War on ‘Merry Christmas’

An anonymous submission to TalkBack, the online comment feature of the Aiken Standard, left the following comment:

I went to (a retailer) to purchase something and was waited on by a very nice lady who told me that they were not allowed to wish people a Merry Christmas out of fear of offending them.

This prompted the staff of the South Carolina news organization to try their own social experiment:

…is the ‘war on Christmas’ battle being fought in Aiken, S.C.?  We at the Aiken Standard wanted to find out.  During our day-to-day out at stores and eateries, we said to clerks we hoped they had a Merry Christmas and gauged their reactions.

They have published their findings in an article entitled, War on ‘Merry Christmas’, describing the reaction they received at 10 local businesses.  While they received a return response of “Merry Christmas” only twice, they received no negative responses.  With the fiscal impact Christmas brings, one clerk knowingly replied, “I hope so, too. This is retail, you know.”

Following their template, I decided to document the responses I have experienced here in Riverside, CA so far this year.  The responses I have received after saying “Merry Christmas” to clerks, etcetera:

  • Salvation Army Red Kettle bell-ringer outside of JC Penny’s: “Happy Holidays” (note: no joke – by his appearance, he looked homeless; how much worse can it get when homeless people are politically correct?)
  • Fragrance sales clerk at Macy’s: “oh, uh…Merry Christmas” followed by, “I never know what to say to anyone” in a whisper, with facial expressions and hand gestures conveying frantic embarrassment.
  • Three Wal-Mart cashiers (separate occasions): “Merry Christmas”
  • Citbank customer service clerk: “You too”

Okay, I confess, I haven’t done much shopping yet.  But I will say that retailers seem to be slowly, if not tentatively, drifting back to normalcy regarding Christmas except, perhaps, in their advertising departments.  In fact, there appear to be warring factions struggling to control promotional campaigns with one side winning in print ads, and the other side winning on the retailer’s website, or on TV or radio ads, or in-store displays, etc.  The result makes it look like the left hand doesn’t know what the right hand is doing and so some retailers come off looking schizophrenic.  It’s almost humorous.

The real fronts, however, remain in the entertainment/news industries, schools, municipalities and, perhaps most of all, the human resources industry.  Not coincidentally, liberal philosophy thrives unchecked in these arenas, whereas, the retail industry needs to make a profit to survive.

Please be sure to share the responses you’ve received in your comments to this post.



  1. 1
    rowin Says:

    Christmas is on radio http://www.eeradio.com

  2. 3
    troper Says:

    I may regret having approved Stacey’s comment (consisting of a link to her response posted on her blog). I normally reject comments that use foul language, but decided that since her language doesn’t actually show-up on my blog I would leave it to my readers to decide whether or not they wanted to subject themselves to it.

  3. 4

    I think this whole thing about wishing ‘Merry Christmas’ or not as not to offend anyone is beyond ridiculous! http://trouterusa.com/2007/12/16/putting-christ-back-in-christmas/

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