The Fat Guy in Ann Arbor

by Jay Nordlinger

No, not Bo Schembechler. He is deceased (and besides, he wasn’t all that fat). People like to send me stories from Ann Arbor, and about Ann Arbor. I don’t know why. Do I ever mention this rather insignificant little town in my scribbles on this website? Anyway, a reader writes,

I was attending a “holiday party” for an administrative division of the U-M [the University of Michigan, perhaps I should specify]. A costumed Santa Claus was present, and as he prepared to leave he boomed out, “Ho ho ho, Haaa-pppy Holidays!”

Now, this is a big fat guy in a red suit and a snowy white beard. He’s not pretending to be anything but Father Christmas. So I went up to him and said, “Hey, Santa — I think it’s okay for you to say ‘Merry Christmas.’” He said, “Oh, yeah. Sorry. I’m just so used to saying ‘Happy Holidays’ . . .”

Over the years, people have sent me notes saying that ushers in church greet them on December 25 with “Happy Holidays.” At Easter once, an usher greeted my own bad self with “Happy Holiday.” This stuff just gets ingrained, automatic.

Memo to church ushers and Santas: You can say “Merry Christmas.” (Hell, you may even be able to work in “Jesus” or “Christ.”) (Not sure Santa should touch that.) Memo to store clerks (for example): Better watch it. Or as Santa would say, “You’d better watch out.”

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