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City government reporter

Jourdan Vian is a reporter and columnist covering local government and city issues for the La Crosse Tribune. You can contact her at 608-791-8218.

This year’s reminder that “Happy Holidays” is not an attack on anything is brought to you by state Sen. Leah Vukmir, whose column “An Unapologetic Merry Christmas” landed in my inbox this week.

Vukmir, a Republican running for Democratic U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin’s seat, sent out the column Thursday to decry liberals who are supposedly just dying to “check their victim box for the day” by being offended by the phrase “Merry Christmas.”

In her column, Vukmir very nearly hits on the truth of the matter, but then takes a nosedive into being just completely wrong.

“I sincerely doubt those celebrating Hanukkah would take offense to being wished Merry Christmas. In a similar fashion, I would certainly not be offended if wished a Happy Hanukkah. Celebrating and welcoming the traditions of others is part of what makes our country great,” she writes.

I said something similar last year, when I pointed out that wishing someone “Happy Holidays” and including Christmas, New Year’s, Hanukkah and Kwanzaa basically equates to “Have a happy month, guys!” and is the opposite of insulting; although Vukmir clearly objects so substituting “holidays” for “Hanukkah” in the phrase.

“At what point did saying Merry Christmas become so offensive?” she asked.

The answer, of course, is never. Literally no one cares if you say “Merry Christmas.” President Donald Trump can say however many times he wants that he’s going to bring “Merry Christmas” back, but since it never left, his assurances are about as credible as Justin Timberlake saying he was bringing sexy back. Justin, you never stopped being sexy! I even dug it when you had your weird ramen noodle curls.

The “War on Christmas” was born on “The O’Reilly Factor” more than a decade ago, when a guy named John Gibson declared, “Every time a supermarket checker or store clerk greets you with ‘Happy Holidays’ instead of ‘Merry Christmas,’ you have met another soldier in the War against Christmas.”

It’s ridiculous because people do not care. People cared when baby Jesus and Nativity scenes were prominently displayed on government property, but to quote myself, in a column published last year, “not wanting the government to endorse Jesus Christ is not the same as banning the whole holiday from existing.”

The American Civil Liberties Union is not suing to force you to say “Happy Holidays” and “Seasons Greetings,” although those of us in the writing profession would like to endorse throwing them in once in a while simply to avoid the terrible repetition of only using one greeting.

In her column, Vukmir decries a politically correct society where “the liberal media” tells people what they should be offended by.

“So here we are, another Christmas season in which we are compelled to appease to a manufactured, politically correct society. I, for one, don’t enjoy being told by the liberal media that we should behave in an impartial fashion and be oh-so-careful as not to offend anyone,” she wrote.

Not only does the irony of doing this while telling others they should be offended by the phrase “Happy Holidays” seem to be lost on her, but also it simply doesn’t line up with the facts.

According to a Pew Research Center study released Tuesday, the only people bothered by holiday greetings are — drumroll please — people like Vukmir.

To quote Pew, “Today, fully half of the U.S. public (52 percent) says that a business’ choice of holiday greeting does not matter to them, while roughly a third (32 percent) prefers for stores and businesses to greet customers with ‘merry Christmas’ during the holidays.”

Fifteen percent prefer either “Happy Holidays” or “Seasons Greetings.” The rest didn’t answer the question.

This isn’t new either. Pew first asked this question in 2005 before asking it again in 2012 and 2017. In both 2005 and 2012, about 45 percent didn’t care and 43 percent wanted them to say “Merry Christmas.”

Basically, the majority of people do not care and of those who do, more than half are those like Vukmir who are terribly saddened at the thought of someone saying “Seasons Greetings” rather than “Merry Christmas.”

So can we please put this repetitive and annoying “War on Christmas” whining to bed?


(8) comments

Buggs Raplin

Well, the political debate over Merry Christmas/Happy Holidays will certainly be a factor in the Senate race if this Republican woman gets the nomination. Can't you just see a debate where Tony Evers champions Happy Holidays to her Merry Christmas. But, my friends and adversaries, we have more important things to discuss. A Boston University professor is claiming that 'Jingle Bells' is racist. OMG. Who knew? How do we deal with it? Ms. Vian, please address this in your next column.

Tim Russell

Debate between a guy running for Governor with a woman running for the US Senate?
You are definitely on a downward spiral old man.


There is no "war on Christmas", but Chippy is launching an all out assault on facts.


A bunch of self-serving nonsense to keep the rabble agitated and not thinking about their shrinking paychecks and longer hours. Happy Hanukkah, Merry Christmas and a joyous Ramadan to all people of goodwill. And enjoy Festivus if it suits you or just be a decent atheist human being.

Buggs Raplin

It's a political issue, Ms. Vian. Obama's White House greeting was 'Happy Holidays' or something to that effect. Trump's greeting changed to 'Merry Christmas.' The Senate candidate is making it an issue with her press release. It's politics. As to the 'War on Christmas' I'm rooting for it.


oh BS buggs. Obamas said the phrase merry Christmas many many times in public. This so called war on Christmas was conjured up by the right wing nuts to stir up their base. they just wanted an excuse to go after Obama to placate those who think he is a Muslim or born in Africa. It is ignorance pure and simple, its politics in its lowest form and its not surprising it comes from the hard right wingers.

Buggs Raplin

I'm talking about the official White House Christmas card, where Obama inserted Happy Holidays as the greeting. Trump changed that to Merry Christmas. It's a political thing, where Trump is disavowing the political correctness embodied in 'Happy is the Republican Senate candidate in her press release. It's just politics.


where do you get your info? I didn't get a white house card for Christmas so I am not privy to what exactly was in it. Maybe you got one. Well good for Trump. Such an upstanding model of a Christian who wouldn't know the meaning of Christmas if it bit him in the a$$. .. Yes saying happy holidays is such an afront to all things American. Its not just politics, its ignorance, stupidity and a desperate politician looking for something to divide America on.

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