Selwyn Duke
December 22, 2016
Conservatives like "Merry Christmas"; liberals like "Happy Holidays"
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By Selwyn Duke

Ah, liberals. They really are a breed apart (mostly from sanity). And a timely example of how we're a divided nation concerns the conservative/liberal dispute over how to greet people at Christmastime. As the Star- Telegram reports in a piece titled "'Merry Christmas' or 'Happy Holidays'? Your response says a lot about your politics":

Two-thirds of Democrats (66 percent) said stores or business should greet customers with "Happy Holidays" or "Seasons Greetings" instead of "Merry Christmas" out of respect for people of different faiths. Two-thirds of Republicans (67 percent) said stores and business should not go with the religion-neutral sayings.

The poll was conducted by the Public Religion Research Institute, a nonprofit, independent research organization.

The divide also cuts across age groups and religious backgrounds. Two-thirds of young adults (ages 18-29) are in favor of "Happy Holidays," while 54 percent of seniors favor "Merry Christmas."

The poll found white evangelical Protestants (65 percent) and Catholics (58 percent) as the strongest proponents of businesses using "Merry Christmas." Non-white Protestants (56 percent) and religiously unaffiliated (58 percent) favor stores using "Happy Holidays."

Of course, part of the connection here is that young people and non-white Protestants tend to be more liberal.

The newspaper also points out that while Donald Trump's 2015 Yuletide card stated "Merry Christmas + Happy Holidays," Barack Obama's never had "Merry Christmas" written on his. This year's does feature Obama's picture, though, making him "just the fourth known president to ever feature a photo of himself on the White House Christmas card since the tradition began in 1927," reports the New York Post. Well, it is fitting, in a way. Obama has spent eight years playing Bad Santa, stealing from taxpayers to give to those on his "nice" list, which, coincidentally, is exactly the same as his cronies list.

Of course, with Obama about to exit stage left, conservatives do have more about which to be merry. Liberals, not so much. (Except for Hillary Clinton. She has gotten the present of ample time to meander in the Chappaqua woods, hand-in-hand with the love of her life – and of innumerable other lives – Bill.) But since I like to be a uniter, not a divider, a peacemaker and not a scalp-taker, I want to find some common ground liberals and conservatives can share here.

While choosing Christmas cards at a local drug store last year, I found myself next to some early-twenties, stone- faced, quasi-clipped-haired female. I don't remember how our interaction began, but I know at one point she started talking out loud, ostensibly to herself, about how she didn't want any religious cards. The commentary was obviously meant for my ears.

So being the chivalrous fellow I am, I helped her out. I informed her, nicely, that "holiday" was actually a contraction of "Holy Day." The information didn't exactly make her body piercings vibrate with joy. She shrugged it off as if it were no big deal, and I'm not sure if I said goodbye. But I'd hope that I had, as that word is basically a contraction of "God be with ye" – and she seemed in need of His guiding hand.

Another good suggestion for liberals is to spend the next couple of weeks in a place where their senses needn't be accosted with the sights and sounds of the season. North Korea comes to mind. You can be arrested for celebrating Christmas there and executed for evangelizing. Never fear, though, it's not as if you'll want for celebratory occasions. As Time wrote in 2009, "On December 24, many North Koreans observe the birthday of Kim Jong Suk – the deceased mother of dictator Kim Jong Il.... Three days later, they are given a day off work for Constitution Day. Even New Years' Day is more about revolutionary zeal than ushering in 2010, when thousands of North Koreans will walk in a yearly procession to the Kumsusan Memorial Palace at the northeast outskirts of the capital to pay homage to the preserved body of Kim Il Sung, the father of North Korea." Wow, sounds like a blast.

The real problem with wishing liberals a merry (or happy) anything is not that it may offend them, but that it seems like an exercise in futility. Wouldn't the wish "Tearless Tolerance" be more appropriate? Nonetheless, I will say to all and sundry: Merry Christmas and Happy Holy Days – and, hey, may God be with ye.

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© Selwyn Duke

 

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