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Saturday, December 18, 2004

The traditional yule fear factor

James Lileks is a hoot when it comes to lampooning the PC idiocy about "Merry Christmas"

"Maybe it's just me. Perhaps I'm overly sensitive. But when I wish a store clerk 'Merry Christmas!' they often appear stunned and flummoxed for a moment, as if I've just blabbed the plans for the underground's sabotage of the train tracks in front of the secret police. I've said something highly inappropriate for the public square, and I almost expect a security guard to take me aside on the way out. He'll lead me to a small room. He has no enthusiasm for this; it's the end of his shift, and he's done this a dozen times already today. But policy is policy.

Sir, you realize that the store does not use the, um, ah, C word. We have nothing against it, of course, and wish you a merry (cough)mas, as well. But when you say that to a store employee, it puts them in a difficult position.

'You mean that position where they have to smile while wondering if they're going to be disciplined for saying the wrong thing?'

That's the one, yes. I hope you understand that we have a long-standing relationship with the (cough)mas holiday --

'Like the relationship between a sucker fish and a whale? Only the fish isn't really interested in whether the whale exists or not, only that it doesn't fall off and die.'

Sucker fish, remora, intestinal parasite -- we don't have an approved aquatic metaphor for the relationship. But that's not the point. We prefer the term 'festive season.'

Which is a euphemism for Christmas, of course.

Yes. And 'Happy Euphemism' is acceptable on store property. You must understand that this is not about Christmas, but about the holiday season, which encompasses many beliefs.

Hence the trees, the lights, the berries, the Santa costumes, the Nutcracker statues, the Nat King Cole music on the speakers, the poinsettias, and other symbols of Hinduism. Come on! It's Christmas! What's the problem?'

Sir, you needn't use that tone of voice. It's hostile, and --

'It's not hostile. It's festive! See? I'm happy! Big grin. I'm happy for a variety of reasons, and one of them is the yearly reminder that my britches are not as tightly cinched as yours. You could celebrate every single religious holiday and I wouldn't mind. If your staff all wished me a merry whatever, I'd take it as an expression of goodwill. The other day, for example, the Disney Channel had a little ad between shows wishing the viewers a Happy Hanukkah. My kid asked what that meant, and I explained it as best I could, even spinning around like a giant dreidel. We went to the grocery store and got latkes, even. With some nice cream cheese. If anyone had looked at us, your textbook goyim, and said 'Happy Hanukkah' I would have taken it as a warm and friendly wish to celebrate the goodwill inherent in the holidays crucial to the great religions. So why can't I say Merry Chris -- no. Wrong question. Why can't you say it?'

Sir, this conversation no longer sounds real, but has come to resemble a fictional contrivance designed to make you seem sensible at my expense. I shall have to pepper spray you.

AAAUUUGGHHH! Man, I hate it when my straw dogs fight back. Have to go wash out my eyes. Hold on.

There. Anyway. I probably exaggerate a bit, but I spent yesterday at the Mall, and the word 'Christmas' was nowhere in sight - except for the signs that detailed the holiday store hours.

They were closed on Christmas, for some peculiar reason.

I don't get it. There's this peculiar fear of Christmas that seems to get stronger every year, as if it's the season that dare not speak its name. Check out the U.S. Postal Service Web site: two different stamps for Kwanzaa. One for Eid, two for Hanukkah. Two for non-sectarian 'Holiday,' with pictures of Santa, reindeer, ornaments, that sort of thing. One for the Chinese New Year. One for those religiously inclined -- it features a Madonna and Child. But the Web site calls it 'Holiday Traditional.' The word 'Christmas' doesn't appear on the site's description of the stamps. Eid, yes. Hanukkah, yes. Kwanzaa, yes. Christmas? No. It's "Holiday Traditional."

1 comment:

history of santa claus said...

Well done on a nice blog Blogger. I was searching for information on santa suits and came across your post The traditional yule fear factor - not quite what I was looking for related to santa suits but very nice all the same!

We're all getting ready for Christmas and I've just put the finishing touches to my new site specially for kids, or rather their parents and relatives. You can go there and get Santa to send a really nice personalized letter to a youngster. It's great fun! If you have a moment, perhaps you'd enjoy taking a look: Letter from Santa .

Well, a merry Christmas to you and yours!