Tuesday, December 21, 2004

Happy Holiday!

Only a few years ago, I was vaguely anti-Christmas. There are aspects of it that I don't particularly care for. I gag when hearing Christmas Carols massacred by Mannheim Steamroller, or transformed into jingles for Old Navy and the Gap. My stomach turns while watching low-rent hoards pour into Wal-Mart the day after Thanksgiving to purchase poorly made crap at "always low prices." This is possibly due in part to simple snobbery. But it is also to some extent motivated by the disdain, which I share with the Pope, for the excessive commercialization of the holiday.
My attitude began to change a few years ago when I was working at Liberty magazine. I was inspecting the letter we were sending out with our Christmas gift offer. It had an image of a Thomas Nast Santa but no use of the word "Christmas." I unsuccessfully argued that our subscribers, though overwhelmingly secular would be more likely offended by the PC phrase "holiday gift" than by the mention of of Christmas. I began to notice the extent to which some people and organizations go to avoid saying Christmas. Now, I am mildly offended by the banal phrase "happy holidays."
There is currently a rhetorical war raging over Christmas, and how much it is under threat. Vdare is the best source on the right. Salon and the Washington Monthly have weighed in as well. From what I have seen and heard, a lot of people are concerned about offending the tiny minority of people who are perputually nourishing grievances. Big corporations, a reliable source of political correctness, are driving much of this with their "holiday sales," etc. I was pleasantly surprised the other day, while shopping in the Fresh Market, to hear numerous employees wishing customers a merry Christmas. The Fresh Market is a yuppish chain that caters to a proportionally higher number of secularists than does Wal-mart. If they aren't afraid of Christmas, than nobody should be.


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