Sunday, November 4, 2007

Do We Have to Say Merry Christmas?

It's about time for the annual angst from the American Family Association about what stores allow or say or use in the advertising. Oh, I forgot. The magic word they will fight so hard over is the word........ Christmas.

Here's the issue. Many retailers now understand that their customer universe has expanded beyond the traditional Judeo-Christian shopper. Out culture is now becoming a larger and larger melting pot. There are now people, as there has always really been, from different cultures and religious perspectives.

There are several holiday celebrations that happen between the last burp of Thankgiving dinner and the last hangover head ache of the New Year. And the list of those celebrations continues to grow. So why shouldn't stores promote the holiday season with seasons greetings since so many holidays and other celebratory days fall in that 40 odd day time period?

To assure they don't offend anyone and are inclusive of all, many retailers have resorted to making their holiday greetings and advertising more related to the season rather than to the specific Christian Holiday.

Many stores suggested that clerks not offer a "Merry Christmas" when ringing a customer through the check out line. But most did not ban a reciprocal response if the customer made first mention. In some cases, I wish I would get a genuine thank you rather than a nonchalant grunt or a mandatory stock phrase.

That's not good enough for the AFA. And of course, talk radio couldn't pass up an opportunity to attack a PC attempt.

I'm not quite sure what the motivating factor of the AFA is. Maybe they should explain it. The comic attached to this writing sort of summarizes my view of the whole thing. It appears that it's more about the fight than the real undrelying cause.

Honestly, the meaning of Christmas was lost long ago when Merry Christmas greetings were in fashion. Commercialism had long outstripped the realization that the promised one was born. So simply saying Merry Christmas isn't going to suddenly make someone crack open the gospels and learn more. It didn't work that way 30 or 40 years ago. It likely won't work with the AFA's annual Merry Christmas dust up.

I'm quite comfortable with making the first offer to have a Merry Christmas by simply saying. And usually I get a big smile back from a very tired store clerk who is probably working two jobs during the holiday season to either pay bills or to earn additional money so their family could have a more bountiful holiday season.

I've always been leery of those who believe we need to impose our faith on others. That to me is what the AFA is attempting to do. Christians seem very eager to impose rather than expose their faith to those who may need it. And a fight for the sake of a fight.

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