The assumption, that is, that we’re all Christians.
Sure, the legal imperative is to avoid giving the impression of governmental religious endorsement. Erect a crèche in front of a post office and it’s an establishment of religion. Stick a menorah next to it and it’s a constitutional display of American spiritual folkways.
That may seem like jurisprudential hairsplitting, but when it comes to actual non-Christian Americans, it matters. Take my wife.
She no warrior against Christmas. She happily wishes Christian friends Merry Christmas, enjoys going to Christmas dinner at their houses (especially if the meat is kosher), and every Yuletide sings in the Lessons and Carols service at Hartford’s Immanuel Congregational Church.
But she doesn’t like people acting as though there’s nobody here but us Christians. Back in Decatur, Georgia, she created a bit of a fuss at our neighborhood elementary school by protesting the Christmas tree in the front hallway. Adding the menorah made a big difference. As we walked the carriage roads in Acadia National Park a week ago, she was pleased when other hikers wished us Happy Holidays; Merry Christmas, not so much.
As Gary Trudeau merrily inquired last week, why do Bill O’Reilly et alii vulpes insist that churchyard nativity scenes fail while crèches in front of post offices succeed? That’s for them to say.
For now, with the happy holidays in the rear view mirror, we can go back to our usual plural selves. The feast of the assumption is over.