By Don Harrison

It's absurd, of course, to call a Christmas tree a "holiday tree" (as a New England governor did last year) - even if the purpose is to avoid offending non-Christians.

The Christmas tree is specific to Christmas. Nobody refers to it as a "holiday tree," except possibly a clueless politician or a merchant who thinks he can sell more by secularizing the holiday.

Making a big deal out of such absurdities - as do those concerned about what the conspiracy theorists at Fox News and elsewhere call the "war on Christmas" - is just as ridiculous.

As a religious holiday, observed in church and in the home, Christmas is doing quite well, thank you. So why worry about merchandising? The guys selling toys and appliances don't set religious standards any more than clergymen set commercial guidelines.

Merchants are not theologians or spiritual leaders, nor should they be. They sell stuff, and they'll try whatever works to sell as much as they can for as much as they can. If they think "holiday sales" is more effective than "Christmas sales," that's business. If they're wrong, let it show up at the cash register; they'll "find religion" all right.

Those who object to it can shop somewhere else. That's what capitalism is all about.

Most shoppers don't care whether it's called a Christmas sale or a holiday sale. They're out to find what they want at the best price, regardless of what the sale is called. If the storekeeper believes he'll do better not referring to Christmas, let him call it whatever he wants.

As for wishing people "Happy Holidays" rather than "Merry Christmas," it's just an effort to be more inclusive, taking in not just Christmas, but New Year's Day, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, and any other seasonal observance. No one's faith should be so fragile that "holiday sales" and TV commercials can shake it.

Happy holidays.

Don Harrison is a longtime Philadelphia newspaper editor and writer. He can be reached at donharrison28@gmail.com.