Originally Published: December 23, 2016 6:01 a.m.
Another year, another fake “War on Christmas” is almost in the books.
On Sunday morning, a great many of us will wake up, pad quietly downstairs, pour some coffee and wish our spouses and children a Merry Christmas.
Others among us will light candles, recite prayers, and wish each other a Happy Hanukkah.
Others won’t do anything at all.
But what is certain is that government agents won’t come tumbling down the chimney. No one will try to stop you from giving your kid that Hatchimal thing – assuming you could find one.
Yet, every year, at just around this time, we get hopelessly exercised over whether someone wishing us “Happy Holidays” instead of “Joyeux Noel,” is that final signal that the barbarians are at the gates, the last confirmation that western civilization is about to go tumbling into the abyss.
We’ve spent months staring at each other across the battlements. Clinton supporters. Trump supporters. The determinative minority who cast their ballots for Jill Stein. That guy who voted for Gary Johnson.
None of us agree on anything. So we argue about stuff like this.
But you’d think, at least, we could agree that it’s not how we extend our good wishes to each other during the holidays, rather, it’s the authenticity of the sentiment behind how we say those words that really counts.
I am no less in earnest when I wish those whose religious inclinations are unknown to me “Happy Holidays,” than when I tell a Christian friend “Merry Christmas.”
The warmth behind both is equally genuine. As I am sure it is with everyone else.
Because, as I am so vividly reminded at this time of year, not everyone celebrates Christmas or even Hanukkah, for that matter.
It’s not being politically correct. It’s just being polite.
And, while we’re at it, if the biggest beef you have at this time of the year is whether the clerk at Target wishes you “Happy Holidays” or “Merry Christmas,” I’m calling shenanigans.
When others are sweating the bills and getting food on the table, or, worse, dodging bombs in Aleppo, that is a #FirstWorldProblem of the highest order.
Mere verbiage shouldn’t stand in the way of us being decent to each other.
Our shared humanity should be enough to bring us together - no matter how we celebrate about the holidays or how we extend our good wishes to others.
That’s particularly true after the brutal
and endless campaign cycle that we’ve just gone through.
Sadly, we’re probably going to spend the next four years arguing with each over ... well ... everything.
So you’d think we could put down our spears just long enough to get sloppy together on egg nog and wake up as a country wondering what we did at the office party the night before.
Because when you think about it, Christmas is maybe one of three times all year when Americans are truly united.
The second is the Fourth of July, where we collectively try to convince ourselves that Budweiser isn’t truly awful.
And the third is the Super Bowl, where we join together as one people to proclaim that the Dallas Cowboys are the root of all earthly evil.
Yeah ... I know ... Bellichick. I’m a Patriots fan, and even I get that.
Still, that’s the beauty of the season. For just a couple of days, we can put our differences aside to blast “Christmas is the Time to Say I Love You,” by Billy Squier, because, of course.
You don’t have to be Christian to be overwhelmed by the solemn beauty of a midnight mass. You don’t have celebrate the nativity to be held spellbound by the giddy beauty of twinkling Christmas lights.
Nor do you have to be Jewish to accept the fundamental truth that a well-done latke is its own kind of miracle.
Because when someone looks you in the eye sometime between now and the turn of the New Year, and you feel the warmth radiating off them, that their hope that your all your Christmases (or Hanukkahs or whatever) are bright, is actually physically palpable, that’s the spirt of the season right there.
Happy Holidays. Merry Christmas. However you celebrate, or even if you don’t, I wish you and yours peace.
See you in 2017.
Contact John L. Micek, an award-winning political journalist, at firstname.lastname@example.org.