Conservatives like to convince the easily convinced that there’s a war on Christmas, as if Christmas were some kind of quaint old-fashioned notion under threat of extinction, like quilting or personal privacy. But Christmas is huge. Christmas is the global superpower of holidays. In the supposed war on Christmas, Christmas has all the military advantage: a vast propaganda machine across government, media and the military-industrial-tinsel complex; covert “Secret Santa” operations; the winning of hearts and minds with cookies; and the psychological warfare of bright lights and Mariah Carey.
That there could be some kind of war on Christmas is unthinkable. A border skirmish on Christmas, maybe; a UN sanction on Christmas, tops.
What’s happened over the years, though, is that those who don’t celebrate Christmas have become more vocal in their demands to be included in what you have to admit is a pretty awesome time of year. And really, it’s not as though Christmas has anything against the other holidays. It’s just that Christmas is so big and powerful that sometimes it forgets the other holidays exist at all. Christmas is like the United States, and the other holidays are Canada.
Nonetheless, governments and business have tried to make the holiday more inclusive by, for example, wishing their constituents “Happy Holidays” instead of “Merry Christmas” — which drives the True Keepers of Christmas nuttier than a box of Turtles. “Say ‘Season’s Greetings’ and the terrorists win!” No, no they don’t. The terrorists might smirk humorlessly, but they won’t win.
And here’s the thing: Christmas is barely a Christian holiday anymore anyway. It was a Christian holiday. Well, first it was a pagan holiday, then it was co-opted by the Christians, then it was co-opted by the capitalists and now it’s pretty much been co-opted by the conservatives. But as a religious holiday, Christmas in North America is like Joan Rivers after all her plastic surgeries: barely recognizable.
Whether secular or religious, though, the heart of Christmas remains intact: the hope for better days and of peace and joy.
Unfortunately, the made-up war on Christmas is making some people hold back on expressing their seasonal hopes in the way they would like, which I think is a shame. In fact, I would like to express myself, with a song:
Have yourself an ostentatious Christmas
Light your tree up bright
Don’t feel you should
Hide your manger out of sight
Feel free to wish me a Merry Christmas
It’s just a thing we say
So much nicer
Than “Hey, bud, you’re in my way.”
Please don’t fret about Hannukah
It’s come and gone-ica a spell
Don’t be cowed by the atheists
’Cause they’re going straight to hell
There’s no need for Christmas to surrender
Spread your love about
Let your ostentatious décor all hang out
Unless you are a Quebec public servant now
And that’s it, which makes me think, if we must declare war on something, it should be on horrible musical parodies. Merry Christmas, everyone.
This piece originally aired on CBC Radio’s “Breakaway.”