Shortcuts & Delusions: Christmas Markets
Who are the real heroes this Christmas? The USPS delivery drivers who leave packages on my porch for me to trip over when I leave my house to go to work in the morning. Like Santa, they come in the dead of night and silently deliver Christmas gifts; unlike Santa, they do it without breaking and entering and tracking reindeer poop all through my house (let’s be realistic: there is no way Santa is not stepping in reindeer poop at some point in the night, what with eight of them pulling his sleigh). I’m usually in bed from 10pm to 5:30am, and at some point during that window, my Amazon.com orders are being delivered.
Every December, I get all up in arms and all bent out of shape (often at the same time, to which credit for that feat goes to my Pilates and yoga instructors) when people say “Happy Holidays” and “Season’s Greetings.” If I could work my will, every idiot who goes about with “Happy Holidays” on his lips should be boiled in his own pudding, and buried with a stake of holly through his heart!
I’m not one of those Christians (technically, I’m a lapsed-Roman-Catholic-who-fancies-himself-a-Transcendentalist) that complains about “the War on Christmas.” If I was, I could say something along the lines of, “‘Happy Holidays’ is a politically correct campaign by social justice warriors to enforce the idea that Christmas deserves no higher stature than any other December holiday.” However, if there is a War on Christmas, whoever is waging it is not doing a very good job.
The fact of the matter is that both the secular and spiritual significance of Christmas trumps all other December holidays. Yule is yuge, all the best people say so, believe me. Red and Green is the gold standard for December holidays. Here’s a tip-off that Christmas is the December holiday: IT’S EVERYWHERE! From Thanksgiving until December 25, there are reminders everywhere that Christmas is coming. There’s no lead-up to Hanukkah; Jews don’t display their Menorahs a month in advance. Pagans have no Advent calendar equivalent upon which they count down to, in breathless anticipation, the shortest day of the year.
“Happy Holidays” is a catch-all employed by the lazy and micro-aggression adverse alike. The significance of Hanukkah to Jews is not on a par with the significance of Christmas for Christians. Kwanzaa is completely made up; the only person who actually celebrates it is Rachel Dolezal. And, if you count Winter Solstice and New Year’s as days worth commemorating, you’re not commemorating anything; you’re just into calendars.
Unfortunately, peace on Earth and goodwill toward men is occasionally eroded by lunatics trying to tear open the sliding glass doors of a department store to be the first to take advantage of Black Friday deals, crushing and trampling each other to get inside. What percentage of those people, throwing fists and ‘bows to ensure their unappreciative kid will have this year’s hot trending toy, say “Happy Holidays,” rather than “Merry Christmas?” I’m no Sudoku expert, but I’d wager it’s about 70%.
We have a rule at Being Libertarian that articles have to be “libertarian toned” and at this point in this column I’m sure our Editor-in-Chief is sighing in exasperation, so let me check that box: What drives me nuts is the lengths to which people are willing to travel to avoid “offending” someone. It’s a completely irrational fear. If you are offended if someone wishes you “Happy Hanukkah” or “Merry Christmas” and you don’t celebrate those holidays, you are the one with the problem, not the person uttering it. There’s a reason why it’s called “well wishing.” It’s not done to convert, proselytize to, or agitate those who do not celebrate any particular holiday. Those who can offer the sentimentality of Christmas only after they water it down so that it is unrecognizable, for fear of giving offense, are engaging in the sort of self-censorship that would make college campus SJWs slow-clap in appreciation. If people are unwilling to exercise their right to free speech in this country to say something which should be non-controversial, a well wishing of peace, love, brotherhood, hope, etc., then we may as well hand the Constitution and a magic marker to Harry Reid and tell him to cross it out already. Freedom of speech is one of the most important civil liberties we have, but it isn’t granted to us by the federal government, it is intrinsic to us, and it is stifled much more effectively by self-censorship than by any government interference.
Have you noticed “Happy Holidays” is not said in April, when Easter and Passover are observed, or in September for Eid al-Adha, Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur? It’s strictly a December rhetorical phenomenon. But, at least “Happy Holidays” refers to actual events rather than an arbitrary collection of elapsed time. I reserve an even more acute rage for “Season’s Greetings.” It is a phrase so vague it should be deleted from the public conscious. When someone says “Season’s Greetings” it’s obvious they mean winter, so why not just say “Happy Winter?” The phrase is so vague it may as well be “Time Period Hello” or “90 Day Salutation.”
I received these two images below in my work email:
Why don’t these images just say “Merry Christmas?” Christmas trees, their decorations and stockings scream Christmas! These images express a very specific holiday under a very generic title. Just write “Merry Christmas”, you pussies! Part of my job is to administer shipping of our products to our customers; the two images are from shipping companies. I’m not going to give them my business, out of Christmas spite.
The Berlin Christmas market attack brought to my mind a few things. The first is, after the Japanese Navy bombed Pearl Harbor, Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto allegedly said, “I fear all we have done is to awaken a sleeping giant and fill him with a terrible resolve.” Will this assumed terrorist attack fill German Prime Minister Angela Merkel with the resolve to do something about the recent spate of attacks on civilians within her country’s borders, or is this the final nail in the coffin for her administration? Germany’s federal election is in October 2017; according to current polls, she’s not a shoo-in to win her fourth term. A lot of Germans are unhappy that she opened their country’s borders last year. Can she and her advisers come up with some way to keep Germans safe from terrorists and Muslims offended by liberal German culture, without infringing on the natural rights of peaceful immigrants? If so, it would be a Christmas miracle.
The second thing I thought about after the Christmas market attack were the Christmas truces called between German and British & French forces during World War 1. Christmas of 1914 and 1915 saw fraternization between opposing infantries on the front lines, but by 1916, due to orders from military high commanders and bitterness among the soldiers over the devastation wrought by the Battle of the Somme and other battles, the Noel truce was a Ghost of Christmas Past. 100 years later, German civilians fraternizing among themselves and buying Christmas presents were mowed down by a maniac driving a tractor trailer. War is hell, but can’t it just be hell for soldiers, not just at Christmas, but at all times? Terrorism and drone strikes drag everyone into the fire, not just those who occupy battlefields.
Is it more egregiously tragic and offensive that these Germans were killed while Christmas shopping? Objectively speaking, probably not, but subjectively, it sure feels like it.
Salon.com Headline Watch 12/21/16:
“This Is How Tyranny Begins: Why Will President Donald Trump Continue to Hold Rallies?”
“Donald Trump Transition Team ‘Willing to Pay Anything’ to Not Have to Listen to Kid Rock at Inauguration”
“46 Percent of Americans Want to Get Rid of the Electoral College, and That’s More Than Want to Keep It”
And that’s the way it is, as far as you know.
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