Sunday, December 23, 2007
Steamboat Springs It's been about 35 years or so since the great Frank Sinatra recorded a beautiful song by this title on his album, "A Sinatra Family Christmas." Whoever wrote it must have been prescient to the tune of at least a few decades. The lyrics proclaim that "Christmas has gone and left no traces." Well, we're getting close.
A couple of years ago, I was mentioning to a few of our employees at our Indianapolis store that we were not politically correct, so they could wish people a "Merry Christmas" instead of "Happy Holidays." One of the ladies came up to me in hushed tones saying, "Gary, we can't do that anymore. Don't you know that we have a Jewish lady here now?"
Rather than immediately telling her just how outrageous that was, I went directly to Sue and told her of the conversation. "That's the most ridiculous thing I've ever heard," she said. "I tell people Merry Christmas all the time, and the people who know I'm Jewish wish me a Happy Chanukuh."
To me, this clearly indicates the enormous divide between what most people believe and the PC emphasis on whether someone, somewhere might be "offended." (George Will refers to these people as "carrying synthetic outrage on their sleeves," hoping someone will say something they can complain about.) A recent poll conducted along political lines had 88 percent of Republicans and 57 percent of Democrats preferring to hear "Merry Christmas" instead of the saccharine "Happy Holidays," and yet the canard that every other person might take offense is not only lingering but apparently building.
I hate to say it, but the primary fraidy cats seem to be business people, just as they are the ones who are proponents of political correctness in other ways as well. Some of this may be understandable because of potential lawsuits, but in this particular instance, they seem to be tone-deaf to the number of customers who strongly object to what amounts to the obliteration of Christmas. It's been projected that if we continue in this fashion of blankly referring to a nebulous "holiday," it won't be long before little children will be saying, "Daddy, what 'holiday' are they talking about?" I've heard that some Santa's in the department stores are now editing the timeless "What do you want for Christmas, little girl?" to "What do you want for the holiday, little girl?" Sick.
I mean, c'mon. When businesses refer to "family trees," "the holiday morning" and even refuse to use the direct name of Dec. 25 by saying "Have a nice holiday," something is going on that obfuscates reality. And that is my biggest complaint. Nothing is more important than truth. Although it may seem like a small thing, when citizens can't call a spade a spade by saying "Merry Christmas" for that special, holy day for the majority of the population, we are subconsciously caving into the lie that this represents an offensive greeting to the majority. It doesn't.
I walked into a local business the other day bearing a sign wishing Merry Christmas to her customers. When I congratulated her on not being cowed, her reply was priceless: "Hey, if they don't like it, I tell them to get over it. We're not politically correct around here."
Yeah, me too.
Gary Hofmeister is the owner and operator of Hofmeister Personal Jewelers in downtown Steamboat, a company he founded in 1973. He is a Director of the Conservative Leadership Council of Northwest Colorado and a former Republican nominee for Congress in the 10th District of Indiana. He made 18 trips