Noel brings no peace to U.S. consumers

The day after Thanksgiving, Nov. 25, marked the official beginning of the holiday shopping season, with stores raking in more than $9 billion in sales, according to the Chicago-based ShopperTrak RTC Corp.

Known as Black Friday, it is one of the busiest shopping days of the year, rivaled only by Christmas Eve.

But the day also commemorates another holiday tradition: the start of the annual War on Christmas.

This one isn’t fought with candy-cane carbines, missile-toes or rocket-propelled sleighs. Instead, the battlefield is America’s commercial sector, with Target, Wal-Mart and Circuit City as the frontlines and the fight is with words.

Wal-Mart fired the opening salvo, announcing that its greeters and cashiers would say “Merry Christmas” in place of “Happy Holidays” or “Season’s Greetings.”

“Holiday Trees” will now be “Christmas Trees.” The “Holiday Shop” will now be the “Christmas Shop.” And baby Jesus will remind consumers of His true message: Buy one poker set, get one half off.

Kohls and Walgreens have also allied with Wal-Mart, honoring the birth of our savior with red-tag sales on Tickle-Me Elmos and rollback prices on Peppermint Schnapps.

Best Buy, however, declared its intention to keep respecting all of its customers’ beliefs, sending a message that directly conflicts with Jesus’ teachings of compassion and tolerance.

Best Buy has also gained some new allies in its crusade on Christmas: The Marines. YahooNews reports that The Marine Reserves’ Toys for Tots program rejected 4,000 talking, battery-powered Jesus dolls because, the program said, no one knows who will receive the toys.

Michael La Roe, business-development director for the toys’ manufacturer, said he was “surprised and disappointed.” After all, what Jewish person wouldn’t want a toy for his son saying “no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again”?

The War on Christmas has spilled over onto another front involving children: schools. Many public institutions are more confused about how to handle Noel than Jack Skellington in Christmas Town. If they include Christmas, parents may complain. If they don’t, then other parents might complain.

This War on Christmas seems to be as endless as the one on Terror. No one seems to know how to resolve the conflict.

Here’s an idea: everyone should stop being so sensitive.

Christmas crusaders should cease complaining. According to a Baylor University Study, 82 percent of Americans are Christian. To them, I say: stop playing the victim. You and your religion make up four-fifths of this country. You aren’t being persecuted. Christmas is not being exorcised from society.

Companies just want to create a one-term-fits-all greeting. They’re doing what every American does: accomplish as much as possible with as little work as possible.

And the anti-yuletide campaigners, who protest someone placing a manger scene within 10 miles of government property, need to chill out this winter. A school’s Christmas pageant should probably have something to do with Christmas. Jewish and Muslim children shouldn’t have to participate, but seeing it would provide an excellent chance to learn a little bit about America’s dominant religion. Then, the Jewish children could educate their Christian peers about Hanukkah, and Muslim students could explain Ramadan.

America already has a War on Drugs, a War on Poverty, a War on Terror and a second War in Iraq.

Does it really need a War on Christmas?

The yuletide season should focus on love, family, compassion and selflessness; not fights over terms for trees and pluralistic phrases.

So, enjoy this holiday season with your family, and if someone wants to recruit you for the War on Christmas, tell them Bah Humbug!

Happy Holidays!