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War Against Christmas 2003 Competition [IX]: Three Readers Strike Back!
All that's necessary for the triumph of Holiday is for VDARE.COM readers to do nothing. (Thanks, Edmund Burke!)
But in fact VDARE.COM readers are doing a lot—beginning the long face-to-face, incident-by-incident process of confrontation that will ultimately result in the comeback of Christmas.
A reader who modestly wishes to be called "Roach" sent us this powerful email he sent to the Harry and David direct-mail fruit service:
"I was surprised to see that, when I clicked on 'Holidays' on your website, the only Holidays mentioned were Hannukah and some unnamed holiday at this time of year called 'holiday.'
"I'm a Catholic. I celebrate Christmas. Ninety percent of this country celebrates Christmas. There is no reason for your website or your company to ignore this fact. There is no reason recognizing this fact should be offensive to anyone, even if they are not Christians.
"I'm not offended that Jews celebrate Hannukah. I wouldn't ask them to call it their 'holiday.' I expect the same respect.
"Christmas is a holy and significant celebration for Christians; it's not some random and interchangeable day, and it has a name.
"P.S. I couldn't find a single card that mentioned Christmas in your internet customized card department. Pathetic. "
He received this flapdoodling reply from firstname.lastname@example.org
"Our apologies for any disappointment regarding the options available – we appreciate you taking the time to write and the opportunity to explain.
"Ours is a diverse society. While we do not endorse any specific religious or worldly practices, we are a catalog company that mass markets to millions of customers and as such, we attempt to offer both products and card options that reflect the many tastes of our customers. As a service oriented company, our goal is simply to provide options that people across all spectrums of society would like to give and receive. For this reason, most of our gifts and card options available are geared toward more generalized gift giving and are suitable for different occasions and for which demand warrants inclusion in the selections offered through our service.
"Please be assured that if repeated requests for a specific type of card are received, we would certainly consider including such an option. The greeting you yourself choose to include is always available for the celebration for Christmas, Hanukkah or any other specific holiday you participate in. "You should know we have also forwarded your comments to our Marketing Department.
"Above all, […], we would like you to know that we would never knowingly discriminate against any particular segment of our society, large or small, and the items and options offered are in no way based on such. We appreciate the fact that you shared your concerns with us and hope to have the opportunity to serve you in the future. Again, our apologies for any disappointment.
Customer Sales and Service
Harry and David
The Khristmaskampf makes you a connoisseur of this sort of thing—just as anglers get to enjoy seeing fish wriggling on the hook.
As an editor, I smell that this letter began as a bald-faced attempt to claim that commercial necessity required greetings had to be aimed at the broadest possible market – only to be clumsily rewritten by someone who realized this was incompatible with simultaneously offering the Hanukkah option. This leaves the company with no explanation at all.
Note that "Roach's" comments are to be forwarded to Harry and David's Marketing Department. Readers who want to join in can click here.
In Portland, Oregon, Kerri Jones is a veteran of the Kristmaskampf. Last year, she explained her personal campaign to counter-pressure retailers. This year, she provided an example:
"The response I received [from email@example.com] was polite, but unapologetic and resolute.
'Dear Ms. Jones,
'Thank you for your recent comments about the use of the word 'holiday' in our advertising, and the absence of the word Christmas. We're sorry that we've offended you.
'As our neighborhoods and communities and world become more and more homogenous representing many different cultures and religions, the retail industry recognizes that the holiday season is not exclusive any longer to the Christian faith alone."
"Wait a minute! How can our neighborhoods be getting 'more homogenous' while at the same time becoming so diverse that Christmas must not be allowed to dominate the 'holiday season'?
"At first, I thought perhaps the writer had confused homogenous with heterogeneous. After further consideration, I suspect it is far more likely that she is representative of the increasing inability of many to distinguish between rational and irrational thinking.
"The acceptance of the convoluted premise that our differences make us more alike, and that because we are alike in our differences we must deny our differences to ensure that we remain alike, is crazy on its face...
"It's obvious that the retail industry's banning of Christmas is not about inclusion of various cultures and faiths, but about exclusion of a particular culture and faith, specifically the one that uses the word "Christ."
"I don't believe the big brains of retailing initiated the ban, they can't even defend it intelligently, but they have certainly fallen into line with the newly established monocultural order.
