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Monday, December 19, 2005

The Bore on Christmas

Posted by on December 19 at 9:44 AM

I was just in Spokane, Washington, the city where my boyfriend grew up. It’s a nice place to be from—far, far from.

Spokane is an overwhelmingly white, overwhelmingly Christian town. There are churches on every corner—there are also restaurants on every corner. Spokane has more restaurants per-capita than any city in American, the locals proudly tell you. The neglect to mention that the restaurants they’re talking about are all McDonalds, Arbys, Applebees, Dominoes, Subways, etc. The impact of all this fast food is apparent everywhere. Come the Rapture God is going to break a serious sweat helping the saved in Spokane ascend into heaven.

Being as Spokane is very, very Christian, there’s no debate there over whether you wish people a “Happy Holidaysā€¯ or a “Merry Christmas.ā€¯ It’s Merry Christmas all the way—which is fine with me. Or used to be. I celebrate Christmas, in my culturally Catholic way. Put a tree up, take my kid to see Santa, hang stockings, bake cookies—basically it’s my childhood Christmas minus Midnight Mass. But I noticed something new when I was in Spokane this weekend: I couldn’t wish people who had wished me a “Merry Christmasā€¯ a “Merry Christmasā€¯ in return. Wishing people a “Merry Christmas,ā€¯ even when I was certain they were Christian, made me feel complicit in this War on Christmas bullshit. I would be sending a signaling that I was one of the troops, just another one of Bill O’Reilly and American Family Association’s Christian warriors.

And then it hit me: Just as the right-wing succeeded long ago in making it impossible for liberals and progressives to enjoy the July 4th, now they’re taking Christmas away too. Patriotism is their property—if you’re not a my-country-right-or-wrong, country-music-listening redneck, you’re made to feel like a hypocrite for celebrating the July 4th holiday. So most of us opt out, ignoring July 4th. We’ve ceded patriotism to the right. And now, thanks to the War on Christmas, those of us who aren’t fundies are going to feel awkward about celebrating Christmas.

So they’re taking Christmas away too—but, hell, not just Christmas. They’re taking holidays, period. From Thanksgiving through the New Year, it all belongs to them. Jesus is the “reason for the season,ā€¯ all of it, every twinkling light, every scrap of tinsel. Doesn’t matter if you’re Jewish or secular or just happy about the arrival of a new year because it brings us closer to the date when George W. Bush is out of office. If you’re down with the holidays, you’re down with Christianity.

So there I was in Spokane, being wished Merry Christmas every time I turned around. And what did I say in return? Respond in kind? Wish ‘em “Happy Holidays” and risk being accused of attacking their faith? Neither. I said, “Yeah, thanks.ā€¯ It was the only thing I could say without feeling like a liar or co-conspirator.

CommentsRSS icon

Dan, why didn't you just reply with, "Thank you, and a Happy Hannukah to you!"

Whoa paranoia!! Maybe you shouldn't bother going east past North Bend next holiday season-- it seems to drive you insane?

Only you can let them take the holidays away from you. July 4 is like Christmas #2 for me and my family.

And there are some great spots in Spokane if you look around for them. Or, you could just stay in Seattle and not have to look so hard, which is what I do.

It may or may not amuse you to know that I picked up my Strangercrombie edition in Spokane during an 18-hour binge drinking fest with my old posse last weekend. I was surprised and pleased to find a stack in Slick Rock burritos downtown. So, you've got a few fans over there.

Fuck them. I'll celebrate whatever I please whenever I please and they can kiss my ass if they don't like it. That's my take.

I've tryed to out do them, until their absurdity becomes plain. I've started responding to "Merry Christmas" with "Happy birthday sweet baby Jesus."

Unfortunately the lesson of the Bush administration is that there really is no level of absurdity that becomes plain to these people.

This is exactly the kind of snobby bullshit that keeps me in a state of constant frustration with the left. They didn't ruin Christmas for you, Dan. You did. It's your simple-minded connotations that are keeping you from wishing them a merry Christmas (or whatever) back. You're viewing all these people as if they're just little Bill O'Reillys running around, waiting for an excuse to mount an assault on liberalkind.

Instead of just assuming that they're all overfed assholes, why don't you practice a bit of the 'open-mindedness' we liberals are supposed to be so proud of and give them a chance to pleasantly surprise you? Just say 'merry Christmas' back. Geez.

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