I Think Bill O'Reilly Killed Christmas
Last year you couldn't turn around without hearing someone complain about not being told "Merry Christmas" when checking out at a store. I personally didn't care, because I worked retail for a long time and it's just more efficient to say "Happy Holidays" instead of "Happy Hanukah, Merry Christmas and Happy New Year." (Back when I was in retail, Kwanzaa was on nobody's radar and it was Northern Indiana so "feliz Navidad" wasn't germaine.)
This year several places appear to have ducked the controversy by pretending that The Holidays don't exist at all. I'm sick about it.
Friday night we went to dinner at a popular chain restaurant. In past years this restaurant has been festively decorated with lights, poinsettias and little trees. There's been Christmas music piped over the speakers and you feel part of the festivities while you eat. On Friday it was a different story. Nothing about the restaurant said "Christmas" at all. I felt cheated, because one of the reasons I eat in restaurants in December is to soak up that feeling of the whole world celebrating together. I don't particularly care if we are celebrating different things. I just like the idea of celebrating, casting off the "business as usual" feel for 4 or 5 weeks of happy.
When we went Christmas shopping on Saturday, only one of the stores was playing Christmas music. None of the stores were decorated at all. Why do I blame Bill O'Reilly? Because he was at the forefront of that whole "Merry Christmas" nonissue last year. And I think that a lot of the stores have opted out of any acknowledgement of the Holidays in order to avoid being dragged into another non-story controversy for the sake of highly-rated agitprop.
In past years I've bristled about buying gifts online because I've always felt that you miss out on some of that ambience by sitting at your desk. From now on, though, I think I'll just buy exclusively online. I can play my own Christmas music over iTunes while I shop and I won't feel so perfunctory.