The following story is abridged from "Frontline In the War on Christmas," an essay in my new free collection, The Shelf on the Elf: Holiday Leftovers.
"Merry Christmas or happy holidays? Which strategy should retailers use to cash in? Here for a fair and balanced debate is Andrew Shaffer, owner of the Order of St. Nick [greeting card company]," FOX & Friends host Steve Doocy explained.
It was December 2008. The clock read 6:24 AM at the FOX News studios in New York. An early hour by anyone's watch, but it was 5:24 in Des Moines, where I was live via satellite to defend my "atheist Christmas cards" (think Charles Darwin in a Santa hat).
My fiancée had grilled me late into the previous night with questions we expected a FOX News host would ask a heretic, such as, "Where are your horns?" and "Why do you hate America?" It had taken a hotel wake-up call, two cell phone alarms, a Red Bull, and a gas station coffee just to pry my eyes halfway open.
Greg Stielstra, a Christian marketing expert, joined the conversation from the FOX & Friends set. Greg's position was that, by using "happy holidays" in advertising and store displays instead of "Merry Christmas," retailers risk alienating a majority of their customers.
This wasn't semantics; this was war.