“Happy Holidays!” was my parting call to a co-worker who promptly rolled her eyes at me and said with a look of, well, irritation and intolerance. “Merry CHRISTMAS” she managed to croak out.  “That too” was the only reply that came to my stunned mind. I thought of many more as I drove away, like ‘what the hell is wrong with you,  you miserable moron’. But that will be for another day.  For now, it’s all about the bubble.

When did this happen? Am I more sensitive now that the world has been turned upside down? My short peaks into social media and local/state news shows nothing  much new, still hatred, still a horrible orange idiot trying to get us all killed,  still Rev Barber and the NAACP leading the good fight, but one new thing stood out. North Carolina has been rated as no longer a democracy. I knew this, many people knew this, but now the world knows and still, nothing has changed.   This co-worker isn’t someone I have to work closely with, definitely someone I do not socialize with, but what has changed to make it ok for her to not have the decency and tolerance to just reply ‘Happy Holidays’ back or even ‘Merry Christmas’ back without the ugly grimace and irritation?

During a conversation not long after the presidential (lower case on purpose) election about when the wide divide between the far right and the left began, I added my theory and I think it’s a good one.  Growing up in rural NC in the late 1960’s – ’70’s with only three channels on the TV and only one TV set in the house, we had little choice of news sources.  We read the local newspaper that was delivered once per week and we watched the local television news at noon, mostly for the weather report and the farm report, and at night we watched the nightly newscast at 6:30.  Period. We were the norm, not the exception.  Walter Cronkite, David Brinkley and Harry Reasoner told us what was going on in the world and at home, and we believed them because we trusted they were telling us the truth.  We never thought otherwise. We sat down, we watched and listened and then we went on with our lives.  When cable news shows began and we stopped having one place where we all got our news, the divide began.  When cable news shows started using racist, xenophobic, misogynistic and homophobic newscasters and shows to raise their ratings and compete with the other 100 news shows and the hate radio shows that they spawned, the divide was well on its way. The internet, well we know anything you read on social media and the internet is true, right? Now, they call it a post-truth era?  People believe their own version of the truth based of what show they watch/listen to/read and then…POOF, the bumbling orange idiot becomes president.

I know what happened to this person Somewhere, on the hate radio or “faux news” shows this particular co-worker subscribes to, someone was spouting nonsense about the ‘war on Christmas’ or how horrible it was that our President sent a family Christmas card that says “Happy Holidays” or whatever the particular hateful piece of information they were spewing, and she internalized the rhetoric and vomited it all over me. In the parking lot. As we were leaving for the holidays. Nice, huh?  What I SHOULD have said was “I acknowledge that you are a Christian and you celebrate Christmas, but being Christ-like is an attribute of your religion that you should strive to emulate. I know that there are more than one holiday this time of the year and chose to be inclusive instead of exclusive. That does not give you the right to be intolerant and downright mean to me.”

So, Happy Holidays, Happy Kwanzaa, Happy Hanukkah, Happy Solstice, Happy Yule, Happy Las Posadas, Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year, dammit!!!!

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