Unlike some cable anchors, I do not care if a salesperson says, Happy Holiday instead of Merry Christmas.
Bill O'Reilly sniffs that if a salesperson refuses to say Merry Christmas, he's out of there. But if that salesperson has been ordered to do so from management, I hardly think that's the fair response to anyone just doing their job. The war on Christmas may still be in effect but after the bruising albeit entertaining primary and election cycle we've endured, shouldn't we all just try and get along for the rest of the year?
Every year since I first started writing op-ed columns (1998), I've written one with a Christmas theme. Now that I write for Jewish World Review, I will offer this one I wrote back in 2011 for America Thinker that is still relevant:
As a child growing up in Spanish Harlem in a run-down tenement building, Christmas always meant a time of good cheer to me regardless of our dire circumstances. My Jewish neighbors (yes, there are poor Jews) would always treat us with Challah bread, sweets and a bottle of Mogen David wine and wish us good cheer for the holidays. In our society's war on Christmas, I hear snide remarks from fellow Christians blaming it on the Jews because some lawyer in the ACLU is bringing a suit against the city to ban creches on public land. All Jews get tarnished by a brush that should be directed at secularists and atheists not by people of faith. Each year I get emails from my Jewish friends supporting the celebration of the Christmas season and decrying the negative attacks on our tradition. They ask "who's behind this war on Christmas? It's not us."
I think it's always wise for writers to follow that age-old adage and "walk a mile in another man's moccasins" to see things from another point of view by imagining themselves in his situation. That means that I try to reflect on how I would feel living in a non-Christian country during one of their religious celebrations. If it meant that the season would be full of good cheer, gift giving from friends and strangers and general bonhomie. I'd join right in with the festivities regardless of the reason for them unless the deity being honored wanted me dead for not being a disciple.
For many, this season has become one big headache due to the level of hostility caused by both a lingering disappointment over the election results and the continuing Radical Islamic attacks, most recently in a Christmas market in Berlin. It has also been alleged that the San Bernadino Christmas Party attack that killed 14 workers was triggered by the Muslim killer's anger at the celebration.
What is so scary about this season that celebrates Christmas and Chanukah that brings out the anger, hatred and contempt in so many individuals who regard it as a simplistic, fantasy of the simple-minded? Many secularists and atheists look down on those who celebrate the season as part of their religious beliefs. Many claim that the smartest intellectuals are atheists and some believe erroneously that Albert Einstein was one but they should read what he actually said:
"I'm not an atheist and I don't think I can call myself a pantheist. We are in the position of a little child entering a huge library filled with books in many languages. The child knows someone must have written those books. It does not know how. It does not understand the languages in which they are written. The child dimly suspects a mysterious order in the arrangements of the books, but doesn't know what it is. That, it seems to me, is the attitude of even the most intelligent human being toward G0D."
Essentially, Albert Einstein was an agnostic and intelligent enough to know that while he did not believe in a personal G0D, he recognized that the world's amazing design demanded belief in a creator G0D. He recognized the remarkable order of the cosmos but could not reconcile that belief with the evil and suffering that he found in human existence. How could an all-powerful G0D allow such suffering? How could a G0D who created such beauty allow the slaughter of innocents?
These are questions that even people of great faith have been pondering for centuries but the answer for many may lie in the Hebrew bible. Here's a quote from the Book of Wisdom of Solomon (1:13-15): "because G0D did not make death, and he does not delight in the death of the living. For he created all things that they might exist, and the generative forces of the world are wholesome, and there is no destructive poison in them; and the dominion of Hades is not on earth. For righteousness is immortal."
Atheists have closed their minds to that love and reveal a blindness that is self-inflicted and prefer to live in a world of superficial emptiness. When my son Matt was only six, he asked me about a word he heard on TV, "What's the Big Bang?" I told him that's how some people believe that's how the world began. He looked puzzled and said, "But what caused the Big Bang?" That seems to be the question that no atheist can answer definitely but a child has the wisdom to seek that answer.
While I really don't care how one greets another at this time of year, I will continue to regard it as a wonderful time of joy that sometimes compels us to behave more charitably with one another. We need to hear more about those secret Santas that pay off the layaway bills for strangers or the cops that take their shoes off to give to a homeless man. We need to ignore the materialism that mars the true spirit and just simply enjoy the fact that the lights, the singing and parties are a welcome break in a harsh time of year.
Celebrating any religious holiday is and should remain a personal choice not an issue to debate. So Merry Christmas, Happy Chanukah, Happy Holiday, whatever, just lighten up. We've had enough of wars.