Edit, 22:10 CST Monday 19 Dec 2005 - I wished one of our student secretaries "Merry Christmas, or Happy Hanukkah" this morning, unsure of her religious and ethnic background. She said "It's `Merry Christmas' for me; how about you?" and I averred that it's `Merry Christmas' for me, too. She said "Yeah, you have to be careful about it these days". Now, I've actually heard most of our secretaries talking about church events, but not in this case. When in doubt, I do say "Happy Holidays", but to any of my known Christian friends I never hesitate to say "Merry Christmas".
And now Bill O'Reilly has just finished lambasting Nicholas Kristof in his "Talking Points Memo" on The O'Reilly Factor, for his "Challenge to Bill O'Reilly" in today's New York Times. I watch The O'Reilly Factor less often than the Colbert Report these days, but I tuned in today to see what all the fuss was about.
Frankly, I think it's a non-issue. Certainly I don't think people are furtively whispering "Merry Christmas" and glancing around corners to see whether a lawsuit by the American Civil Liberties Union comes flying at them! I think it's surprising that, according to a poll that Mr. O'Reilly cited, "3% of Americans consider 'Merry Christmas' offensive". I think insisting on `Merry Christmas' as a holiday greeting in a mosque or synagogue might be out of place, but as I see it, that would be rather out-of-context for purposes of this poll.
References: ( Reuters | O'Reilly Factor | Media Matters | Washington Post )
Happy Chrismahanukwanzakah and High Aslanmas to you,