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.

Attract Him Back

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 myface. “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.