December 22, 2003,
EDITOR'S NOTE: This article appears in the December 31, 2003, issue of National Review.
When you go to Capitol Hill, you'd better not call the Christmas tree the Christmas tree: It's the "Capitol Holiday Tree," and that's official. (Hang on, aren't the Republicans in charge?) The White House is still holding firm, however: The tree over which it presides remains the National Christmas Tree.
I don't know about y'all in the more Neanderthal parts of America, but in the less Neanderthal, "Christmas" is pretty gauche. When you say "Merry Christmas," you might better have belched. On a recent Sunday, I attended a Christmas concert at Lincoln Center (New York) the soprano Deborah Voigt was singing with the New York Philharmonic. The program said "holiday concert," of course. But a poster outside said "Christmas Concert." Apparently, someone had not quite gotten with the program (so to speak) hope he wasn't fired!
A lot of us have been irked by "Happy Holidays," in place of "Merry Christmas," for a long time. Many years ago, I was working at a large firm in Washington, and it was "Happy Holidays," "Happy Holidays," "Happy Holidays," until you wanted to scream. One afternoon, just before Christmas, I said to a friend there, "Merry Christmas." I said it in a soft, gentle, but kind of mischievous way. He just grinned at me, understandingly. You would have thought we were engaging in something subversive, which was just plain weird.
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