I’m not sure when I noticed that “Merry Christmas” had been supplanted by “Happy Holidays.” I thought this generic term was rather strange, considering that Hannukah is a minor Jewish holiday and Kwanzaa has less of a historic basis than Middle Earth or “Star Trek,” but I simply filed it away for future reference.

Two years ago, though, I noticed something that struck me as bordering on the ominous. People I did not know, namely salesclerks, were starting to correct me when I wished them a Merry Christmas. “Don’t you mean Happy Holidays?” I was asked. “No, actually, I don’t,” I replied. “I am buying these gifts and having them wrapped here at your store, which is decorated with an overtly Christmas theme, because Dec. 25 is fast approaching.

“I am not buying them because of oil magically reappearing in a Jewish lamp. I am not buying them because Kwanzaa Timmy is coming to town with his maize and his copy of the “Communist Manifesto.” I am buying them because it is Christmas time.”

Since then, I have become militant about any generic reference to “the holidays” or even worse, “the season”. The season of what? “Have a good season” is something you tell an athlete, not a fellow celebrant of Jesus Christ’s birth.

Now, I have no quibble with those who harbor doubts that the Prince of Peace was, in fact, laid in a manger 2,000 years ago. Believe or don’t believe, that’s totally up to you. If God is content to let you decide, then who am I to tell you what to think? But if the fact that Christians celebrate the birth of their savior bothers you so much, then for the love of all that is collectively approved and societally consensual, don’t celebrate it! Forget the carols, the gift-giving, the candlelight services. Forget “Silver Bells” and “Silent Night” and the stockings hung with care.

Celebrate your own holiday. Get some woad and paint your butt blue. Burn a druid to death in a wicker basket. Jump over a bonfire and have sex with a stranger at the solstice. Sacrifice a black goat at midnight. I truly don’t care and if you’ll just let me know which holiday is your big one, I’ll be happy to wish you a Blessed Beltane, an Inspired Imbolc or a Serendipitous Samhain.

Christians, it is time to realize that the gloves are off and the gauntlet has been thrown down. The TV shows of our childhood have come to life and the Christmas grinches are real. The separation of Church and State has invaded our department stores and both Santa and the little baby Jesus are under attack. The secular elite seeks to establish its atheist apartheid, and now that Christianity has been eradicated from the government schools, it has the most popular symbol of Western Christianity firmly in its sights.

So, refuse to accept this. Don’t go along! Don’t buy from a store that is celebrating “the holidays” or “the season.” If they’re not celebrating Christmas, then why should you buy your family’s Christmas presents from them? Give a cheerful “Merry Christmas” back to every “Happy Holidays” you receive. Select a Bible verse for your Christmas cards. Skip the “Festival of Lights” and go see “A Christmas Carol” instead. Invite a stray to your Christmas dinner and a stranger to your midnight mass.

Corporations have no conscience. A season or two of holiday sales sans Christmas shoppers and we’ll be seeing verses from Matthew, Mark, Luke and John on every store front, advertisement and Web page. Christmas survived 70 years of communism, it can conquer politically correct capitalism too.

And even if you’re not a Christian, even if you don’t believe that Christ the Savior is born, do you really want to trade in the happy Christmases of your childhood for a secular smorgasbord of Hanukah, Ramadan and Kwanzaa? People, if nothing else, there is an aesthetic imperative here. There’s a reason, after all, that those evangelical fundamentalists of Band-Aid did not sing “Do they know it’s Kwanzaa time at all …”

Merry Christmas.

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