I’m a Casualty of the “War on Christmas”
Copyrighted by Lorna Tedder. Originally published in Third Degree of Contrast.
You know what? I don’t really care if you wish me a “Merry Christmas,” a “Blessed Solstice,” or “Happy Holidays.” I don’t. But just wish it for me and don’t demand it of me. Such a wish, in my opinion, should be meant as a lovely personal blessing, not a political grenade.
I’m doing pretty good, I suppose. I’m still having moments of sadness juxtaposed with relief and solid attempts to enjoy the season with my children. I am open to joyful moments, and there have been more than a few sweet ones. So no one needs to avoid me or feel they can’t laugh around me. Most of my co-workers stay out of range and let me work quietly. They don’t know what to say and they don’t want to intrude, and this is okay. But sometimes I am unexpectedly sad and it shows. If the Law of Attraction is in effect, then I probably draw to me the thing I’m most fearing at this moment, which is, I really don’t want to be antagonized or further stressed right now.
Which is why the woman behind the counter goes to
great pains to insist I have a “Merry Christmas.”
I’m frowning into my purse, looking for the credit card that’s somewhere in there but my fingers instead find the “A Life Remembered” memento, and I wince. Reflex, I suppose. I’m having an overall good day but the reminder takes me by surprise.
Just then the cashier says, in a not so pleasant way,
“Smile. It’s Christmas.”
I barely hear her. I say nothing. At the moment, my throat is tight and I can’t talk.
When I look up, her eyebrows are knitted together and her eyes are angry. “I said, ‘Smile. It’s Christmas.’”
I don’t smile. I don’t feel like it and I’m not sure I even can right now. Instead, I just nod.
“You don’t have to be so bah-humbug about it! You don’t believe in Christmas or something? Oh.” She gets a strange look on her face as if she just tasted something rancid. “Was I supposed to say ‘Happy Holidays’ or something?” She says “Happy Holidays” in a voice that’s a perfect imitation from “The Exorcist.”
I stop what I’m doing and just stare. I shove the little memento back into my purse and hand her my credit card. All I can do is blink. I can’t even swallow.
“I don’t say, ‘Happy Holidays,’” she tells me. “I believe in Christ the Lord and I say ‘Merry Christmas.’ To everybody. Non-believers, too. Jews, too. I’m not going to be a casualty of the war on Christmas. I’m going to wish everybody who comes through this line today a Merry Christmas whether they like it or not. And my employer says I can.”
She takes my card and totals my bill. I’m hopeful that she’s done with her outburst, but I must be giving off my I’m-a-good-listener-and-you-can-tell-me-anything vibrations because she just won’t shut up.
I’m breathing deeply. I must look absolutely miserable.
“Look at all these people out Christmas shopping,” she tells me. “They’re all so happy.”
I glance at the long line of impatient people behind me. None of them are smiling either, and the woman behind me keeps sighing her displeasure. We’re all trying to finish errands on our lunch hour and none of us will make it if the cashier keeps yammering.
“Everybody else in the Christmas spirit,” she continues, finally handing me a receipt to sign. “You need to get into the mood, too. You’re spoiling it for the rest of us.” She takes my signed receipt and looks angrily into my face. “And for God’s sake, if you’re not going to have a Merry Christmas, at least smile.”
I finally swallow and regain my composure. I respond but my voice is too low to be heard.
She completes the business transaction, handing me my receipt, credit card, and my purchases in a bag. “What? I didn’t hear you.” Her tone is unbearably hateful. My presence among the Christmas “Merry-Makers” is irritating to her and she is letting me know it.
I repeat myself, loud enough for her to hear, and I watch her freeze in her tracks.
“I said, I just buried my dad and I’m not really feeling like smiling right now.”
I leave without another word. I won’t shove my politics down her throat or demand she wipe the sudden look of shock and embarrassment off her face. I could wish her a “Blessed Solstice” or a “Merry Christmas” or whatever blessing of celebration would make her happy, but that would be…disingenuous…of me.