Iâ€™m a Casualty of the â€œWar on Christmasâ€
Copyrighted by Lorna Tedder. Originally published in Third Degree of Contrast.
You know what? I donâ€™t really care if you wish me a â€œMerry Christmas,â€ a â€œBlessed Solstice,â€ or â€œHappy Holidays.â€ I donâ€™t. But just wish it for me and donâ€™t demand it of me. Such a wish, in my opinion, should be meant as a lovely personal blessing, not a political grenade.
Iâ€™m doing pretty good, I suppose. Iâ€™m still having moments Â of Â sadness Â juxtaposed Â with Â relief Â and Â solid Â 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 canâ€™t laugh around me. Most of my co-workers Â stay out of range and let me work quietly. They donâ€™t know what to say and they donâ€™t want to Â 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 Â thing Iâ€™m most fearing at this moment, Â which is, I really Â donâ€™tÂ wantÂ to Â be antagonized Â or further stressed right now.
Which is why the woman behind the counter goes to
great pains to insist I have a â€œMerry Christmas.â€
Iâ€™m frowning Â intoÂ my purse, Â looking Â for theÂ credit card thatâ€™s Â somewhere Â in there but Â my Â fingers Â instead find the â€œA Life Â Rememberedâ€ Â memento, Â and I wince. Reflex, I suppose. Iâ€™m having an overall good day but the reminder takes me by surprise.
Just then the cashier says, in a not so pleasant way,
â€œSmile. Itâ€™s Christmas.â€
I barely hear her. I say nothing. At the moment, my throat is tight and I canâ€™t talk.
When I look up, her eyebrows Â are knitted Â together and her eyes are angry. â€œI said, â€˜Smile. Itâ€™s Christmas.â€™â€
I donâ€™t smile. I donâ€™t feel like it and Iâ€™m not sure I even can right now. Instead, I just nod.
â€œYou donâ€™t have to be so bah-humbug about it! You donâ€™t believe in Christmas or something? Oh.â€ She gets a strange look on her face as if Â she just tasted something rancid. Â â€œWas Â I Â supposed Â to Â say Â â€˜Happy Â Holidaysâ€™ Â or something?â€ She says â€œHappy Holidaysâ€ in a voice thatâ€™s a perfect imitation from â€œThe Exorcist.â€
I stop what Iâ€™m doing and just stare. I shove the little memento back Â into myÂ purse Â and hand Â her Â myÂ credit card. All I can do is blink. I canâ€™t even swallow.
â€œI donâ€™t say, â€˜Happy Holidays,â€™â€ she tells me. â€œI believe in Christ the Lord and I say â€˜Merry Christmas.â€™ Â To everybody. Non-believers, Â too. Â Jews, too. Iâ€™m not going to be a casualty of the war on Christmas. Â Iâ€™m Â going to wish Â everybody Â who Â comes Â through Â this Â line Â today Â a Merry Christmas whether they like it or not. And my employer says I can.â€
She takes my card and totals my bill. Iâ€™m hopeful that sheâ€™s done with her outburst, but I must be giving off my Iâ€™m-a-good-listener-and-you-can-tell-me-anything Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â vibrations because she just Â wonâ€™t shut up.
Iâ€™m breathing Â deeply.Â I mustÂ look absolutely Â miserable.
â€œLook at all these people out Christmas Â shopping,â€ she tells me. â€œTheyâ€™re all so happy.â€
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. Weâ€™re all trying to finish errands Â on our Â lunch Â hour Â and Â none Â of usÂ will make it if the cashier keeps yammering.
â€œEverybody else in the Christmas Â spirit,â€ she continues, finally handing me a receipt to sign. â€œYou need to get into the mood, too. Youâ€™re spoiling it for the rest of us.â€ She takes Â my signed Â receipt Â and looks Â angrily Â into my face. â€œAnd for Godâ€™s sake, if youâ€™re not going to have a Merry Christmas, at least smile.â€
I finally swallow and regain my composure. I respond but my voice is too low to be heard.
She completes Â the business Â transaction, Â handing me my Â receipt, Â credit Â card, Â and Â my Â purchases Â in Â a Â bag. â€œWhat? I didnâ€™t hear you.â€ Her tone is unbearably hateful. My Â presence Â among Â the Â Christmas Â â€œMerry-Makersâ€ Â 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.
â€œI said, I just buried my dad and Iâ€™m not really feeling like smiling right now.â€
I leave without another word. I wonâ€™t shove my politics down her throat or demand she wipe the sudden look of shock and embarrassment Â off her face. I could wish her a â€œBlessed Solsticeâ€ or a â€œMerry Christmasâ€ or whatever blessing of celebration would make her happy, but that would beâ€¦disingenuousâ€¦of Â me.