Bonnie Alba
December 3, 2011
Retailers ban "Merry Christmas" at their own risk
By Bonnie Alba

It has become "politically correct" to ban the word "Merry Christmas" from commercials and retail stores during the holiday season. In 2005, there was a big hullabaloo over Target banning Salvation Army bell ringers and they were boycotted by many Christian consumers. The American Family Association keeps tabs on who's "naughty or nice" during the Christmas season.

Since then, many of those consumers base their buying gifts on how retailers express "Merry Christmas" in advertising and store signs. In a 2007 letter to the local paper, a gentleman and his family went on their annual Christmas gift-buying trip to the Mall. What used to make the buying trip a once-a-year experience was sadly missing. No Christmas music and carols of old wafting through the air, No Santa Claus proclaiming his Ho-Ho-Ho's, and No beautiful decorations. Except for a few measly signs of "Happy Holidays," there was nothing to distinguish the season from any other day of the year.

Does it matter? Is consumerism really that important to the retailers, especially the last quarter of the year. Evidently it is since after the first of the year, financial wizards almost always tally up last quarter earnings to point to a profitable year — or not.

Historically Christmas season consumerism will appear as a blip on the radar screen of the twentieth century. Before WWII, mountains of gifts under the Christmas tree were not considered the norm. Only after the war did Christmas, along with the availability of consumer credit, generate the kind of shopping environment Americans enjoyed the next 50 years. The Christmas holiday season became an ever bigger and grandiose gift-giving time, along with the gifts wrapped in bright colors with ribbons and bows.

My Aunt Evie (circa 1905) used to tell us the story of her family's Christmas in the early 1900s. Her mother (my Grandma), besides inviting relatives and friends during the Christmas season, also fed extra meals to the neighborhood hobos and tramps. Grandpa would set up a small Christmas tree upon which they placed candles on each branch and decorated with holly berry strings.

On Christmas Eve, it was a special event to light the candles, turn out the lights and sing Christmas carols. Visitors entering the house and walking by the tree might toss a pair of socks, nylons, a shirt, a pair of gloves or mittens, hats or ties, or a box of candy under the tree, unwrapped, no ribbons. Whoever fit the socks or other items got to wear them. Christmas meals were all important for family and friends around the table. There were so many that they had to eat in shifts. Grandmother loved this time of the year and brought all her cooking-baking skills to the table.

Boomer and X generations have a difficult time imagining Christmas other than as it is now. Just as public schools have fallen into the PC abyss, retailers appear to be following in their footsteps. Forgetting their bottom line, they've fallen for the bland "winter" or "holiday" season. So what's the reason any of us should go out and spend ourselves silly at this time of year?

Christmas is a holy and happy season. The symbolism surrounding Christmas is the fact that God gave mankind a gift — His Son, God in the flesh, Jesus the Christ — to reconcile mankind, His creation, to Himself. Christians not only give abundantly at Christmas but all year. Christmas season is an extra giving time when we seek to give gifts to those we love as a symbolic expression of what God has given us.

Personally I look for the acknowledgment of "Christmas" in the stores where I shop. If they do not recognize Christmas, I shop elsewhere. I may slip up and purchase something from the non-Christmas retailer, but that retailer will receive but a tiny bit of my business.

Maybe our buying habits and the economy are transitioning into something else in the twenty-first century. Internet purchases are rising which translates into less discrimination about which retailer the gift actually comes from. But if Christmas is deleted from the public awareness, confined to home and church, many Christians may revert to an old-fashioned way of celebrating Christmas.

For now, if retailers want to risk PC denial of Christmas as the "reason for the gift-giving season," let them. They will only have themselves to blame for their slimmer profits.

Merry Christmas!

© Bonnie Alba

 

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Bonnie Alba

Bonnie Alba is a "politically incorrect" researcher-writer. Since 1995, her articles have appeared in California newspapers. Previously she served in various Department of Defense positions for over 16 years... (more)

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