Holiday Humbug: Merry Christmas, Donald Wildmon - And Happy Halloween, Too!
Rob Boston printable version print page     Bookmark and Share
Tue Oct 21, 2008 at 01:14:14 PM EST
My 10-year-old son and I spent last night at a Halloween pumpkin carving contest. We had about half an hour to come up with a design, and despite our less-than-stellar knife skills, managed to win a ribbon for "Most Unusual Nose." (Based on the number of ribbons I saw, I suspect this was one of those contests where everyone got a prize.)

As I stood there arms deep in pumpkin goo, it was hard to think of anything but candy corn, trick or treaters and "It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown." I know Christmas is coming in two months - but c'mon. Can't we take the holidays one at a time?

Not according to the Rev. Donald Wildmon. In what is becoming a yearly tradition, the dour founder of the American Family Association has once again, two weeks before Halloween, started complaining about the failure of people to use the phrase "Merry Christmas."

"It's OK To Say Merry Christmas," blare new buttons and stickers being hawked on the AFA Web site. A pack of 10 buttons goes for a "suggested donation" of nine dollars, but the "semi-permanent adhesive, glossy finish stickers" run high at 10 for $24 (with free shipping!)  

"It's hard to believe that there are companies and individuals who want to ban `Merry Christmas' and replace it with `Holiday Greetings' because, they say, they don't want to offend anyone," Wildmon grumps in a press release.

Yes, that is hard to believe - because no one wants to do that. I've been through this with Wildmon and his buddies before. Here's the deal: Some people say "Merry Christmas," and some say something else, like "Seasons Greetings." There is no government directive on what people can or cannot say.

Some stores, aware that not all of their customers celebrate Christmas, use a generic greeting. No one is trying to offend you or ruin your holiday. In fact, if you are really bothered by the type of holiday greeting you receive from a drug-store clerk in December, I'd like to suggest that you need to ask Santa to bring you a life.

Does anyone seriously think Christmas is under assault in the United States? Retailers certainly don't. In fact, they are starting to panic. Worried that the economic downturn might reduce spending this year, retailers are looking for ways to boost Christmas spirit - and sales. I imagine big corporations will instruct their employees to use any greeting possible if it will encourage more buying.

And therein lies the problem. Wildmon and his obsessive Religious Right pals continue to fixate on the use of the phrase "Merry Christmas," as if store workers' by-rote repetition of it will somehow cause Americans to infuse the holiday with more religious meaning. (It reminds me of how the Religious Right persists in believing that 30 seconds of watered-down, generic prayer in public school every day will make kids more devout.) Wildmon is looking at the business community to make Christmas more religious - the business community!

Don't look to corporations and stores to save your holiday, Don. Don't expect that a directive from a home office somewhere ordering the men and women who staff the checkouts to say "Merry Christmas" will lead to a religious revival. It's just silly.

Want a religious experience in December? I know where you can find one: in a church.

Finally, I'd just like to be the first to wish Don Wildmon and the entire staff of the AFA a very Merry Christmas.

I hope they're happy now because I've got to go pick up some Halloween candy.

bloviators seem to want the businesses and employees to announce that the US is in fact a Christian nation, and, in a sign of good faith, will give all Christians 10% off all non-discounted items in stock. ( Sorry, no rainchecks.)

by trog69 on Tue Oct 21, 2008 at 04:23:25 PM EST

If I'm truly taking care of business as I should be this holiday season, there will be little time to worry 'bout how I'm addressed by a store clerk. Truth is I add very little to the economy at Christmas, my celebration is being concerned with the needs of the disenfranchised. Thanksgiving & Christman will be spent with people in from the streets and shelters. If I'm physically able, I'll be cooking both days this season. My present, what I receive, is the  satisfaction of giving back as I was given. No one at the table I share will be required to be a card carrying member of any congregation. All are welcome. That's all I can give.

by blynn on Wed Oct 22, 2008 at 05:33:22 PM EST

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