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The War on Christmas

December 7, 2015


My ninety year old mother was hot under the collar when she called last week. “What’s wrong?” I asked.


“I just received a card from management.”


“How nice,” I replied. My mother lives in a retirement facility.


“It isn’t nice at all,” she spat into the phone. “The card says “Happy Holidays and doesn’t even mention Christmas. There’s a war on Christmas, in case you didn’t know.”


I should have agreed and avoided the quicksand of another political conversation with a woman who only watches FOX News and thinks Donald Trump exactly what this country needs, but instead I proved my intellectual limitations by saying, “There is no war on Christmas. How could there be if 95% of Americans classify themselves as Christians? People like Bill O’Reilly promote this nonsense to increase their ratings. I really wish you’d turn your TV dial to another channel.”


“I don’t watch Fox News.”


“Mom, do me a favor and turn down your TV. I can hear O’Reilly in the background.”


The TV goes off, but not before she accidentally hits the volume button and the words “No Spin Zone” explode in my ear.


“There is most certainly a war on Christmas,” she insists. “I just watched a story where a city hall in a southern state had to remove a nativity scene.”


I took a deep breath. “There’s no war on Christmas. But we do have separation of church and state in this country, which was one of the best ideas codified into our Constitution. We are a nation of many different peoples, and non Christians and atheists should not have their tax money used to support a religion.”


She was unmoved. “Before long you won’t even be able to wish someone a Merry Christmas.”


I sighed. “There is no law preventing you from wishing anyone a Merry Christmas, or from placing religious items on your own property. I have no problem wishing anyone a Merry Christmas, a Happy Hanukkah, Ramadan, Diwali, Kwanzaa, Chinese New Year or Festivus. This is the time of year for many holidays, as it was thousands of years before the birth of Christ.”


“One day you’ll wake up and realize that Christmas has been taken away from us. Then you’ll be sorry.”


“If memory serves, last year you and countless others bitched and moaned that Christmas was coming too soon, before Thanksgiving turkeys had even been defrosted. How can there be a war against something if every year it comes sooner and sooner?”


She had no response.


“Besides, if there was a war on Christmas you’d be the general leading the charge.”


“What are you talking about?”


“Compared to you, Scrooge was a merry old elf. Your Christmas decorations gather dust in a closet, you don’t purchase any gifts and for the past five years you’ve refused invitations to spend the day with me, Mrs. Chatterbox and your grandson. You prefer sitting home alone.”


“As an American, it’s my right to do what I want. But you’ve changed the subject. We weren’t talking about me; we were talking about the war on Christmas.”


“There is no war on Christmas!”


“Yes there is!”


“In that case, Mother, let me be the first person this year to wish you a very Merry Christmas.”


Too late. She’d already hung up.




