Monday, November 26, 2007

Reporting from The War on Christmas

A few days ago, on one of the several chat groups to which I belong, a fellow group member alerted us that one of the major retail outlets was calling their Christmas trees, “Family Trees” this year. Uh-oh, here we go again: The Christmas-time (or is it Holiday-time) culture wars.

I don’t know that there really is a “war on Christmas,” but there does seem to be a move to use the term “Christmas” less often. Whether it is a desire to make people of other cultural or religious traditions feel less excluded or has some other motive, I don’t know. As a public service, I thought I would examine all 17 pounds of the Tennessean Thanksgiving Day newspaper inserts to see which advertisers are Christmas-friendly and which are politically correct. (I really don’t know that there is 17 pounds of inserts, but it is a heck of a lot of newspaper that normally goes in the trash unread.)

Michael’s full-size insert featured almost nothing but Christmas décor and Christmas trees but Michaels was able to avoid the word “Christmas.” The front of their insert featured “Pre-lit trees,” “Donner Pine,” “Madison Fir,” "Frasier Fir,” etc. but no “Christmas Trees.” They had lots of “holiday” items, including “holiday” cards. They did however offer one “Christmas Collection” garland. “Christmas Collection” was the brand name.

On the other hand, Old Time Pottery bragged “We are your low price Christmas Tree Headquarters,” and Old Time Pottery had “Christmas Trees,” “Christmas stockings,” “Christmas mugs,” “Christmas wrap,” “Christmas tins and trays,” “Christmas gift boxes” and "Christmas" everything.

Jo Ann Fabric and Craft stores, a chain I am not familiar with, is also very Christmas-friendly. Their insert had “Christmas Food crafting supplies,” “Christmas gift wrap,” “Christmas Décor,” and “Christmas ornaments.”

Petco, where you can buy your cat a “Holiday ginger bread Cat Scratcher” or a “Kitty Hoots Holiday Stocking for $12.99, used the term “holiday” numerous times and almost made it into the politically correct column but redeemed themselves by offering a “Kitten’s First Christmas Collection.”

Rite Aid offered “holiday Savings,” and “holiday light sets” but they also had “indoor Artificial Christmas Trees” and “Christmas stocking stuffers.” Walgreen’s was very Christmas-friendly and had “Christmas Window Clings” and “50% off select Christmas Ornaments and Garland,” and “Hershey’s Christmas Candy” and their trees were all “Christmas Trees”. CSC Pharmacy seemed to try to avoid the C word and had “Merry Brite lighted Cone Trees,” and “Holiday Decorations” and “Holiday Scented 5.5” Pillar Candles” but they did offer an “Angels of Christmas Ornament.” “Angels of Christmas” appears to be brand name.

Circuit City’s ad had was heavily winter holiday-themed (Christmas-themed?) and mentioned “Santa’s Little Helper,” “the joy of giving” and “spread some holiday cheer” and almost avoided the C word but then they did offer “Christmas DVD’s” for $9.99. “Christmas DVD’s” was not a brand name; that is what Circuit City called them.

Party City had lots of party stuff and had “75% off Boxed Christmas Cards.” Best Buy had “fun holiday gifts” and told us to “have a holiday movie marathon,” but no Christmas at Best Buys.

JC Penny’s advertised a “7.5-Ft pre-lit Wonder Tree”, but did not call it a Christmas tree. They had “gifts that spread holiday cheer,” and featured “holiday Motif Jewelry” but no Christmas at Penny’s. Goody’s advertised “sweaters & knits in a holiday mood” and “the perfect stocking stuffers” but no mention of Christmas. On the other hand, Bed and Bath told us they had “Extended hours now Through Christmas.” Sears had “Christmas Trees.” Macy’s had no Christmas. K-mart had “holiday” trees and told us to “Spruce up your holiday home,” but no Christmas at K-mart.

Sprint had winter holiday-themed (Christmas-themed?) ads with play-on-word advertisements like “Text the Halls,” “Dashing through the songs” and “Hands-free for the holidays” and “Jingle bell rock, faster” but they avoided the C word.

Lowe’s featured a “6-1/2 ft. 400-light clear pre-lit tree” and lots of other “holiday” décor. They did not use the word “Christmas,” while Home Depot told us to “buy any live Christmas tree and receive $30 off any future purchase at The Home Depot.”

I don’t know what to make of this Christmas battle of the culture wars. I am not going to boycott companies that use the term “holiday trees” but I do think Christmas trees ought to be called “Christmas” trees. I won’t get mad at you if you wish me “Happy Holiday” or “Merry Christmas,” but I do sometimes pause before I wish someone else a “Happy holiday” or “Merry Christmas”; use the wrong term and they may take offence. I pity the poor retail clerk who must say one or the other or neither and risk offending someone.

One of my favorite country artists, Billy Joe Shaver, testifies with humor, “If you don’t love Jesus, you can go to hell.” I think a lot of the culture warriors have that attitude and they are not being humerous. Lighten up people.

Merry Christmas (or Happy Holidays).

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1 comment:

  1. Are you a fan of Bill O'reilly? He talks about this stuff a lot. He has one of my favorite news porgrams.