Still Pissed Off About the Hawley-Smoot Tariff

Friday, December 24, 2004

Happy Holidays!

Wait, did I just betray my conservative value by not saying Merry Christmas?

There was a story in the newspaper last Dec. 19th about a group of Christians who plan on boycotting stores that make their employees wish customers a Happy Holidays rather than a Merry Christmas. Yesterday Beth Lachin, a local business owner, wrote a letter to the editor explaining why she wishes her customers Happy Holidays.

"This is not because I am intimidated by those who wish to obliterate religious expression from our day-to-day-life... It is simply out of respect for my customers who may observe non-Christian faiths, but are enjoying their own religious holy days or cultural observances concurrent with the Christmas season."

Average Joe expressed a similar sentiment:

"I don't know about you, but for the most part I can't instantly tell someone's religious affiliation at first glance and I'm not pompous enough to think that my beliefs trump yours."

Interestingly, after I told him in his comments that I was fine with Merry Christmas, he wished me a Merry Christmas in my comments below.

Contrast these opinions with atheist Dave's griping about anti-Christmas freaks complaining about a tree (not a "Christmas" tree, a "giving tree") that generates about $25,000 in chartiable donations per year, because two atheists were offended by the sight of it. At the end of his post, he wishes us all a "Merry Birth of Jesus Christ Our Lord And Savior Day!" (Heh. This coming from an atheist).

Since you're all dying to know my opinion on the secularization of Christmas, I'll tell you. Up to and including the time I read Dave's post, I agreed without reservation with his sentiments. Those who complain about Christmas trees on public property are ipso facto freaks who need to shut up and be forced to watch "It's a Wonderful Life." And "National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation" for good measure. That's because I tended to assume that there was a bilateral divide between those who want Christmas trees around because they are traditional and associated with the obvious reason we're not at work or in school right now, on the one hand, and those who didn't want Christmas trees because they hate religion, and want to twist the First Amendment into an anti-religion Amendment. On those terms, I have no problem whatsoever snubbing the atheists, because seriously, how is your right not to be offended greater than thousands of years of tradition?

But there is another group, one which I confess I hadn't considered until reading Average Joe and Beth Lachin's letter to the editor - the observant Jew (for example) who celebrates Hannukah but who is too polite to complain when someone assumes he is a Christian and wishes him a Merry Christmas. When the only impact of a Merry Christmas is getting under an atheist's hyper-sensitive skin, I say a little annoyance might be good for the soul. But when the impact is disrespect for the well-meaning, non-politically-motivated Jew, I think Christians ought to more seriously reflect on the impact of their actions.

Ultimately it comes down to forcing one's beliefs on another. The atheists in Dave's post want to force a tree off of public property because it offends them. The Christian-organized boycott referenced in Lachin's letter are trying to force Christmas into private retail outlets. I cannot in good conscience conclude that either group is right to force their views.

So Happy Holidays, everyone, and for you Christians out there, I wish you a very Merry Christmas. And to everyone but the neo-pagans who celebrate the New Year at vernal equinox, Happy New Year. And all of you anti-Christmas atheists - if you don't like it, I hope you're at work tomorrow. And I also hope you're at work every Sunday, including Easter.