Mrs. Jones is certainly right that the Khristmaskampf has no commercial explanation. A Georgia reader has a telling tale:
"In our county—Cobb, in metro Atlanta—school principals were instructed to direct all teachers that they may not wish students 'Merry Christmas,' and must substitute if necessary a 'non-religious,' 'holiday' greeting.
"This politically correct mindset was seized with a vengeance by my son's kindergarten teachers.
"Following is a note announcing my son's 'Around the World celebration':
'We are going to have an Around the World celebration on Monday, December 15th. We would like to know if you have a special recipe that you would like to make for our class. Please return a description of the recipe and where the recipe originated. Also, if you would like to come share some information about a different country or culture, please note that also! Thank you for your participation. Ms. XXXX'
"This event was scheduled in place of the usual 'Holiday' celebration, for which all parents had given donations, due to protests from several of the parents about perceived over-emphasis on Christian symbolism at the school.
"I've yet to find the slightest evidence of this symbolism anywhere in the building or in anything presented to my child. The only 'holiday' reference he has reported is that his assistant teacher—who is Jewish—had read a book on Hannukah and had held up a menorah to explain the meaning of the candles and the miracle oil.
"I've just returned from this 'Celebration,' and found it to be quite an interesting presentation of cultures including those of Wales, Kazakhstan, and what was described as 'Israeli.'
"Upon arrival, I noted that one table was covered with a tablecloth featuring depictions of the menorah, the Star of David, and dreidels in colorful holiday colors. This table was laden with matzoh ball soup, chocolate 'gelt', latkas, and three massive menorahs in various configurations, including one with electric blue lightbulbs.
"The mother who had laid out this table, apparently with the help of two other Jewish mothers in the class, gave a twenty-minute presentation with her daughter on Hanukkah, including an explanation of the Maccabees family, a dreidel demonstration and many references to Hebrew traditions and Judaism.
"Since this was ostensibly a 'non-religious celebration' at the direction of the lead teacher, I was somewhat taken aback.
"I presented a brief talk on my grandparent's cuisine in the Appalachian Mountains near Big Stone Gap, Virginia, and discussed the corn bread I had prepared in one of my old Lodge skillets. (The book I used was Smokehouse Ham, Spoon Bread, & Scuppernong Wine: The Folklore and Art of Southern Appalachian Cooking, by Joseph E. Dabney – an amazing cultural touchstone.)
"In the spirit of inclusiveness I had also plumbed the web to find a kosher cornbread recipe, and had prepared that batch using all-new utensils and a new pan. This batch, incidentally, was untouched by the kids and parents.
"Winging it, due to my surprise at the 'historical' dissertation I'd just witnessed, I also related to the kids our family's continuing tradition of reading the story of Christ's birth found in Luke, Chapter 2.
"My brief comments included the only references to 'Christmas' spoken by anyone during the 'Celebration.'
"I've requested a meeting with both teachers to be scheduled before the 'Holiday' break. I'm planning on congratulating the assistant for presenting a story to the kids that obviously has great significance to her, and for displaying her desire to be an educational light for these kids. I have more choice words planned for the lead teacher, as I find her politically-correct response to bully tactics to be disappointing and a poor lesson for my son.
"Our New Year's Resolution: A new family budget to include private Christian education funds for both our children.
Subsequently, the Georgia reader wrote:
"I have followed up with my son's teachers and principal. I protested the Hanukkah presentation to which he was subjected, and the removal of all observations of Christmas from his classroom experience, religious or secular.
"I was told by the principal that the Jewish families in my son's class protested the Nutcracker performance his grade level attended as being overtly religious [!!!], and had demanded that all children should forgo the experience if their own children couldn't enjoy this or any school activity.
"This and other protestations are the norm for these parents. Apparently they have been increasingly strident as each successive generation enters the school."
Good for them! Stridency! That's what's needed to take Christmas back.
Final note: last year, I related my own unstrident struggle to get our partners at Amazon.com (enter through VDARE.COM when buying books and we get a commission at no cost to you!) to explain why they wouldn't offer a Christmas logo as part of their annual promotional drive. Eventually, Amazon told me it didn't have an official explanation—and wouldn't respond to any more queries on the subject.
This year, I was all set to take the matter up with Jeff Bezos himself. But Amazon doesn't seem to have offered any promotional logos at all. (Or at least not to VDARE.COM).
Next year, Christmas or bust!