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‘Christmas’ and ‘Holidays,’ One More Time


I have written a lot about the “Happy Holidays” business, and one tires of such things. And one mustn’t fall into harping. But there is something deeply puzzling about the whole matter: the idea that “Merry Christmas” could be offensive to someone. I myself would be delighted to be wished a Happy Diwali or whatever by Hindus — or a Happy Eid by Muslims, etc. It would make me feel rather included. I would regard such an expression as thoughtful.

A friend of mine told me the other day that “Merry Christmas” was bad because it didn’t “include everyone.” But how did “Merry Christmas” become non-inclusive? (Have you noticed that, when you write about PC things, you have to use ugly words, such as “non-inclusive”?) In fact, you could call “Merry Christmas” inclusive, in that someone is including you in his holiday, or in the general holiday.

(I made essentially the same point in the first paragraph, I know.)

The idea that “Merry Christmas” is for believing Christians only — in countries such as the United States — is bizarre. Everyone would have known it to be bizarre and wrong until, oh, 15 years ago.

And how many non-Christian or secular people celebrate Christmas, in some fashion? Twelve zillion?

I know Jews who are especially offended at the verbotenization of “Merry Christmas.” They say, in essence, “If you’re pulling this ‘Happy Holidays’ crap for me, please don’t.” (Of course, these Jews tend to be religious ones — the secular ones may be a different kettle of fish. I think religious people are less offended by religious things in general, don’t you? It’s the secular ones who are touchy touchy touchy.)

Two seconds ago, “Merry Christmas” was about the warmest, nicest, most joyful thing you could say to someone. Now, it can be borderline hate speech. “Strange things are afoot at the Circle K,” says someone in the Bill & Ted movie. Strange things are afoot in America, too, and not necessarily good things.


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