The “s” struggling to hang on at the end of “Happy Holidays” fell, exhausted, and was trampled beneath thousands of tiny, pawing, prancing reindeer hooves.
Happy Christmas. War is over.
Perhaps now the assault will cease. Christmas can cease its constant displays of strength, with platoons of Christmas trees on every corner, bells ringing every which where, Starbucks cups bristling in every hand and the menacing bellow of Bing Crosby blasting from every loudspeaker in all public places. At long last, the constant radio and television broadcasts informing us that “Santa is watching, Santa is coming” can cease. “DO THEY KNOW IT’S CHRISTMAS?” Yes. They know. We all know. Those sinister elves can be removed from the shelves. The war is over. Send these agents of enforced compliance home.
Each year the assaults started sooner. Dickens was not enough. There were whole TV channels devoted exclusively to psychological warfare, telling the cautionary tales of Elderly Misers or Busy Men and Women Like You Who Did Not Believe in Christmas and the various horrible things that happened to them — including, but not limited to, stalled cars, lost cats, unforced breakups, inexplicable firings and threats of lonely deaths and eternal damnation — before they were rescued at the last minute by the Spirit of the Holiday, to which they pledged allegiance for the rest of their days. Christmas, in these stories, always won. That was the only way.
Even things that had not originally belonged to Christmas became a part of it. “The Sound of Music.” “Die Hard.” It took everything. It gave nothing back.
I cannot remember a time when Christmas was not at war with us, when “Happy Holidays” and “Season’s Greetings” did not have to be whispered in a low, conspiratorial tone lest the Elf on the Shelf — or worse, a Fox News correspondent — might hear us. Christmas, we knew, would not rest until it controlled the whole calendar. We watched the red and green spread deeper and deeper into November, then October, with a creeping sense of horror.
But now that is over. Halloween can emerge from its defensive crouch in a bunker, where it has been ever since the shot over the bow of “The Nightmare Before Christmas” hit movie theaters. Thanksgiving, which gave up somewhere in 2011, stabbed through the heart with a sprig of mistletoe, can creep back out of hiding and see what is left of its former home. Hanukkah can stop disguising itself as Columbus Day and start to rebuild.
The warlike Nativity scenes that had been inching their camels and Wise Men closer and closer to the single illuminated menorah in a threatening manner can rest.
The war is over. Or the resistance has ended, which is much the same. The whole nation now is forced to honor and celebrate an elderly man with pink cheeks who flies from one place to another in an idiosyncratic private conveyance and depends heavily on the understanding that he will not compensate his labor. We see signs of him in many yards. But he has promised to deliver coal to some people, so we must tolerate him.
Seems about right.
Stay tuned for the next bulletin from the front lines of this conflict, proclaiming definitively that Santa is white.