There’s a story circulating on Facebook about a man—a man without holiday cheer. It seems this poor gent found himself at Target mere days before the big holiday mashup of Christmas, Kwanzaa, and Hanukah. Was he upset with the crowds? Annoyed with the long lines? No, he was unhappy with the repeated proclamations of “Happy Holidays” emanating from the cashiers. "Christmas is about Christ," he said.
Stephenie Lodermeir was queued near the man. "Well, I'm an atheist that celebrates Christmas and this is Target where people that celebrate all the winter holidays come, and Target doesn't want to piss off people of different faiths, because they don't know you. So ‘Happy Holidays’ is simply an attempt to say, ‘have a nice day celebrating whatever you celebrate.’"
According to her Facebook post, Lodermeir received a round of applause.
The war on Christmas
The “war on Christmas” has been battled for years, with retailers on both sides dodging coshes of coal. For over a decade Target has endured claims that they “unofficially” ask employees not to wish patrons “Merry Christmas,” instead to go with the agnostic “Happy Holidays.” Hobby Lobby, on the other hand, was accused of being “too Christmasy” and anti-Semitic thanks to their lack of in-store menorahs.
Each year the American Family Association (AFA) unnecessarily publishes the “The Naughty-or-Nice List” meant to dissuade consumers from shopping at retailers that “use Christmas sparingly in a single or unique product description, but as a company, does not recognize it.” Macy’s, Hallmark, and True Value fall on the “Nice” list, while “Naughty” brands like Nordstrom, Staples, and Barnes & Noble apparently forgot to leave out the cookies.
But do we, the consumers, really care?
Some have Christmas care, and some don’t
But again, do we really care if we’re wished “Merry Christmas” or “Season's Greetings?” Here in the U.S. we’re divided, unsurprisingly. But, here in the U.S. we’re divided about everything, of recent. When it pertains to Christmas tidings, almost half of Americans want stores and businesses to go the nonreligious route, with the remainder favoring the more secular greeting.
When it pertains to Christmas tidings, almost half of Americans want stores and businesses to go the nonreligious route, with the remainder favoring the more secular greeting.
And our political affiliation matters beyond presidential elections. 66 percent of Democrats favor general greetings, while 67 percent of Republicans prefer “Merry Christmas.”
While we say this, it doesn’t exactly translate to lost business. When I walked into Victoria’s Secret (fittingly on the “Naughty” list) last weekend, they were beyond busy with gifting spouses and partners. And AFA’s “Marginal” retailers—Amazon, Starbucks, and Whole Foods—do not appear to be suffering due to their benign ways.
Christmas is cultural
The reality is, Christmas has become a cultural event—for the religious and the non. Pew Research reports that Christmas is December’s dominant holiday with nearly nine out of ten Americans celebrating it. And of those, only 43 percent say it is a religious holiday. Around the world, over two billion people celebrate the Christmas holiday.
And while there aren’t statistics readily available on the number of us eating Chinese take-out on Christmas Day, 79 percent of us will be watching A Christmas Story.
It’s about the celebration
For good, bad, or indifferent, I left my religious upbringing behind many years back—I’ve admittedly become a “Happy Holidays” person. But that hasn't stopped me from appreciating what the spirit of the holiday season means. The values of giving, reflecting, and acknowledging, are all there—Kwanzaa, Advent, Christmas, or Hanukah aside. This is the season of thankfulness and celebration. And yes, I also adore the bright lights, the gifts, and all the glitter of Christmas.
This is the season of thankfulness and celebration. And yes, I also adore the bright lights, the gifts, and all the glitter of Christmas.
When the barista at my local coffee shop wished me “Merry Christmas,” I politely asked him, “Why?” He shyly smiled in the Southern way and said, “Because I celebrate Christmas, and it makes me happy. I wish the same happiness to you.” And so in turn, I wished him, a very “Merry Christmas.”
When she's not packing suitcases or unpacking boxes, Sarah guides the editorial content for all Relate publications and events. Her favorite subjects are customer experiences, contact centers, and optimistic relationships. Sarah’s most difficult personal relationship is with collections—they make moving difficult—yet, she’s still managed to amass too many addresses, books, corgis, and gym clothes. Find her on Twitter at: @stealeyreed.