BOSTON (MainStreet) -- The problem with a made-up battle: How do you know when you've won? That may very well be the challenge faced by combatants in the annual "War on Christmas."
This year, as has been the case for many holiday seasons, battle lines have been drawn between those who want "Christmas," in word and deed, to be front row and center and others who rely more on expressions of "holiday" cheer for reasons of convenience or inclusion.
There is no denying that there are some yuletide combatants who push the issue.
For example, the Freedom From Religion Foundation -- a national coalition of atheists, agnostics and "free thinkers" -- routinely launches legal challenges to nativity scenes erected on public spaces, demanding that its own signs and banners be placed alongside the displays. Its message: "At this season of the Winter Solstice may reason prevail/There are no gods, no devils, no angels, no heaven or hell/There is only our natural world/Religion is but myth and superstition that hardens hearts and enslaves minds."
It is hardly unreasonable to assume that people of faith will find such an approach far more upsetting than merely making sure their Jewish or Muslim neighbors aren't excluded or offended with a well-meaning expression of holiday cheer.
But beyond such obvious conflicts, there isn't much evidence to suggest that Christmas is under any sort of coordinated attack worthy of the non-stop rhetoric that erupts each year.
A Gallup poll conducted with USA Today found that while about 80% of the U.S. identifies with the Christian faith, more than 93% say they celebrate Christmas. A survey conducted by the National Retail Federation found that 91% of consumers will celebrate Christmas, compared with 5% for Hanukkah and 2% that observe Kwanzaa.
Christmas shopping, by whatever name a consumer might tag it, has a staggering financial impact. NRF estimates that sales throughout Thanksgiving weekend were more than $52 billion. It estimates that total holiday sales will be in the range of $465.6 billion, with as many as 500,000 seasonal employees hired to serve customers. And it's not for Hanukkah or Kwanzaa.
According to the National Christmas Tree Association, last year 27 million natural Christmas Trees were sold, with a market value of $976 million; artificial trees had sales of 8.2 million in the U.S. and a retail value of $530 million. According to data from the NRF and BIGresearch, the U.S. is on target to spend more than $6 billion on Christmas decorations this year.
A recent survey by Rasmussen found that a vast majority of respondents preferred "Merry Christmas" over "Happy Holiday" as a greeting (69% vs. 24%).
If so many Americans, regardless of religion or how some phrase their greetings, are spending so much money on Christmas, is there really evidence of assault worthy of the barrage of commentary and outraged pundits?