It seems I struck a nerve or two on my Facebook the other day (number of people shocked by this: zero.) when I went off a bit on this alleged "war on Christmas". I gained the ire of theists and atheists alike, which is always a good indication I've done something right.
Here's the deal: I don't give a shit what you say, whether it be Merry Christmas, Blessed Yule, Joyous Kwanzaa, Happy Hannukah, Happy Holidays, or "thank fuck we all get a day off!". I think this war on Christmas has been completely manufactured, just like most other wars, by small groups of indignant people with nothing better to do than take offence to holy shit everything. That said, I do also sympathize somewhat with both major camps:
Christians* seem to feel, and perhaps rightly so in some cases, that the end-goal of many is to ensure they cannot express their religion anywhere but in the privacy of their own homes and churches, and that us evil heathens absolutely hate anything that even vaguely smells of Christianity. This isn't true, of course, but I have indeed encountered several strong atheists that seem to take this position, and have witnessed what I consider some pretty petty moves in this direction. The idea that Christians are persecuted is laughable, but the idea that some people take offence to even mentioning God in public may actually have some merit.
Non-Christians*, on the other hand, seem to feel that there's an obnoxious assumption behind terms like "Merry Christmas"; that is, that everyone subscribes to the same belief, and is part of the same culture, and that we will all be partaking in your festivities. Again, that isn't necessarily true, but it has some merit, as evidenced by some of the more questionable "war on Christmas" slogans.
I'm of two minds about this. On the one hand, I'm a fan of inclusiveness. I think, particularly in a multicultural, legally secular and culturally multi-religion society, it is preferable to extend greetings that can apply to everyone. On the other, I think it a bit tragic to get offended when someone offers you a sincere wish of goodwill. Is everyone sincere? Of course not, and I'm sure some people say Merry Christmas or Happy Holidays with a snide intention. But, by and large, I still have enough faith in humanity to assume no ill-intent in someone offering me a greeting.
What I see going on here is not a war on Christmas. I see a war on goodwill in general. I see people that are so hung up on their religious, political, or cultural affiliations, that they are actually angry that someone had the nerve to wish them well. And you know what? It's a fucking disgrace. People have bought into this war in much the same way they buy into the others - you know, those real wars in which people really die and are really persecuted. They've heard just the right propaganda to send them into a tailspin of fear and anger, to see them as the enemy, and to take all of their words as further proof of their agenda for total control. When someone gets offended at hearing "Merry Christmas", what I hear is "stop pushing your religion on me, you arrogant, self-righteous asshole!". When someone says "don't take the Christ out of Christmas!", what I hear is "no other religions or cultures count for shit; the winter holidays are ours and ours alone". When someone gets offended by "Happy Holidays", what I hear is "someone that isn't the same religion as me had the audacity to wish me well! How very dare they!"
And then, I get really, really depressed. With all the horrible things going on in the world, with all the real persecution, with all the real war, with all the real atrocity people encounter everyday, one would think any sort of pleasant greeting would be appreciated and returned. It's nothing short of a tragedy that two simple words expressing hope that we enjoy our holiday is worthy of offence. The war on goodwill has been waged, and I for one am opting out. Feel free to wish me anything you like, and I will do the same. Step down from your pulpit, and join me for a pumpkin spice latte and some shortbread. And, for the love of all that is good, chill the fuck out and enjoy your holiday.
*yes, yes, I'm well aware this does not apply to all Christians or all atheists. That's sorta the point. It's the tiny minorities in both groups that have led us blind, deaf, and dumb into their battlefield.