It’s interesting that the forces of political correctness in the United States have slowly forced us to be ashamed of our culture. Recently I said “Merry Christmas” to a person in a store. I received a quizzical look. After thinking about it, I realized these are words you don’t hear any more. “Merry Christmas” has been replaced by the politically correct “Happy Holidays.”
Bummed out, I returned home and did an online search of words and phrases that we don’t use anymore. Someone forgot to tell me Merry Christmas is not “in” anymore. So I was feeling in need of a refresher about how to speak in public. I learned while reading about political correctness, that the word “failure” has been replaced with the phrase “deferred success.” I had to tell my kids not to use the description “garbage man” anymore and replace it with “sanitation engineer.” I was aware that “handicapped” had been replaced by “disabled,” but was astonished to learn that “jungle” had been replaced by “rainforest.” I imagine it’s because a rainforest is a happy place where cute animals dance and sing and a jungle is a hot place with malaria.
Further aggravating me, on the “Today” show recently was a story about Christmas sweaters whose makers rewrote a lyric from the carol “Deck the Halls.” The sweaters read, “Don we now our fun apparel,” instead of the original, “Don we now our gay apparel.” Someone felt the need for the edit. I wonder who they were protecting with that revision?
Who is the person or persons in charge of changing our words? I know these things usually start out with good intentions, but it seems like an agenda for change gone amuck. What a crazy whirlwind we have gotten ourselves into. Taking the word Christmas out of December has thrown me over the edge. Christmas is both a sacred religious holiday and a worldwide cultural and commercial phenomenon. For two millennia, people around the world have been observing it with traditions and practices that are both religious and secular in nature. Dec. 25, Christmas Day, has been a federal holiday in the United States since 1870. Saying “Merry Christmas” is not an agenda being pushed. It is simply an expression of Christmas spirit. Christmas is one of the great times of the year because of that spirit. People are a little nicer in November and December. Hearing “Merry Christmas” from someone you don’t know is a part of this spirit that people love.
If you are an advocate of political correctness and think saying “Merry Christmas” is bad, I ask you, should we stop saying “Happy Thanksgiving” for fear of offending people who aren’t thankful? Shall we not wish someone a happy birthday to save the feelings of those whose birthday it isn’t?
People who have an agenda where political correctness is one of the drivers of their existence are to me extremists and undermine tradition and possibly our very culture. Their original good intention has been forgotten and their cause been hijacked by folks who have made themselves the advocate for groups that may or may not even want their protection.
It has clearly gone too far. Can we make it all go back to the way it was before someone changed it or should we instead evolve this crazy process of political correctness?
Experience has given me an appreciation of things that change less slowly. What’s left of my youth sees that change is the way to evolve. I think a nice mix of both is the way to live. We don’t need a politically correct movement anymore. It’s been said that sometimes good things fall apart so better things can fall together. The job has been accomplished and things have fallen together nicely. Society has mostly learned that the use of words that are insulting or inappropriate are in bad taste. Now with that progress we can rebuild our social dialog.
Maybe “Christmas Spirit” is what we need all year long.
Rather than wishing readers a “Merry Christmas,” I bid thee “a happy non religion specific celebration of the winter solstice holiday.” Seems the politically correct folks forgot that only the northern hemisphere has winter in December!
Roderick Reed owns REEDesign Interiors in Laguna Beach. He lives in town with his wife Kathy and two sons Mason and Jack. http://roderickreed.com/.