I was appalled to read the recent letter in which the writer bragged of hectoring an unfortunate sales clerk on Christmas and Jesus. In the interests of harmony and goodwill among men this holiday season, I have some facts and suggestions:

  • There is no biblical basis for Christmas. Jesus’ birth date is not in the Bible, nor does the Bible tell believers to celebrate it. In fact, some Christian denominations refuse to celebrate Christmas for this reason. (See next item.)
  • Christmas is not the only holiday being celebrated around this time of year, and it is by no means the oldest. There is Kwanzaa, Saturnalia, Diwali and of course Hanukkah. Yule, which is often used as a synonym for Christmas, was actually once a pagan holiday — and this is not an opinion, but an verifiable fact.
  • The First Amendment grants us the freedom of religion. An employer cannot force workers to betray their faith. Would that letter-writer have endorsed a Muslim employer forcing his female workers to wear headscarves, or a Jewish boss forcing his Christian employees to deny that Jesus was the son of God? Of course not. Every decent American would be outraged.
  • The furor over the phrase “Happy Holidays” is recent. As a child, I knew the obvious: “Happy Holidays” is not a slur against Christians. The “holidays” referred to include Thanksgiving, Christmas and the New Year. Would you rather be told: “Merry Christmas, but I hope your New Year’s Eve party is awful”?
  • On an entirely secular and practical note: This is a very busy season for everyone. Please be considerate not only to your cashier, but to the people in line behind you. If the clerk tells you “Happy Holidays,” accept the well-wishes graciously and do not waste everyone’s time by humiliating him or her and forcing your fellow shoppers to wait. There is nothing to stop you from responding to “Happy Holidays” with “Merry Christmas,” after all.

K.D. McNamara