By Kevin Levy, Senior Editor
In November of 2015, blusterous longshot presidential candidate Donald Trump promised at a rally in Illinois that, if he were elected President, “We’re all going to be saying Merry Christmas again.” This complaint was a rebuke to the establishment (whatever that means) but more importantly, it represented a responding salvo in the ever-continuing War on Christmas. President Obama and the rest of the liberal intelligentsia, naturally, say Happy Holidays, intentionally scoffing Christmas and Christians.
This theater of the modern culture war is yet another battleground in the fight over political correctness. President-elect Trump and his followers have argued that Americans haven’t been allowed to say Merry Christmas, but with the advent (pun intended) of the Trump Administration, we can greet each other with the appropriate seasonal greeting and feel safe. Corey Lewandowski, former Trump campaign manager-turned CNN contributor-turned Trump advisor, even went as far as saying that “[i]t’s not a pejorative word anymore.”
It would be impossible to forget the major legislative triumphs of the Obama Administration, such as the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) and the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, better known as the 2009 stimulus.
But one often overlooked Obama-championed pieces of legislation was the Banning Christmas Act of 2010, passed by Democrats clad in grinch-green. These anti-Christmas scrooges attempted to implement criminal penalties for private citizens and ban corporations from engaging in any bit of Christmas cheer. They shouted “Bah, humbug!” from their perches in Washington, D.C., bemoaning the Christmas spirit.
Except none of this actually happened. The War on Christmas has allegedly been waged by local school boards who instruct teachers not to utter the blasphemous phrase or towns that change the name of their annual shrubbery from the “Christmas Tree” to “Holiday Tree,” all in the name of political correctness, evidently.
Social conservatives argue that liberals have moved away from saying Merry Christmas out of fear of offending non-Christians. The reverse effect was felt, however, when many expressed their outrage last year over the failure of coffee giant Starbucks to place the word “Christmas” on its seasonal coffee cup.
It seems almost poetically ironic that those who argue that the phrase, “Black Lives Matter” means that white lives don’t are the same ones that demand that Merry Christmas be uttered to the exclusion of the other winter holidays.
In 2016, there are more people of non-Christian religions living in the United States than ever before. From Semitic religions such as Judaism and Islam and Eastern religions like Buddhism and Hinduism to non-religions, there are many people in the United States that simply don’t celebrate Christmas.
I am a Jew of a mixed-religion household. Since I was a child, I’ve celebrated both Christmas and Hanukkah, whenever it falls. This year, I feel particularly #blessed that the first day of Hanukkah falls on December 24th, Christmas Eve, allowing me to share my own Jewish traditions with my predominately Catholic family. To me, this is the most wonderful time of the year, uniting families together and, perhaps more pressing, marking the end of the semester.
And even though I celebrate both holidays, I tend to say Merry Christmas when leaving my friends and teachers for the break, when walking out of grocery stores, and hanging up the phone with persistent telemarketers. That has never been about asserting Christmas supremacy, but rather it highlights my own underlying assumptions of those that live and work around me. I have come to assume that most people near me celebrate Christmas, and so I wish them a Merry Christmas. But if I know a friend does not celebrate Christmas, then I would be substantially more likely to wish a Happy New year, or perhaps a more general Happy Holidays.
Are people truly offended by the lack of “Christmas” on a coffee cup? Similarly, are people seriously offended by roving bands of Christmas carolers in school hallways, as are customarily found in the last week of school at my own public school system? Or are they just happy to participate in the annual “War on Christmas” that doesn’t really exist?
Even the perpetually angry Tomi Lahren defended those who say Happy Holidays, admitting that she is among that number, saying, “I say happy holidays to folks I don't know, not because I want to be politically correct, [but] because I'm polite,” and encouraged her followers to live and let live on the Merry Christmas debate. While the rest of her video contained unsubstantiated claims that the whole of Christianity was under attack from the Islam-loving Obama Administration, her brief moment of ideological sanity hopefully can provide a future where hours of debate aren’t wasted on simple phrases like Merry Christmas.
It wasn’t illegal to say Merry Christmas under President Obama, and it won’t be under President Trump. People who say Happy Holidays don’t do so to spite Christians, but to be more inclusive of those who celebrate other winter holidays, like Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, and the New Year.
For me, I’m glad that a stranger has greeted me, whether they say Merry Christmas, Chag Chanukah Sameach, or Happy Holidays. And I believe that most people are just happy that people are talking to them, regardless of the seasonal greeting.
So Merry Christmas, you filthy animals. And if you celebrate another holiday, then Happy Holidays. At least, I think we might all be able to agree on “Good December.”