It’s often been said that the US and the UK are two nations divided by a common tongue. What that means, Americans, is that we speak the same language, but only sort of. We tend to ignore the slight differences in our languages as if Microsoft Windows didn’t ask us “English – US” or “English – UK” among its setup choices and the Brits don’t add a “u” to the words “colour” and “neighbour” that we just don’t feel is necessary (never mind leaving the “z” out of words like “socialise”). Probably one place where we notice the distinct difference between that UK English and its American counterpart is in our season’s greetings. The Brits say “Happy Christmas” while we say “Merry Christmas.”
Now there’s really nothing wrong with either greeting, is there? They mean really the same thing and are both meant as a heartfelt sentiment. Yet, while we in America will gleefully wish each other a Happy Birthday, a Happy Halloween, a Happy Thanksgiving, and so on, a Happy Christmas sounds somehow subversive to us. Its foreign… its European… its British… its Commie-Talk.
The UK is not a communist country, of course, but they are… gasp… socialists and socialism is a pretty nasty word to be throwing around in the United States. You’re going to wish me a HAPPY Christmas? Fuck you, Karl Marx, you commie bastard! We start adapting Happy Christmas and the next thing you know we’ll be drinking tea and measuring things with the metric system and its all downhill from there. A slippery slope right into socialism. See what electing a black president does? Twice?
Hell in a handbasket, I tell ya.
The religious right in this country likes to say that there’s a “war on Christmas” going on in this country while we on the left deny it at every turn, just keep your nativity scenes away from our public buildings, thank you. Perhaps there is a War on Christmas. If so, it starts with Happy Christmas. You can’t be happy on Christmas in America! You HAVE to be Merry!
As I write this it is not quite six am on Christmas morning. I’ve managed to be awake even before Tara’s eleven year-old daughter. I think I’m gonna go see if Spike TV is running the Star Wars movies again this year. Happy Christmas, everybody!