In search of Christmas
This column' s far-flung staff has just visited two of the big anti-Christmas or post-Christmas stores here in New York. First stop was Macy's, where the formerly famous feast day has pretty much been obliterated. Nothing on the main floor. But high up in the store's nosebleed section (ninth floor, furniture), shoppers may notice "Holiday Lane," a collection of generically decorated Christmas trees, or former Christmas trees. The forbidden "C" word is hard to find, though sharp-eyed column staffers noticed it twice, in little nooks labeled "A Country Christmas" and "A Traditional Christmas." Sadly, some minor Torquemada of the Macy's Christmas disposal unit will probably lose his job for failing to rip down these noninclusive signs. Not to worry, though. There's nothing religious here. No carols. No music. Not much indication of what holiday might be occurring along Holiday Lane. Hanukkah is suffering the same fate as Christmas. Two years ago, the store had a huge Hanukkah banner and display. This year a few menorahs sat forlornly in a tiny unmarked area, far away from Holiday Lane.
The purge of Christmas is also in full bloom over at Bloomingdale's, which, like Macy's, is owned by Federated Department Stores. A minuscule Christmas section is tucked away on the fifth floor. "Any Christmas music?" I asked a clerk, as a sad Billie Holiday song filled the air (just the thing for holiday lanes). "Oh, it goes in cycles," the clerk said. "Just wait." Sure enough, a few minutes later, right after "Let it Snow," "The Christmas Song" came on, or as it is generally known, "Religion-Free Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Secular Fire." I heard no carols, though, and saw no "Merry Christmas" banners. Just some trinkets and two tiny fake evergreen trees decorated with tiny people holding Bloomingdale's shopping bags. Federated apparently ignores Christmas because it doesn't want to offend anyone, though at least 80 percent of Americans say they are Christian, and 95 percent observe Christmas in some way. Presumably, if America were 95 percent Druid, the canny folks at Federated would obliterate major Druid holidays and tick off as many Druid shoppers as possible, referring to this process as "inclusion."
The sensitive executives at Federated are victims of the growing campaign to make people feel uncomfortable about Christmas, not just the religious feast but all the secular trappings, and even a mention of the word Christmas in conversation. Some public schools have been banning "Silent Night" and other carols from school concerts, though no court has ever ruled that these songs can't be sung. In West Bend, Wis., the school district announced that students could not distribute religious Christmas cards. No law or court has ever ruled this way. The school district backed down when Liberty Counsel, a religious-liberties group, threatened to sue. The anti-Christmas lobby implies that schools can't teach about Christmas and says creches can't be placed on public property. Not so, as long as the teaching purpose is educational and the creche is part of a broad seasonal display.