As is the case with many New Yorkers, my family celebrates both Christmas and Hanukkah. Everyone has fun, is respectful and exchanges gifts. No one feels threatened or excluded.
Obviously, we're missing something. If you click around the TV universe this time of year, you'll find someone going apoplectic about "the war on Christmas." The fact is we're being bombarded with reminders of the holiday, from retail displays to Christmas songs to TV specials. If someone has really declared war on Christmas, he's getting his backside kicked.
I don't know about you, but if I know someone is Christian, I say, "Merry Christmas." If they're Jewish, I say, "Happy Hanukkah." If I'm not sure, I say, "Happy holidays." I could care less how they greet me. In fact, I've never met a New Yorker who feels at war with fellow citizens during the holiday season.
But such tidings of comfort and inclusiveness are an insult to the "war on Christmas" culture warriors. Speaking of which, guess which religious scholar has a new book on the subject? None other than Sarah Palin. In Orwellian language, Palin explains that unless Christianity is virtually imposed on public life, "true religious freedom will be a thing of the past." Of course, sanctimonious Palin has it backward.
The separation of church and state is what allows for religious freedom. Palin and other self-righteous scolds forget that many of their ancestors came to America to escape punishment for not following the king's religion. Here we can worship as we choose, or not worship at all. It's called freedom -- the concept Palin is always screaming about. Meanwhile, the book bemoaning the commercialization of Christmas is on sale -- just in time for you know what!
New Yorkers shrug off this "war on Christmas" as the Looney Tunes behavior it is. But if you're traveling to see relatives out of town (especially in a red state), take heed: Keep your New York live-and-let-live beliefs to yourself. And whatever you do, never say, "Happy holidays."
Better yet, stay here with the rest of us heathens who have no patience for fake-outrage charlatans. So "Merry Christmas!" "Happy Hanukkah!" "Joyous Kwanzaa!" "Seasons greetings!" And "Happy Festivus" -- for the rest of us!
Playwright Mike Vogel blogs at newyorkgritty.net.