Wednesday, December 18, 2013


From HuffPo:

Punched For Saying 'Happy Holidays'

The so-called "War On Christmas" is getting out of hand, as Salvation Army bell-ringer Kristina Vindiola found out recently in Phoenix, Ariz. She wished a woman "Happy Holidays" as she stood outside Wal-Mart collecting funds for the charity. The stranger responded, "Do you believe in God? You're supposed to say Merry Christmas," and punched her in the arm, reported ABC 15.

More here, with video.

Just bear with me for a moment; I'll come to the point quickly enough.

I love the American flag.  Indeed, I love America.  But in that short span between 9/11 and the US invasion of Iraq I found myself facing a dilemma.  I don't know if this was actually the case, but all those American flags flying VIRTUALLY EVERYWHERE for months and months, on cars, in yards, at businesses, on suit coat lapels, as television bumper graphics, just everywhere, struck me as being far more about getting revenge for the terrorist attacks than about loving America.  I mean, if you asked anyone at the time why they were flying the flag so often, he or she was very likely to say it was for love of country.  But it was almost impossible for me to take it out of context: our national pride had been deeply wounded, and someone, lots of someones, actually, were going to PAY.  And pay they did.  They're still paying, in fact.

Here was my dilemma.  Even though the omnipresent overflowing of stars and stripes was quite cool in its own way, reminding me, even, of the 1976 bicentennial celebration of my childhood and other good vibes, it was clear to me that this was about supporting wars I strongly opposed.  And it kind of pissed me off that the symbol I love had been culturally twisted to mean something it does not mean--freedom and democracy, needless to say, are not the same thing as blood and revenge.  My country had gone crazy, it seemed to me, re-branding itself as a nation of warriors hellbent on killing Muslims, any Muslims, because a very few Muslims had killed some Americans.

Sadly, I never resolved this dilemma.  I just had to suck it.  Insanity, grief, and national emasculation had stolen my treasured symbols of citizenship, making them mean their near opposite.  Very fortunately, however, this ended up being a temporary state of affairs.  As our revenge-fueled imperialistic wars on Muslim nations faltered and began to drag on and on, the flag-waving hysteria began to subside, and, finally, disappeared altogether.  I could once again love the flag without worrying about how doing so might be misinterpreted.

So what the hell does this have to do with the fictional "War on Christmas"?  Quite a bit, actually.  I love Christmas, and I love saying "merry Christmas."  But as this stupid "war" has dragged on and on over the years, it has become impossible for me to speak the phrase without thinking that, for a certain segment of the American population, I am somehow fighting in that "war" on their side.  But there ARE no sides because there is no "war"!  I mean, if I'm on a side at all, it's the side that says this is f'ing stupid.  There's no freaking war on Christmas, and, for that matter, you can say whatever the hell you want, "happy holidays," "happy Chanukah," "season's greetings," whatever.  It doesn't matter.  No "war," and freedom of speech.  Just enjoy Christmas however the hell you want.

It just pisses me off that I can't say or hear "merry Christmas" without feeling like I'm caught up in forces beyond my control, or like the phrase now means something totally counter to what I've always thought it meant.  Because, really, for these "War on Christmas" people, "merry Christmas" is now an angry call to arms, not a celebration of peace on earth and good will toward men.  It's almost exactly like my dilemma with the flag in the early 2000s.  Angry, ill informed, totally misguided Americans are doing their damnedest to redefine something I love.  I hate it.

Hopefully, as with the bloodthirsty flag-waving of a decade ago, this, too, shall pass, and I'll have Christmas back the way it was before.  But right now, unfortunately, such a cease-fire in the "War on Christmas" doesn't seem likely.  Not as long as Fox News believes it's good for ratings.