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The Horrible "H" Word: If I hear "Happy Holiday" one more time, I'm going to scream | Mary Beth Bonacci

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As many of you know, I sell real estate in my "other" life (the one that pays the bills.) I’m in the process of sending out Christmas cards to my clients. And yes, "Christmas" is the operative word here. Good luck in the real estate world — or any other segment of the professional world — finding a printer selling client cards that don’t wish them a "Happy Holiday Season."

I get the thinking. We don’t know what holiday our clients celebrate in December. Maybe it’s Hanukah. Maybe it’s Ramadan, or Quanzaa, or Festivus. We need to be sensitive to diversity.

But here’s the thing. I know my clients. And I know what they celebrate. They celebrate the birth of Christ — Christmas. And I see no reason my "holiday" cards shouldn’t reflect that.

"Happy Holidays" is everywhere. Christmas trees are being re-christened "holiday trees." Schools take "holiday breaks" and host "holiday programs" where they sing de-Christianized "holiday carols." Stores announce "holiday sales" and promote "holiday gifts."

Where has Christmas gone?

Most of us see this infestation of the generic "holiday" as just a case of political correctness run amok. I know that, for many years, I did. But I’m beginning to see it differently.

Not everyone is making the switch from "Christmas" to "holiday" voluntarily. Many schools fear lawsuits from the ACLU if they use the word "Christmas" to describe any school activities. Several school districts around the country have actually faced such lawsuits. In 2000, the Covington, Georgia school board was prevented from using the word "Christmas" in their calendar. Craig Goodmark, attorney for the ACLU, said that such a designation would convey a "hostile" message to non-Christian families.

And so, in such an environment, school districts cave in to political correctness. Plano, Texas elementary schools went so far as to prohibit students from writing "Merry Christmas" on the cards they gave to each other, and banned the use of red and green napkins at the "winter party," deeming the colors to be "Christmas symbols."

This is not "political correctness." This is open hostility toward Christianity.

Ninety-six percent of Americans celebrate Christmas. Ninety-six percent. Why are we dancing around, trying not to mention a holiday that over nine out of ten Americans will be observing? Is it really so offensive to those who don’t? Jewish talk show host Dennis Prager doesn’t think so. He recognizes that America is primarily a Christian nation, and he has said that he finds it ridiculous that the observation of Christmas could be offensive to him.

Look, if I lived in Israel, I would expect people to greet each other with "Happy Hanukah." I would expect to see menorahs and other Jewish symbols. If I were in a Middle Eastern country, I would expect the people around me to celebrate Ramadan. To think that I would find those national celebrations offensive is beyond ludicrous to me.

Christmas is important. It is the commemoration of the defining event of human history — the day that God entered the world as a human child. To relegate its celebration to just one of a number of winter "holidays" is to devalue it — and to devalue the 96% of us (I remind you yet again) who find that celebration important.

Fortunately, Christmas is making a comeback. The tree on the west lawn of the Capitol will once again be called the "Capitol Christmas Tree" instead of the "Capitol Holiday Tree." Likewise, the tree in Boston Common was renamed after complaints about its "Holiday Tree" moniker. Right here in Denver, our mayor reinstated the "Merry Christmas" sign at the City Hall display, after residents complained about the "holiday" change. Last year, Denver’s Parade of Lights banned religious (i.e., Christmas) displays. This year, thanks to the efforts of local churches, that ban has been lifted.

Please, please, don’t dismiss the disappearance of Christmas as merely benign political correctness. It isn’t. It is one more effort to banish Christianity from the public square.

I’m doing my part. I’m sending Christmas cards. I’m making a point of smiling and saying "Merry Christmas" too all who wish me a "happy holiday." Most people seem relieved, and more often than not, they respond in kind.

Please do the same. Make a point of referring to Christmas. Send Christmas cards to your Christmas-celebrating friends. Let your local schools and retailers know that you, and 96% of those around you, are celebrating Christmas, and you would appreciate their acknowledgement of that fact.

It’s not about a "holiday." It’s about the birth of Christ.

• This article originally appeared on RealLove.net on December 8, 2005.

Other IgnatiusInsight.com Articles by Mary Beth Bonacci:

Teens, Sex, and Real Love | Interview with Mary Beth Bonacci
There's More to Prayer Than "Saying Our Prayers"
Was Pope John Paul II Anti-Woman?
JPII, Why Did We Love You?
A Hero Goes to His Reward
Some Atrocities are Worse than Others
Parents Love the Chastity Girl
The Attack on Abstinence

Mary Beth Bonacci is internationally known for her talks and writings about love, chastity, and sexuality. Since 1986 she has spoken to tens of thousands of young people, including 75,000 people in 1993 at World Youth Day in Denver, Colorado. She appears frequently on radio and television programs, including several appearances on MTV.

Mary Beth has written two books, We're on a Mission from God and Real Love, and also writes a regular, syndicated column for various publications. She has developed numerous videos, including her brand-newest video series, also entitled Real Love. Her video Sex and Love: What's a Teenager to Do? was awarded the 1996 Crown Award for Best Youth Curriculum.

Mary Beth holds a bachelor's degree in Organizational Communication from the University of San Francisco, and a master's degree in Theology of Marriage and Family from the John Paul II Institute at Lateran University. She was also awarded an honorary doctorate in Communications from the Franciscan University of Steubenville, and is listed in Outstanding Young Women of America for 1997. Her apostolate, Real Love Incorporated is dedicated to presenting the truth about the Church's teaching about sexuality, chastity, and marriage.

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