• Home
  • About
  • Guest Post

    Have a nice day!

    Christopher Hitchens does his James Thomson act on Christmas cheer (via Ann Althouse). OMG, that man is funny. I grew up in one of those literalist Christian sects that considered Christmas and Easter corrupt, the illegitimate grafting of pagan ritual onto Christianity as a cheap, expedient bid by nasty Papists to get converts. Passover, representing Christ’s sacrifice for our sins, was the most important day of the year; and we believed that his autumn birthday was not meant for human observance.

    Therefore, I have no problem celebrating Christmas as the Japanese do. Here, it’s a couples’ holiday. You spend the seven weeks after Hallowe’en listening to so much piped caroling, seeing so much tinsel and blinky lighting, and being exhorted to buy so many red-frosted cakes that by the solstice you’re ready to shoot yourself. Christmas Eve finally arrives, and you and your honey go to a nice dinner and exchange presents. Then you forget all about it and go back to getting ready for the New Year.

    In the States, where genuine religious conviction is part of the equation for many people, I can see why things get more contentious. I still think it would be nice, though, if people remembered to distinguish between censorship (the government kind) and the policies of private organizations. I think bans on crèches on public property and things like that are misguided; as long as other religions aren’t barred from making displays of their religious symbols and, conversely, no one is penalized for not playing along with this or that celebration, I don’t see what the big deal is.

    When it comes to casual greetings, that goes quadruple. If I’m Merry Christmased, I Merry Christmas back. If I’m Happy Holidaysed, I Happy Holidays back. If I’m nothinged, I say, “Thank you. Goodbye!” Is this really difficult? I know all about the argument that Chanukah and Kwanzaa and the rest have been inflated in significance as a response to Christmas and that, therefore, it’s only honest to treat Christmas outright as the Real Holiday of the season. But at the same time, for all the talk about how Easter is the most important day of the Christian calendar, it’s the Christmas season in which public-sphere chatter (not to mention commercialization) reaches its frenzied peak and in which non-Christians are constantly being roped into merry-making…and are regarded as dried up cynics if they don’t oblige. I find it hard to blame people for trying to find a way to endorse their Christian friends’ general state of benevolence without seeming to endorse religious convictions they do not share.

    Ah, you say, but the people pushing for denatured holiday greetings aren’t the friendly Zoorastrians down the street but rather the PC-niks trying to erase any trace of spirituality from public life. Okay. Who cares? Even crabbed, obnoxious people can have a point sometimes. If someone’s trying to get her first-grader’s teacher fired for so much as mentioning Christmas, she should be opposed. But fulminating about blandly worded commercials or about store policies that instruct employees to say “Happy holidays” when they’d rather say “Merry Christmas”? Please. If we’re going for plainspokenness in advertising, then “Christmas is the excuse for this particular sale, but really, we want your money even if you’re Anton LaVey” should fill the bill. If we’re going to let cashiers say what’s in their hearts, how about replacing “We look forward to serving you again” with “Don’t let the door hit your fat ass on the way out, bitch–assuming you can make it through with those three helpings of potato skins”?

    Except at matey establishments with a lot of regulars, part of the art of working with the public is learning to be impersonally polite while giving the illusion of just-for-you friendliness. In a society as diverse as America’s, yes, that often means using the most ideology-free greetings possible. Considering the general state of customer service today, you’d think people wouldn’t be so eager to make a war out of efforts to be soothingly accommodating.

    Added at 6:00: Oh, almost forgot:

    Merry Christmas to you all!

    If you don’t find that sufficiently offensive, here, have a picture of three flagrant homosexuals:


    Would have posted that here, but I forgot to bring my cable to the States with my digicam. Eric is on the left. Tom is on the right. If you know how the process of elimination works, you can find me.

    6 Responses to “Have a nice day!”

    1. Connie says:

      Sorry. That is not what Eric looks like. I will not have my mental images altered by reality. Eric looks Steve McQueen not Joseph Cotton, regardless of what your silly camera says.

      Is that a beard or did you have a hot fudge sundae with your STARBUCKS? Are those Satan’s coffee cups?

      (Merry Christmas! You get more handsome every year.)

    2. Sean Kinsell says:

      “Sorry. That is not what Eric looks like. I will not have my mental images altered by reality. Eric looks Steve McQueen not Joseph Cotton, regardless of what your silly camera says.”

      You don’t think Eric does remind you of Steve McQueen? It’s not so much in the overall shape of the face but in that they both have the ice-blue eyes (okay, you can’t see Eric’s in the photograph, but they’re deadly) and the impish smile lines.

      “Is that a beard or did you have a hot fudge sundae with your STARBUCKS? Are those Satan’s coffee cups?”

      Three days of growth. I give the jowls a rest when I’m on vacation. And we went to the sort of locally-owned-and-operated coffee house that the anti-Starbucks contingent would be happy to approve of. That the menu looked almost exactly like what you’d get at a Starbucks anyway was a nice illustration of life’s little ironies.

      “(Merry Christmas! You get more handsome every year.)”

      You, too. And Kim. And Wendy and David.

      And Isabel.

      When, oh when, will I be loved for my mind?

    3. Eric Scheie says:

      Geez, I’m really getting embarrassed, as I don’t think of myself as looking like either Steve McQueen or Joseph Cotton. Cameras are deceptive, and I don’t think I’m as photogenic (or as handsome) as Sean. (I’m hoping I’ll never have to worry about spouses who might be tempted by him….)

      Sean, your ping — “have a nice day” — got sandwiched between “lesbian threesome” and “anime sex,” and before I knew it, my brutal fascist McCarthyite Mt Blacklist deleted it! I’m hoping you didn’t get blocked, but I won’t know unless you try pinging again. Sheesh; I hate technological glitches like this!

      Connie, and Sean, thanks for the kind words. Merry Christmas to both of you. I hope we can all get together on one of these trips!

    4. Sean Kinsell says:

      Well, I hope it was anime sex and not the lesbian threesome I was mistaken for, ’cause…uh, you know. Anyway, I’ll try resending.

      And when it comes to Eric’s looks, don’t believe him, folks. The man is adorable.

    5. Eric Scheie says:

      No no no! I’m aging, my hair is falling out, and now I’m as red as a beet!

    6. Sean Kinsell says:

      “my hair is falling out”

      All three of us have the power alleys forming there, honey. I think it’s a sign of high androgen levels.

    Leave a Reply