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Can we be politically correct and give Christmas greetings?

December 11, 2010
By Wayne Sheets Contributing Business Writer

More and more we hear greetings this time of year expressed as "Happy Holidays" rather than "Merry Christmas." Because of that, we hear more and more dissatisfaction in private conversation over the use of this politically correct, generic greeting.

Why, the silent majority wonders, does it have to sacrifice its ages-old custom of greeting friends and neighbors, especially in the business and political world, with the customary "Merry Christmas" because it might offend "someone." Why, they question, does one of our most sacred customs have to be so dramatically altered at such an important time of year for the sake of so few? Why is our society becoming so afraid and reluctant to write and display the word "Christmas" in the public domain? What about our feelings and sentiments? Those whom we are so worried about offending by our customs don't seem to worry that their customs may offend us, they say; and they make no efforts to placate the ill feelings caused by their actions.

The common wisdom seems to be that if those who serve the public display "Merry Christmas" in their public greetings, they will suffer losses in sales and create ill will with those who do not celebrate the season the way this nation has always celebrated the birth of Christ. What would affect sales more - the loss of those customers who are offended by the use of the generic holiday greeting or those offended by the traditional seasonal greeting?

We have always been a nation of considerate people letting everyone celebrate their special holidays as their customs and beliefs dictate without interference. That freedom has always been one of this country's greatest attractions. Why, so many are asking, is it now that those of Christian beliefs are not afforded the same freedom of Christmas expression?

America is not the only country whose people are experiencing the same plethora of political correctness. My cousin who lives in Australia sent me an e-mail last week in which she included a story about a man who was asked by a big company to design "several Christmas Cards as well as electronic versions of the same." His early designs were accepted by the company's CEO except that the words "Merry Christmas" were to be removed "from all versions of the cards as well as the file extension name." The CEO told the designer that "it is culturally not OK to call them Xmas cards, either, so I'm calling them a 'Festive Thank You Card.'" To make a long story short, the designer refused to do this, too. In his reply to the CEO he said, "... to remove the word Christmas from what is obviously a Christmas card ... because it is culturally not OK ... is politically correct madness to the maximum."

Would it make all that much difference in the business and political worlds if we were to go back to "the good old days of using the greeting "Merry Christmas" instead of being, well, nearly forced, to using the politically correct generic term of happy holidays in the public displays and greetings? Probably not.


On the lighter side of the Christmas season "challenges" we face, here's one I bet everyone can identify with - male or female. You're standing in the check-out line behind 13 other people; finally you're second in line behind a woman who has a shopping cart full of Christmas treasure (now, before you ladies get all out of sorts, the feminine gender is used strictly for illustrative purposes - it cold happen the other way around). About mid-way through her stash, the clerk finds an item for which there is a conflict in what her "modern-day-computerized-calculating cash register (MDCCCR)" rings up and what's on the price tag. She picks up the hand-held two-way radio lying beside her register and says, "Hey Chuck would you check the price on such-and-such?" He says he will. The clerk, not hearing from Chuck after a long silence, hustles off to check the price herself.

She returns to inform the lady that the price tag is in error - the item is more than the tag states. After giving the clerk a long and emphatic lesson on how to prevent such occurrences, she refuses the item.

The clerk finishes ringing up the woman's items. Suddenly the customer, who except for the brief intermission to discuss the price of the disputed item has been excitedly conversing with a friend, realizes it's time to pay the clerk. She starts digging through a purse the size of a sailor's sea bag for her charge cards or check book. After forever, she finds the check book and begins the long and arduous task of filling out a check when all she would have had to do was sign it and the MDCCCR would have done the rest for her.

After taking three minutes and 156 seconds to complete the check, she then proceeds to balance her checkbook. Then, of course, the check book must be placed back in the sea bag-sized purse at just the right place - all to be repeated at her next customer service desk.

Just as the clerk starts ringing up your purchase - a WVU sweatshirt for your 12-year-old son - her telephone rings and she gets involved in a long conversation about the pricing of the item the lady in front of you refused. Sound familiar?

Keep in mind, folks, this is "Christmas" and it's the season filled with happiness, good cheer - and patience?


The Randolph County Road Runners will host its annual Jingle Bell Run at 6 p.m. on Dec. 17. The runners, according to Martha Metheny, who helps organize the annual event, wear bells, seasonal dress and even lights and run through town, the Elkins neighborhoods and back.

The runners will depart Henry G's Cafe at 110 Third St. for a 40-minute easy, social, holiday run through town and the Elkins neighborhoods. They may even make occasional stops along the way for song and good cheer. The run will terminate at Henry G's with a post-run celebration. Revelers will then continue the evening's celebration at the El Grand Sabor Restaurant.

Metheny is encouraging the community to visit downtown that evening and join in the fun, the run (or walk) and give the runners an encouraging send-off and welcome back with shopping and dining during the interim. She also said that she hopes the stores will extend their shopping hours that evening to give folks a little extra Christmas shopping time.



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