I noticed portents that this Christmas season would be different around Thanksgiving time. I noticed it when people unbidden would wish me “Happy Thanksgiving.” There seemed to be a note of exultancy in their greeting. Not everyone would say “Happy Thanksgiving,” but enough did that it got me to wondering. Was this Thanksgiving different, and if so would Christmas this year be any different?
Increasingly over the years extending wishes of Merry Christmas to someone has seemed vaguely confrontational, especially to a stranger. It is somewhat like holding the door for a woman. One holds the door and wonders. What comes next? A rebuke? A tip? A smile of gratitude?
The same goes for Merry Christmas. It opens one on occasion to hostility, and who has time for hostility? Better it is to wish an acquaintance — even an unacquaintance — with the ever popular, and somewhat corporate, “Happy Holidays.” That way one could be including Kwanza, Hanukkah, New Year’s, who knows even Halloween? Maybe there is an Islamic holiday that can be thrown in. I guess you could say “Happy Holidays” is “non-judgmental,” even meaningless. Who could argue with making a meaningless gesture at Christmastime? Even a sour atheist might applaud.
But as I have said this year was different, and I noticed portents of it about the time we sat down to devour our Thanksgiving bird. People — even people on the street — seemed eager to wish me “Happy Thanksgiving” and then came Christmas. People were exultant. The old greeting was back. “Merry Christmas,” said whites to blacks and blacks to everyone. You know that black Americans are particularly Christian, and I was wished “Merry Christmas” from the black TSA guy, a taxi driver, everyone. Even a Pakistani, I think, wished me “Merry Christmas.”
I blame it all on Donald Trump. I stand with Hillary — wherever she has fled — and John Podesta, and the whole Democratic National Committee, and all the other crybabies. Donald brought back Merry Christmas. But unlike the crybabies I am thankful that he did. I think he started it during a campaign stop in Burlington, Iowa. “I’m a great Christian,” he said to a roaring crowd. Then he went on to add, “If I become president, they’re going to be saying Merry Christmas at every store you can leave Happy Holidays at the door.” Well he is going to become president, and Merry Christmas is no longer controversial.
Some of us in the hot air business came to believe that the current administration had come to “hate America.” I think that at some level that is true. “Leading from behind” and deserting our allies were symptomatic. President Barack Obama did that just last week. Adopting terms such as Happy Holidays and making Merry Christmas a marginal term was another example. Recall if you will Michelle Obama saying, not until her husband’s first presidential campaign did she “feel proud” of her country. I cannot think of another person hoping to reside in the White House saying such a thing.
Now we have a very different kind of family setting up shop at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. Already Donald has changed the tenor of discussion not just on important things like our relations with Israel and our possible relations with Russia but on matters closer to home, such as the way we talk about a major holy day for the majority of the American people. Christmas never should have become a celebration that all Americans could fail to acknowledge. Once the anti-Americans had eliminated Christmas what would they put in its place, Black Friday? Is that a happy day?
• R. Emmett Tyrrell Jr. is editor in chief of The American Spectator. He is author of “The Death of Liberalism,” published by Thomas Nelson Inc.