Dan Savage says something that absolutely resonates with me. It had never bothered me to have people wish me merry Christmas or for me to wish them similarly in return. But this whole nonsense of the ‘war of Christmas’ which has made the phrase ‘merry Christmas’ into a shibboleth to prove that one was not hostile to Christmas has actually had the reverse effect, where I hesitate to say it so as to avoid looking like I am on the side of the Christian nutcases.
I was never a “happy holidays” guy. Christmas was a big deal in my home growing up, and it’s a big deal in the home I share with Terry. December is Christmas. I’ve always wished people “merry Christmas” without really giving it a thought. Ho-ho-ho.
But that’s over now.
Sarah Palin and Bill O’Reilly and Fox News and the Family Research Council and the woman who allegedly punched another woman outside Walmart earlier this week for saying “happy holidays” instead of “merry Christmas” managed to break me of the “merry Christmas” habit. I suspect I’m not alone. This constant bitching from the right about “happy holidays”—a perfectly lovely expression that embraces Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, Boxing Day, Pancha Ganapati, New Year’s Eve, New Year’s Day, Hanukkah, the Epiphany, Saint Nicholas’s Day, Hogmanay, Twelfth Night, and Kwanzaa—has made one thing clear. Not that there is now, or ever was, a war on Christmas. But that saying “merry Christmas” is an asshole move. Just as conservatives made patriotism toxic during the Vietnam War by conflating it with blind obedience to authority (“My country, right or wrong!”), modern conservatives have made “merry Christmas” toxic by associating it with Christian fundamentalism, religious intolerance, and the politics of imagined persecution.
Unfortunately, the war on Christmas is a game Palin and O’Reilly and Fox News and the Family Research Council can’t lose. The more they complain about people saying “happy holidays” instead of “merry Christmas,” the fewer people will say “merry Christmas.” This will be held up as proof that the war on Christmas is real. But people like me aren’t replacing “merry Christmas” with “happy holidays” to be “politically correct,” as Palin insists in the introduction to her stupid book, we’re doing it because we don’t want people to think we’re assholes.
Well said, Dan.