There’s nothing evil or mean-spirited about any of it; it’s just ill-fitting Merry Christmas Wishes and uncomfortable. And that’s when it happens once. When it happens several times a day for a month, and is amplified by the audiovisual Christmas blanketing, it’s exhausting and isolating. It makes me feel like a stranger in my own land.
When I tried to explain this on Twitter, I earned thousands of attacks: people vindictively wishing me a Merry Christmas, vicious and ad hominem condemnations accusing me of being angry, whiny, impolite, self-centered, ungrateful, sad and, in general, a bad person. (“We’ve already got a reputation for being miserable f—s,” one Jewish commenter wrote, “let’s not make it worse.”)
I find this surge of hostility baffling. To voluntarily opt out of Christmas, apparently, is an act of aggression against Christmas itself. As if only miserable folks are displeased when people assume they are Christian. As if asking you to consider that your friendly utterance might come across as thoughtless is a betrayal of the holiday spirit. As if you cannot, in fact, opt out of Christmas and out of celebrating Christ’s birth. There’s something a little deranged about taunting someone of another faith with “Merry Christmas” after they’ve politely asked for a recusal. It feels out of step with what Christians say this holiday — and Christianity — is all about: peace, love and mercy. It feels, instead, to be of a piece with the warring tribalism that has consumed our politics.