The thing is, after all the years that I spent working in retail, and working in nursing homes with elderly folk who are very set in their ways, thinking back, all those holidays spent either behind a cash register or bathing elderly people, the only times I ever got yelled at, like seriously yelled and sometimes even cussed at over a holiday greeting was when I said "Happy Holidays" to someone who wanted me to have said "Merry Christmas" instead.
But the thing is, when you work with the general public, you can't just assume that everyone is celebrating Christmas. Because they aren't. People are celebrating a ton of various holidays during the November through December months. No one ever told me not to say Merry Christmas. I just realized one day that it seemed silly to wish a Christian holiday greeting to my coworker who was Hindu. It's like wishing a happy birthday to someone when it's not their birthday. I worked along side people from every corner of this globe. I worked with people of every race and just about every religion you can name. And out of all those people I worked with or encountered, not one of them ever yelled at me or angrily insisted that I wish a Happy Hanukkah. No one ever screamed at me to wish them a Merry Solstice. Some people replied to my Happy Holidays with a, "And a Merry Christmas to you." or with, "Happy Kwanzaa!" or with, "Happy Hanukkah!" I even got some "Season's Greetings!" and few silly "Bah-humbugs" thrown my way. Generally though, most people, be they Buddhists, Hindus, Muslims, or what have you, always returned the kind greeting with another kind greeting. I did have a lady once say, "Well, I'm an Athiest, so I don't celebrate any holidays, but thank you, and have a wonderful season yourself!" But she wasn't mad or berating or yelling. She was actually quite pleasant.
But there was those few who would turn bright red, heads looking like they were about to explode, rage filling their eyes as spittle flew from their jowls when they spun around to shoot expletives at me, ranting and raging, "This is CHRISTMAS GODDAMMIT! FUCKING SAY MERRY GODDAMMNED CHRISTMAS!" That actually happened on the sales floor at K-Mart one year, it had to be the early 90's. It happened several times over quite few years, actually. But I remember this specific chick like it happened yesterday. I think her head may have actually spun around a full 360 degrees.
Another time that stands out in my memory was a gentleman at the nursing home who spent his days devotedly reading bible verses to his wife, who was my patient. He had been a Baptist minister prior to her stroke, and now spent his time berating us for not seeing to her needs quite to his satisfaction. I can still see his face clearly, too. And hear his voice. He didn't realize that I was the daughter of a Mexican woman. He didn't know that my grandma was an immigrant. And he didn't hold back on telling me all about how he refused to stop at McDonald's for coffee anymore because all they had working there was "those god damned wetback spicks." I bit my tongue and smiled and nodded and bathed his wife trying not to listen to the garbage he spewed. It was my job, and that's what I was paid to do. So I did. Besides, his foul mouth and bad attitude was no reason not to take care of his poor wife. Anyways, the first Christmas that I cared for his wife, I remember walking into her room that day saying, "Happy Holi..." and he jumped in, "You better not say that god damned holiday bull shit! It's CHRISTMAS, god dammit! What in the hell has this world come to? I can't get a god damned Merry CHRISTMAS around here?"
So, when I hear all this talk about the b.s. of being politically correct, it always gets me to thinking about all the people I encountered on Thanksgiving day in the retail stores or nursing homes, on Black Friday sales days, the Christmas eve shoppers...on all those pre-holidays shopping days in those stores, behind those registers, out on the sales floors, and at my patient's bedsides... Not once can I remember anyone going ape shit crazy quite like the folks who did because someone failed to say "Christmas." Yet, it always seems to be that very same crowd, the ones who want everyone to say "Christmas" and are so deeply, mortally offended by anything other than a "Merry Christmas" who are the ones that are fussing and complaining about other people getting offended too easily.
Funny how that works.