The War on Common Decency

The “War on Christmas” was a newsworthy subject this year, with our President and many others striving to bring back the term “Merry Christmas”, instead of the more general “Happy Holidays.” In my opinion, if someone wants to wish me well, I don’t really care how they state it, as long as the sentiment is genuine. Merry Christmas, Eid Mubarak…it’s all good. Furthermore, there are many holidays during this time period; Christmas, Hanukah, Kwanza and New Year’s Eve, to name a few and saying “Happy Holidays” is an easy way to wish someone good tidings for all of them.  Last time I looked, Christmas was considered a holiday, just as mustard and ketchup are considered condiments. But I digress.


I spent the last days leading up to Christmas frantically shopping. This was because I spent the last months leading up to Christmas frantically working, seven days a week, often until 1:00 am or later.

The stores in New York were surprisingly quiet. In only one store, out of at least 8, some of which I visited twice, did anyone ask to help me. In every store, when I left or checked out, I wished the sales associate a happy holiday. Not one initiated the greeting.  Were they so confused as to what was politically acceptable that they chose to skip the gesture completely? Or is it more? I left a comment on a Facebook thread about this, and initially received an outpouring of validation, shown by strangers hitting the “LIKE” button. Then, the inevitable Debbie Downers popped out, deriding me for shopping late when the poor, tired sales associates wanted to be home with their families. ( If I wasn’t shopping, would the store have closed?) One asked me if I had the compassion to tell them that I was thankful for their service when I know they must be tired and missing their families. Remember, this is a person folding sweaters in Zara, not a soldier fighting a war overseas, or a nurse ministering to my every need. But, if you must know, I thanked the few that interacted with me profusely, smiling all the while. Call me old-fashioned, but getting paid to work in a retail store means that while you are there, it is your job to help customers and represent the store at it’s best. (You can read my thoughts on that here.) And yes, I have done it, thank you very much, and while exhausting, I found it much easier than the work I currently do. But I digress yet again.

Here is my point: There was no war on Christmas. The constant clashing of ideals and what it means to be a decent human have given us all battle fatigue this year. Common decency seems to have often gone by the wayside.  If someone wishes you well, smile and return the sentiment. If you aren’t sure what to say, use an over-arching greeting. If you are offended by the term Happy Holidays, instead of Merry Christmas, I would take a moment to examine your priorities. In a year that divided us as Americans so severely, we all need a smile and a pleasant greeting. Is that too much to expect?

photo: Glasshouse Images



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