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I don't think there was any arguing with that reasoning. I do think the commercialization is out of hand. And it's sad people want to forget what Christmas really stands for, especially when His name is right there.
By: Alex J. Cavanaugh on December 7, 2015
You must be a verrrrrry patient man. I live in an overwhelmingly red state, so I could have a conversation like that with most of the people around here, but I choose to avoid them at all costs. (The conversations, not the people.) You can lead a close-minded person to logic, but you can't make him think.
By: Susan Swiderski on December 7, 2015
Your dear mother got a head start on Festivus and the Airing of Grievances.
By: Daniel LaFrance on December 7, 2015
There's no reasoning with some folks! I respect your patience with your Mother- I don't think I could do it! You cannot choose your family, but thankfully you can choose your friends! Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!
By: Kathe W. on December 7, 2015
If you would spend some time around some devout atheists, you just might realize that your mother is not as militant as you think when it comes to this. For we live in a very hardcore Christian area, but the local atheist community has still managed to stop several longstanding Christmas festivals and displays from continuing. Of course, what really matters does not change--regardless of which way the political wind may be blowing, but it is a shame that so many on both sides of the issue get so upset over it.
By: Jerry E. Beuterbaugh on December 7, 2015
I hear a lot of that kind of talk around here in very religious Salt Lake City. The other kind of talk I hear is usually from white people complaining that their rights are being taken away. What's really going on in this country that white people are taking offense to is the erosion of privilege. They've seen these as "rights" but they were never rights. White people had the "right" to the best jobs while minorities had to work two or three times as hard and get extremely educated to get the same pay level. White people had the "right" to shove their opinions down everyone's throat, to push their religion on everyone around, etc. etc. It's erosion of privilege...what I like to refer to as a "leveling of the playing field." And makes them mad. When you've been on top of the game so long, you don't want to have to make room for someone else. And I think all of this has to play into the violence disenfranchised white men are inflicting upon the public. Many of them are realizing that all of the promises that were supposed to be theirs for just being white are no longer possible without a ton of hard work. This causes anger, frustration, and because our society sells guns out of the backs of vehicles parked at the rest leads to unfortunate incidences over and over. So I'm going to say your mom is half right in that there's a war on privilege, but only so much as to make sure that EVERYONE, no matter the color of their skin, enjoys the same privileges.
By: Michael Offutt on December 7, 2015
I'll keep in short, "Merry Christmas!"
By: Eddie Bluelights on December 7, 2015
And yet YOU are so normal!! I am not putting up a tree this year, I am just too far behind in everything! I do not regret it, though.
By: Tabor on December 7, 2015
I swear your mother and mine are from the same mold!! Stubborn to the enth degree!!
By: Bouncin Barb on December 7, 2015
And i'm guessing that reminding her the word "holiday" means "holy day," and predates saying Merry Christmas, wouldn't work?
By: messymimi on December 7, 2015
I enjoy the discussions you have with your Mother. It's not only your mother who has issues with's millions more. You or me wishing them Merry Christmas doesn't cut it. They want only Merry Christmas and many more completely narrow minded ideas. You have to pick your battles.
By: red on December 7, 2015
Well, of course there is a war on Christmas! :-p All those people who take their tree down on the day after they realize this is the 2nd day of Christmas? And they take down everything that reminds us of Christmas? My tree - just to demonstrate my love for Christmas - stays up extra long. Once year I took it down on Valentine's Day. Heh.
By: Pixel Peeper on December 7, 2015
Yeah, I hear these conversations constantly. For the record, I'm a church going Christian, flawed and imperfect. But I do believe in separation of church and state. That said...why is it that all the folks who have a problem with Christmas compromise their beliefs by taking the day off? I don't believe in any pagan traditions or Satanism or any number of alternate belief systems. So I just don't participate on any level and wish them well. But it seems a lot of the naysayers have no problem with the benefits of a Christmas holiday... To aetheists everywhere, I offer a heartfelt Happy Day Off.
By: Cherdo on December 7, 2015
Whoa! I don't think I've seen so many passionate comments about a date since April 15th!
By: Val on December 7, 2015
To Cherdo, I have no choice but to take the day off. It's a paid day off. I'd much prefer Chanukah was a paid day off, but the Christian state decided to give us Xmas. Plus, I always off to work on Christmas for my Christian friends. Anyway, this is to say, thank you for arguing against your Mama. I wish she hadn't hung up the phone before you wished her a Merry Christmas. She's a scrooge, but she makes for lots of good writing material.
By: Robyn Engel on December 7, 2015
PS I meant that I "offer" to work Xmas for my Christian friends. =)
By: Robyn Engel on December 7, 2015
For every news story showing a Nativity being removed because someone's nose was out of joint, there are many cities and towns that have theirs up every year with no complaints. My mom, when her mind was good, watched CNN. Actually she still has this on her TV even though she really isn't watching it-just noise for her..anyhoo, my mom would get on a topic and not let go. If I dared to argue with her, it would turn into a tiring day. She lived with me in the upstairs apartment (I own a duplex). Be thankful she hung up the phone:) It actually sounds like your mom is a bit bored and frustrated that she can't do all she used to years ago. You should dust off those ornaments and hang them up in her home:)
By: Birgit on December 7, 2015
Oh, you poor guy! I've thankfully never had to have THAT particular conversation with my mother, but there are other topics she comments on that just drive me up a wall. Some, I 've learned to just bite my tongue over; others, I just can't help myself. By my mother never hung up on me. She would stay on and tell me what an awful/selfish/yadayada/ungrateful son I was. You have my sympathy!
By: Mitchell is Moving on December 8, 2015
Your Mom sounds fun, Stephen and I do with both of you a Merry Christmas! :)
By: Michael Manning on December 8, 2015
At least she doesn't think youlall ought to be spending Christmas with Donald Trump!
By: Jenny on December 8, 2015
"It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas. Everywhere I go..." Hey, sorry, but what's Diwali? I must have missed that holiday.
By: Catalyst on December 8, 2015
It is very easy to say, "Merry Christmas" and each greeting is a battle in this "war." Sorry about your mom's penchant for things Fox and Trump.
By: Tom Cochrun on December 8, 2015
It seems that every other day there's a story on Facebook about some group or other that has been offended by a british flag or a christmas nativity scene - usually these stories are spread by groups with an angenda of spreading hatred and have no basis on reality Anyway - Herod famously had a war on Christmas, and look where that got him!
By: Don\'t Feed The Pixies on December 9, 2015
perhaps if you explained to your mom that Fox news is half owned by a muslim Saudi prince and Saudi Arabia is the source of al Queda and Da'esh ideology and funding and that they use Fox news to spread lies and destabilize this nation to make it easier for the terrorists to win, she might change the channel.
By: ellen abbott on December 9, 2015
Somehow I get some pleasure in knowing you have a difficult mother too. :D Sorry. Actually, I think your mother has a point, to a degree, but then I'm a Christian, but not one that would ever support Trump.
By: LL Cool Joe on December 10, 2015
Oh your mother - such a hard case! I love how you patiently try to reason with her :)
By: The Bug on December 10, 2015
Your interaction with your mother reminds me of the discussions I have with my dad when he is trying to tell me that there was no child abuse in his day! Like you, I should save my breath.
By: Bryan Jones on December 11, 2015
Have a nice day. To Michael O - I hate white people too. Bastards!!
By: cranky on December 13, 2015
I would love your Mother. LOL. But I try not to get upset about the whole "Holiday vs Christmas" ordeal. Just tell your Mom that when someone says "Happy Holiday" they are really saying "Holyday" That might calm her frustration. Merry Christmas!
By: Lisa on December 17, 2015

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