21 December 2007

Holiday Morning

Adoration of the Magi, Pieter Aertsen, C. 1560

I read an article about the continuing discussion of the use of the seasonal greeting “Happy Holidays” instead of the traditional English “Merry Christmas”. The company which owns Banana Republic, Old Navy and The Gap is one of the major retailing chains instructing its employees to wish customers “Happy Holidays” instead of “Merry Christmas” for fear of offending someone. One print advertising piece mentioned, “The perfect gift to open on Holiday Morning”! Golly Gee.

Apparently the politically correct bean-counters that run this outfit believe that sales would be lost if some clerk in some store in some mall somewhere in the United States spoke those cheerful words, “Merry Christmas!” to a customer. They gauge the threat of a lawsuit to be significant enough to warrant not taking the chance. Given the fact that the courts in our country are known for entertaining ridiculous and frivolous lawsuits based upon imagined slights, the businessmen may have a point, albeit, a slight one.

Not being a lawyer or an accountant I know I am not qualified to plumb the depths of the sophisticated thinking that gives rise to this phenomenon, but all this hub-bub strikes me as queer indeed considering that many retailers in America rely on the Christmas shopping season for a large portion of their annual sales revenue. If it wasn’t for Christmas shopping a lot of these shoppers would not be shopping at all. The truth is that retailers do everything they can to encourage people to spend ridiculous amounts of money for Christmas shopping while pretending it is not “Christmas shopping”; it is “Holiday Shopping”. “Holiday” as in the observance of the winter solstice, Saturnalia, Yule, and the re-birth of Mithra. If they had their way, the word “Christmas” would be removed from our vocabulary altogether, the entire month of December turned into one unbroken orgy of spending insanity, and malls decorated as temples for the worship of consumerism.

However, even in our dumbed-down society, everyone knows that Christmas is the Christian Feast in celebration and remembrance of the birth of the Christ child, Emanuel, God incarnate in the flesh. You can debate whether or not the U.S.A. is a “Christian” country all you want, but the point remains that Christmas is deeply embedded in our culture and our national psyche and no amount of fiddling around with it by merchants will change things. Its all about the baby Jesus. Christmas is here to stay, and I say to them, “keep Christmas in your own way, and let me keep it in mine”.

“And so, as Tiny Tim observed, God bless us, Every One!”

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