable, backed by billions upon billions of dollars in holiday sales and end-of-the-year dividends. Christmas has been taking over every winter holiday since it killed all the non-Christian winter rebirth celebrations and wove them its growing, mutated, Frankenstein's monster body.
I'm pretty sure that Christmas starts in September now. And if the neighborhoods I frequent are any indication, it ends sometime in March. There is no War on Christmas. If there is, Christmas is the undisputed winner. Christmas is fighting with Hellfire-missile-raining drones, and we've got a few sticks and a potato gun.
So this woman turns back to me and says, “Isn't that horrible? They keep taking Christ out of Christmas, there's gonna be nothing left.”
“What?” I say. I'm distracted by my phone, but I'm also dumbfounded by her comment.
She looks back at the TV and says, dramatically, “It's Christmas. Not just any holiday.”
I can't respond. I'm wondering if I've stepped into an Onion editorial column.
She gets up to leave. “Merry Christmas,” she says.
I frown internally, but I tell her, “Happy Holidays.” I could've said “Merry Christmas,” but I didn't want to. She doesn't deserve Christmas. In her own worldview, Christmas means something. At its most secular, it's a celebration of giving. Sticking to “Merry Christmas” like it's a cudgel with which to beat back non-Christians is an intensely selfish behavior. It says, “This area of the calendar is mine. MINE!” That's neither Christian, nor is it Christmas-y.
Really, if you have a problem with people wishing you happiness of any kind, then you're the problem. A flowchart posted online by my former community counseling professor at Oklahoma State University does a great job of tapering down the point to a sharp end. Enjoy and share this holiday season: