Conversation between a cashier and me at a local restaurant on the morning of December 24:
Me: (handing over a signed receipt) Happy holidays!
Cashier: You know what? I'm going to wish you a merry Christmas! Donald Trump said that we need to say 'Merry Christmas' more often, so I’m going to do that... (leans in and shifts to a whisper voice) ... even though there are a lot of Jews in West Hartford.
Me: (shifting to a whisper) Like my wife and kids over there? And lots and lots of my friends?
Cashier: (looking a little startled) Yeah. She wouldn’t be offended. Would she?
Me: Not nearly as offended as I am about Americans voting for a bigot and sexual deviant.
Me: Happy Hanukah.
Elysha missed all of this, of course, but as she left the restaurant, she waved to the owner and shouted, "Merry Christmas!"
Icing on the cake.
For the record, I have no problem with people wishing others a "Merry Christmas."
A "Happy Hanukah," "Joyful Kwanza," or "Blessed Eid al-Adha" either.
It's slightly presumptuous to automatically wish others a "Merry Christmas" given that more than 20% of America is non-Christian, but I judge on intent. No malice is intended with a simple "Merry Christmas." It's a simple pleasantry that is occasionally off the mark.
No different, really, than people who say, "God bless you," to me when I sneeze. I could explain to them that I'm a reluctant atheist who has been unable to find faith in God (and I sometimes do), but I never take offense to their offer of Godly intervention on my part.
They mean well.
Frankly, "Happy Holidays" is just as presumptuous given that about 20% of Americans now consider themselves non-affiliated to religion. Atheists. Agnostics. Secular humanists. For them, December is just another month, absent of any holiday whatsoever.
If you're Jewish or Muslim or an atheist and are wished a merry Christmas, you can either accept the sentiment as intended kindness or take the time to explain your belief system.
No big deal.
But when you feel the need to whisper about the existence of Jews in a town and base your seasonal greeting solely on the advice of bigot, I'm probably going to respond in a snarky manner.