It’s that time again, to hear the conservative lament about the “War on Christmas.” Is this, as the New York Times has opined, merely in our imagination? I’d agree that the term “war” is a bit of an exaggeration. “Cultural skirmish” might be a better fit. No one has outlawed Christmas in America, but expressions of “Merry Christmas” and related decorations have become unwelcome in many situations.
One of the drivers of the anti-Christmas mentality has been the American Civil Liberties Union. Years ago, I supported this organization, as I believed that their work in defending civil rights outweighed their adherence to politically correct ideology. Yet I’ve never shared the ACLU’s hard-line view on church-state separation. What harm would it do to have a nativity scene at the county courthouse? I see it not as establishing an official church, but as a recognition of our culture. I’d prefer that the decorations be paid for by private donations, of course.
Though I’ve been a religious skeptic all my adult life, I’m also a traditionalist. I love both Christmas and the Christmas story. This is why it’s unfortunate that so many of us feel obligated to say “Happy Holidays” instead of “Merry Christmas” lest we offend someone who is not Christian. No, I wouldn’t go out of my way to say it to someone I knew was Jewish or Muslim, but in a more enlightened society, we wouldn’t need to worry about that. I see “Merry Christmas” not as a proclamation of “you must observe my culture’s holidays,” but as a way to say, “you are welcome in our community.” For example, if I were in Japan and someone wished me a happy Gozan no Okuribi, it wouldn’t matter that I’m not Buddhist. It’s the sentiment behind the wish that is most important. That’s one of the things I find so appealing about the Victorian Era. The Victorians had many flaws but feeling guilty about their heritage, culture, and traditions was not one of them.
Speaking of Christmas, in 2016 I wrote a satirical piece about political correctness in the holiday season, which was published in the flash fiction collection, Christmas in Love, edited by George Donnelly. Check it out. I hope you’ll find my contribution to be amusing.
What do you think? Is there a war on Christmas? Please leave your comments below!