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Am I alone? That’s the question I asked my sister, Patricia, a mother of three children who lives in northern New Jersey.
“No, you’re definitely not imagining it,” she said. “It’s something I’ve noticed, too. Whereas we once felt free to say Merry Christmas, I feel we can’t say it anymore — and I’m not sure why.”
Trish explained: “I’ll find myself saying Merry… Holidays! Because if I say Christmas — I don’t know. People are just embarrassed and self-conscious to say that nowadays.”
THIS SURELY RANKLES many Americans, who rightly sense that something is amiss when simply saying “Merry Christmas” is thought to be in poor taste and a violation of social etiquette. Credit Mike Huckabee for tapping into this latent sense of loss with a brilliant, positive — and, yes, inclusive — campaign commercial.
Substituting “Happy Holidays” for “Merry Christmas” ostensibly is done to accommodate the sensibilities of those Americans who are not Christian — Jews, Muslims, atheists, and agnostics, et. al. But Americans of good will do not begrudge the Christian — and non-Christian — celebration of Christmas.
In fact, most Americans rather like our national celebration of Christmas, because it infuses our civic relations and our civic discourse with a greater sense of charity and commitment to our neighbors and to our fellow man.
That’s why, in 1870, President Ulysses S. Grant signed into a law legislation declaring Christmas a national holiday. (This law, incidentally, was upheld by the liberal Supreme Court seven years ago.)
Grant was the commanding Union General during the Civil War. He accepted the Confederate surrender at Appomattox in 1865 with what can only be called Christian grace, generosity, and compassion.
Indeed, Grant paroled all Confederate officers and enlisted men, allowed the Confederates to keep their livestock (horses and mules), and arranged for 25,000 rations to be sent to hungry and starving soldiers of the Confederate States Army of Northern Virginia.
General Grant eschewed vengeance because he wanted to heal the wounds of the Civil War, reconcile the North and the South, and restore the United States of America. That same desire for national reconciliation and national unity was uppermost in Grant’s mind when, as President five years later, he acted to make Christmas a national holiday.
Grant understood that Christmas, far from being a divisive event, is instead one of the great cultural underpinnings of our republic.
Of course, the religiously devout seldom have a problem with public displays of other faiths, provided there is a free and open public square. Certainly, this is true in America today, where a common, shared morality tends to bind together religiously observant folk, be they Christian, Jew, or Muslim.
I even saw this as a Marine in Iraq, in 2003. I traveled throughout much of the country relatively unencumbered and met hundreds of Iraqis, some of whom I got to know fairly well. They sometimes asked of my religious faith.
The Iraqis’ awareness that I was a practicing Roman Catholic who carried the Cross, Rosary Beads, and a prayer book seemed to instill in them a greater sense of confidence that I was a man of my word who could be trusted. (Not that I would, either then or now, hold myself up as any paragon of Christian faith and observance; to the contrary. But as the old adage has it, there are no atheists on the frontlines.)
IN REALITY, THE cultural putsch to ban any public saying of Merry Christmas in America stems not from other religious groups, but from militant secularists and God-haters. (Think ACLU.)
A man of faith in a godless age is hitting Americans where it hurts.
Mr. and Mrs. American Spectator Reader, let P.J. O’Rourke talk sense to your kids.
In Britain, defending your property can get you life.
The debacle of this president’s administration is both a cause and a symptom of the decline of American values. Unless Congress impeaches him, that decline will go on unchecked. An eminent jurist surveys the damage and assesses the chances for the recovery of our culture.
It won’t take long for conservatives to scratch this presidential wannabe off their 2008 scorecard.
The American Christmas, like the songs that celebrate it, makes room for everybody under the rainbow. Is that why so many people seem to be hostile to it?
Was the President done in by the economy, or by the politics of the economy?