Even Santa has run into the idiotic political correctness wall. Santa's helpers at the mall are no longer allowed to say "Ho-ho-ho," for fear it will frighten children or offend women. Santas also aren't allowed to pick kids up and plop them on their knees. In fact, they aren't allowed to touch kids at all and are instructed to keep both their hands in full view at all times when photographs are being taken. In some stores where there's no "bowl full of jelly" Santa, there are Santa helpers who are dressed much the same. But they can't say "Merry Christmas," and are told by their trainers to say "Happy Holidays" or "Season's Greetings." When you and I were 5 years old and counting the calendar days until Santa came, did anyone ever wish you "Season's Greetings?" What's a season, anyhow? When does a season start and stop? Are we in mid-season now or nearing the end of one?
Of course, it's hard to sing Christmas (holiday?) carols without mentioning words that you're supposed to avoid, words like "Jesus," "Savior," "Christ" or even "manger." The three PleasanTones walked the line carefully in their tree-lighting concert last Saturday, belting out old holiday favorites such as "Jingle Bells" and "Sleigh Bells Ringing." Political correctness rules unofficially governing what we say at Christmastime are everywhere and growing. Many stores are advertising that they'll be closed on Dec. 25 and early the day before. Schools will be out for Winter Break. I bought a Christmas (er, Holiday) gift the other day at Macy's and asked to have it wrapped. She graciously showed me the wrapping desk and wished me a "Happy Holiday." When I asked why not "Merry Christmas," she cringed, explaining that her department supervisor said never to say such a thing to a customer. There are even some extremes. A Christmas tree was removed from the atrium of a student center at Missouri State University two weeks ago after the school president said it was inappropriate. This week he backed down and the tree went up again. But up in Eugene, Ore., Jim Johnson, the city manager, has banned all Christmas trees on public property, saying they're too often associated with Christmas and the Christian religion. Then there's Lowe's, which will open its new Dublin store next Friday. Lowe's issued an apology after customers were outraged at the home improvement store's 2007 "Holiday" catalog, which refers to what most of us call a Christmas tree as a "family tree." Lowe's says it was just a typo. It's worth a trip there next weekend just to see if anyone there wishes customers a "Merry Christmas." I might even buy our tree there if they do.