For What It’s Worth

Merry Christmas!

If this headline offends you, please feel free to stop reading now and move on to something else. I won’t be offended.

As is my habit most days, I turned on my computer this morning and ventured onto the Internet, where I enjoy reading a variety of news stories, commentaries, sports articles, and whatever else nabs my attention. Now and then I encounter a story that stirs a visceral reaction on my part.

Today, that story was about a man who went bonkers over airline employees wishing him a Merry Christmas.

Apparently, he doesn’t celebrate Christmas and was offended by the friendly, seasonal greeting. Not only offended, but, seems to me, easily offended, to the point that he went overboard about it.

According to the news story, the man was preparing to board a plane Tuesday at La Guardia Airport in New York for a flight to Dallas. A cheerful gate agent was welcoming everyone with the Yuletide greeting while checking boarding passes. When she greeted him, the grumpy man snapped at her, “You shouldn’t say that because not everyone celebrates Christmas.”

The agent asked what she should say, and the man shouted, “Don’t say, ‘Merry Christmas!’” He then brushed past her.

I agree that the man has a point; some people do not celebrate Christmas. I assume he is one who does not. Fine. That’s his privilege. He even has the right to be offended if he chooses to do so. But I suggest that he could be offended and still display polite manners. No need to be a jerk. Just ignore the greeting and go quietly on your way. Or, rather than being rude and offensive yourself, respond politely, “Thank you, but I don’t celebrate Christmas.”

Once on the plane, he received a warm “Merry Christmas” greeting from a flight attendant. That, as the old saying goes, was the straw that broke the camel’s back.

“Don’t say, ‘Merry Christmas!’” he raged and began lecturing the flight attendants and the pilot about their faux pas. The crew tried to calm him down, but he persisted and continued browbeating them.

Finally, he was escorted off the plane, accompanied by cheers and applause from other passengers.

How sad. I understand that in today’s politically correct society some people are easily offended; often, in my opinion, unnecessarily so. But this man’s reaction seemed beyond reasonable expectations for the perceived offense. My assumption is that he had other things weighing on his mind and emotions and the string of friendly greetings was simply the tipping point.

In that regard, all of us have been there at some point in our life. Events and circumstances combined to stir us mentally and emotionally and perhaps nudged us to the edge of depression or despair. Then, one day our mood was so near the breaking point that an innocent or innocuous remark sparked an angry response from us, and we took out our feelings on someone who really was not at fault.

My hope is that this man, whoever he is and wherever he is, has a happy day today even though he apparently will not be celebrating Christmas. I also hope that those of you who, like us, celebrate Christmas are having a joyous day.

If your reason for celebration of the season is remembering the birth of Christ, chances are greatly increased that this is a joyous day, whatever else may be going on in your life.

Merry Christmas!

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