I stopped by PetSmart today to pick up more food for my cats. On my way in, I was pleased to note that the decoration on the doors said not only “Merry Christmas” and “Feliz Navidad,” but also “Happy Hannukah,” “Merry Kwanzaa,” and “Happy Holidays.” As I was checking out, I asked the cashier to tell the manager that I appreciated their display of religious tolerance. The cashier actually called the manager over so I could tell him myself.

I would encourage others to do the same thing if they find retailers, restaurants, or service providers who acknowledge that not everyone celebrates Christmas in the middle of the winter. Conservative Christians have been putting a lot of pressure on retailers to use Christmas and only Christmas as the term for winter holidays. The least that we can do is congratulate those who don’t cave to such pressure. The conservative Christian campaign relies on shame and fear – organizations threaten retailers that if they are tolerant, they’ll go on a “naughty” list and Christians will avoid their business. Let’s oppose that intolerance, shame, and fear with the feelings and actions that really ought to be associated with this holiday season: feelings of tolerance, compassion, and gratitude.

I specifically said that I knew the “Christmas only” pressure existed, and I was glad to find PetSmart not giving in. You might want to say something like, “It makes me feel more comfortable,” or “more welcome in your place of business.” Let’s show the retailers that the people actually shopping there do care about religious tolerance and are willing to appreciate and reward it.