Miss Manners takes on Bill O'Reilly

Yes, it’s war all right, but on civility and multiculturalism, not Christmas.

Dear Miss Manners:

I work as a cashier during the Christmas season, and I often wish my customers “Happy holidays.” Sometimes customers get all offended and reply with something like “I choose to celebrate Christmas,” or they go into this long angry rant about the use of the word Christmas.

Am I wrong? “Happy holidays” is more of a habit for me than “Merry Christmas.” I mean it as a gesture of goodwill, and am rather hurt to be yelled at for my choice of words.

But they mean it as a gesture of — well, of what? The spirit of Christmas? Their interpretation of the proper Christian attitude toward those who wish them well?

Miss Manners realizes that those who deal with the public will encounter some nastiness, which professionalism requires them to ignore. But please do not allow the misuse of religion to browbeat others to make you doubt yourself. “Happy holidays” is the general greeting because, as you know, not all your customers are Christian, but they all do get legal holidays for Christmas and New Year’s Day.