This time of year, the people at Fox News predictably start chattering about the by-now infamous war on Christmas. Accordingly, the people over at Daily Kos and other liberal motherships (like MSNBC, these days) start shooting back. A recent Rasmussen poll found that a majority of Americans would rather see “Merry Christmas” on ads and such. Republicans vastly preferred it, while Democrats were more tepid. I will break with my liberal brethren here and say that I actually prefer “Merry Christmas” to “Happy Holidays”… and I don't even celebrate Christmas.
I'm Jewish, so I do Hanukkah, which happens to fall sometime in December each year and often overlaps Christmas. If you've read about this “controversy” at all, you've probably heard that Hanukkah is a “very minor holiday,” which is sort of true. There's nothing to it besides lighting the menorah and eating fried potatoes. It is the only Jewish holiday with a tradition of public decoration, but the similarities with Christmas stop there. When “Happy Holidays” replaced “Merry Christmas,” it was (as far as I understand it) meant to be read as an attempt to include a Jewish celebration as part of the “holiday season.”
However, I just think “Happy Holidays” is totally unnecessary. I am not offended by the existence of Christmas. I know that the vast majority of Americans celebrate Christmas, and that they find it a festive and enjoyable time. I'm not out to deny anyone their good times, and I'm really not incensed about being part of a religious minority, at all. In fact, the only thing I am incensed by is the implication that I ought to be celebrating Christmas too, or that Hanukkah is really just Christmas by another name, which it is not.
I tend to think my generation of Jews is somewhat less bent on integration than our parents. Or maybe our parents' attempts to integration were so successful that we don't feel the need to try anymore. As a descendant of intermarriage, perhaps I don't find any novelty in Christmas anyway and therefore am fine with being totally excluded from it now. In any event, please feel free to say or write “Merry Christmas” this month. I won't be offended.