I have been following, in spurts, the issue of The War on Christmas as is talked about by Bill O’Reilly, a political radio and television talk show host. I understand that John Gibson is also on the bandwagon, and has released a book on the subject this year. I recall they were both discussing this last year as well.
Here are my experiences so far this year.
I should mention that this whole backlash against religion and Christmas has tilted me a bit in the other direction. A few years ago I intentionally would only buy cards with “Merry Christmas” on them. I also only buy the Jesus and Mary illustrated USPS stamps.
I bought Christmas cards at a discount store for an unbelievable price. They were last year’s designs, so they were in the overstock section of a local discount store. I know they were last year’s designs as some of the cards actually had “2004” written on the front of the cards as part of the design. The downside is that these cards don’t say “Merry Christmas”. I was also faced with the choice to send a religious Christian message on a regular card with a photo tucked inside it loosely or to have a pretty card intended to house a photo—with a non-religious image and a non-religious message. I chose the nice looking picture card. I have the budget to contend with this year! So this is the first time in a few years that I am not sending a greeting with the word ‘Christmas’ on it, which bothers me, actually.
I also noticed while at the Post Office yesterday that when people asked for Christmas stamps they were given the non-religious stamps automatically rather than being offered a choice. I was buying 100 stamps for a relative and when it was my turn I asked specifically for the ones with Mary and Jesus. In November when I bought stamps for my own cards I asked what they had for CHRISTMAS stamps and was shown the selection including Hanukah and Kwanzaa, which I thought was interesting as I had specifically said I wanted CHRISTMAS stamps (not stamps for all holidays in December). I am sure the clerk was trying to be PC and thorough. I found it very interesting.
I had thought I was done with Christmas shopping last week but come to find out, I really was not. I was going to give money to my nephews but then I was asked to buy them LEGOs. So last night I was back out shopping.
I have been to Wal Mart twice, to Toys R Us four times, and to an independent toy dealer three times. I have also been to three different drug stores (for ornament hangers one time and for Christmas cards twice). I have been to various other retail stores. I also have been at the US Postal Service three times in the last two weeks. Also I have been to a few fast food restaurants because I was caught out shopping longer than anticipated. I also have been buying groceries at several different stores in different towns. Oh, and I have been in large chain craft stores twice a week for the last six or eight weeks—these businesses are selling a lot of holiday related craft making supplies and also gift items. Not one single staff member has:
1. Thanked me for the purchase
2. Gave any holiday greeting at all
Except---for one store clerk, last night. I was going to a craft store and saw a dollar store. I had never been there before. It also was the largest dollar store I have ever seen. It was the size of a small grocery store. I went inside to see what they had (you never know what a dollar store will have!) and was blown away by what they were selling. I saw items that are normally $4-6 all for $1. I even bought a pack of multi-colored Sharpie markers which sells for $18. Anyway the owners were there and they were all Indian. As I was paying I was wondering what I am supposed to say to a person who most likely is not a Christian. Before I could say anything, I was thanked, wished a good evening and a Merry Christmas. I was so shocked my jaw almost fell to the floor.
(I also don’t understand why no clerks are saying ‘thank you’ anymore, not even McDonald’s employees are saying it. Back when I worked at McDonald’s, it was in the training manual that we had to say ‘please’ and ‘thank you’, I recall! I swear Americans are getting ruder and ruder and basic manners and decorum seems to be going out the window more and more each year.)
My personal opinion on the War on Christmas is first and foremost it started as a Politically Correct thing. I dealt with this when I worked for a large HMO. (Maybe I will find time to write of that interesting experience where they did away with Christmas and then rolled in the Holiday and then did away with that and began celebrating Winter.)
Anyway I think a lot of companies are more worried about being politically correct than they are trying to wipe out the Christian holiday. I also think (since I was raised in a God-less home) that many non-Christians and atheists included do celebrate something called Christmas although what they are doing, in their eyes, has nothing to do with Jesus or religion, but is about gift giving, spending time with friends and family, taking time off of work and school, eating, hearing traditional Christmas songs, and doing various Christmas traditions such as decorating their homes, looking at other people’s decorations, putting up a tree, drinking egg nog, etc. In the past these people had no problem saying “Merry Christmas”.
Anyway it was one thing to try and be PC when Christmas messages were all around me, by saying “Happy Holidays” and putting that message on our Christmas cards, but it is yet another to be PC when traces of Christmas are non-existent. It really does seem like the word Christmas is being erased on the part of companies (all types) and also by retailers who are selling me items that are very obviously intended for use because of Christmas. It really bothers me to not see or hear the word “Christmas” anymore!
I think I have an interesting perspective on this because I was raised without a religion. My parents used to say they were agnostic. I was never baptized and had no religious education nor did we attend church as a family. I did attend church at various times with friends (as a social thing to do, if I wanted to hang around with them at church time it meant I had to go to church). I remember attending various churches in town as part of earning a Girl Scout badge which had something to do with learning about other religions (I wonder if they do that anymore?). Most memorable was attending a church filled with black people singing gospel and acting very happy and lively—this was so different than the other churches that I had attended.
I was raised at a time when Christmas was celebrated in the public schools including (being made to) sing religious themed Christmas carols in my music class (which I did not have a problem with at all). (I graduated in the 1980s.) I also was surrounded by people for whom Christmas was a religious celebration (and I was tolerant of them and had no problem with the fact that what they were celebrating was a different thing for me—my holiday was more about the Tree, food, family, time off from school, and most of all, presents.) I loved Christmas then and I still love it! I was NEVER offended at the word Christmas.
Now that I am an adult my parents are bolder and say they are atheists. For them Christmas is now a time to give and receive gifts, eat special foods and to see family. Now that I am an adult and a mother, and a believer in Christ, for me Christmas is now a celebration of the birth of Christ as well as all the other things that I have already mentioned. My husband and I have created even more Christmas traditions for us to do with our children.
I am disgusted at the removal of the word Christmas from Christmas and am annoyed that most retailers are taking my money for Christmas purchases yet are not wishing me a “Merry Christmas”.