But there are two very distinct parts to this, one which I think is very serious, the other which I think is inane beyond belief. The difference is between 1) religious repression and 2) simple politeness.
Now I was raised Roman Catholic. You may have heard of it. If you haven't you're probably going to hell. Just kidding, of course. But while I'm not technically "practicing" lately, I do tend to still gravitate toward a lot of the things I grew up on, what with Popes and Narthexes and Tabernacles and the Stations of the Cross and whatnot. I'm certainly not one of these asshole self-proclaimed "recovering Catholics" who couldn't take the fact that Church doesn't want you to bang every girl in your neighborhood and has at least some moral compass. (Well, that's the Church's official position anyway.)
Now, being that as it may, I may have a skewed perspective on this, but I have absolutely no problem whatsoever with religious symbolism and pride in one's religion. I have no less a problem with a manger scene in the mall than I do with a Star of David on Max Baer's boxing tights or the Star and Crescent on the Tunisian flag. I think the attempt to suppress things like this truly is a suppression of religious freedom. And while I know America does not (and should not) have an official religion, let's not forget that the reason those pilgrims hopped the Mayflower to come here was to get away from religious persecution, for any religious affiliation.
See, while I do absolutely believe in the separation of Church and State, because no state should ever tell someone what they should be believing in, I personally think that anyone that would take the "under God" part of the Pledge of Allegiance to the Supreme Court either has far far far too much time on his hands, or is so bitter against all things religious that he will nickel-and-dime anything he can to piss off those idiots who believe in this "God" character. If you don't want to say the "under God" part, don't say it. Some people want to say it, shouldn't they be able to if that's what they truly believe? I know that religious zealots are scary, but let's not be so anti-religion that we don't even want to hear the words.
I am somewhat more offended that we even have a Pledge of Allegiance in the first place. And why every morning? Isn't that very first time we pledge it enough? Does the Pledge hold up in a court of law? "Mr. John Walker Lindh, you defied the United States by joining the Taliban? And this was after you had repeatedly stated that you pledged allegiance??? Have you no morals, sir?" There are so many religious idiots out there that they are making people take the atheist idiots (and yes there are a lot of them too) seriously. Granted, there is no way on God's/Big Bang's green earth we should be teaching intelligent design in science classes, but people are so hellbent (rightfully) to keep it out of science classes that they don't see the very intriguing philosophical questions about it. Too bad the Intelligent Design Movement has hijacked it into a political issue. But I have already digressed waaayyyy too much to get into all that silly business.
But this all brings us to the second, idiotic part of this argument. That somehow, saying "happy holidays" is an actual affront to and attack on Christianity. Saying "happy holidays" is not saying, "I hate Christianity." It's saying: I have...
No less a great mind than Bill O'Reilly said just a few nights ago -- and I'm paraphrasing, obviously, since there are no quotation marks around what's coming up -- Christians are offended by the greeting "happy holidays." O'Reilly has said a lot of ludicrous shit. He said if the City of San Francisco gets attacked, that the U.S. Military should not defend it. He lied that he won two Peabody Awards. He said he wanted to cover a woman with falafel. But this is beneath even his feeble attempts to comprehend quasi-nuanced issues.
The man, after all, has the mind of a class bully-turned-debate team third-stringer. He tries to intimidate people, usually by yelling at them to SHUT UP, and then thinks he won the debate because he talked louder on his own TV show. He's the worst kind of Republican, but again, back to the topic.
I cannot think of one single Christian person who would get offended if you told them "happy holidays." Do you know why? Because when you wish them "happy holidays," you are including Christmas and New Year's! That's why it's happy holidays, not happy holiday! And that is a scientific fact!
If Yom Kippur fell on a Friday (can it? I'm not sure), and you said to a Jewish co-worker "Thank God It's Friday!", do you think he/she would get offended and say, "It's not Friday! It's Yom Kippur!" and then boycott you? This is the same argument. It's not Christmas to everyone, you know. To some people it's just another Sunday.
Would a Christian be happy about everyone going around saying "Happy Hannukah" to every single person, friend or stranger, around this time of year? (Most rational people of any religious denomination probably wouldn't care, but you get the point.) It's just as much a Jewish holiday as it is a Christian one. Why do Christians have the exclusive right to it? Just because it's a more significant holiday on the Christian calendar than it is the Jewish one?
It is simply common courtesy to say "happy holidays" if you don't know with 100% certainty that the person you are addressing celebrates Christmas. If you are talking to your best friend or a co-worker or nun or mom or someone that you know celebrates Christmas, go ahead and say "Merry Christmas." You'll feel good about it. But if you are holding the door open for someone at the mall, and you can't quite tell, don't you think it's just more polite to say "happy holidays"?
Anyway, to EVERYONE in the whole world, have a Merry Christmas!