The War on Christmas. Or Monogamy. Or Something.

a closeup shot of about a dozen gold-colored toy soldiers in various positions: standing, crouching, etc
Image by Jan Ramroth / CC BY

War on Christmas Lady

I can hear her coming down the hall, talking to someone on her cell phone as she walks into the office suite.

“All this so-called gender stuff hurts kids. I read that some kindergartner decided their gender was ‘tractor’ and I’m supposed to respect that?”

She doesn’t know I can hear her, but then again, if she did, she probably wouldn’t care. Given the option, I would be tempted to select her confidence as a superpower.

She stops in the break room to stow her lunch in the fridge. “It’s not politically correct to be Christian anymore,” she adds.

I roll my eyes reflexively. I legit do not care what religion anyone is. I’m not even sure which one am sometimes. And I’m not alone in this. None of my coworkers seem to care what religion anyone in the office is. But she’s obsessed. She’s persecuted and wants everyone to know.

“You know what I’m sick of?” she says later. “The War on Christmas.” We’re at a work meeting, in front of clients. They laugh nervously, look visibly uncomfortable. Redirect the conversation back to business.

Later she rages about a Happy Holidays meme someone sent her. “If anyone says ‘happy holidays’ here to me, I’m going to scream.”

Putting the “Win” in “Winter”

A yearly ritual begins after Thanksgiving. Every day, I greet a work friend with a different corny sentiment:

  • Hope everyone enjoys December!
  • It’s cold and dark, have some fun.
  • Winter’s the worst, but you’re the best.
  • I’m putting the “soul” in “solstice.”
  • Let’s put the “win “in “winter.”

Sure, sometimes it’s within earshot of War on Christmas Lady. But I’m careful never to say “happy holidays.”

When “Thank You” Horrifies Her

She jumps into one of my projects uninvited and then later drops the responsibility, stating, “Didn’t you say you were going to do that?”

I forward her the email where she told me she was going to take care of it, and it makes her furious. She vents about me for 20 minutes to another coworker. Doesn’t know that the sound carries and that I can hear her from across the suite. Or then again, maybe she doesn’t care. That confidence again.

The next day, I walk to my work mailbox and find a card with a nativity scene on the front. She’s written “Merry Christmas” on the inside with a big flourish.

I stop by her office. “Thank you for the card,” I say to her. “It was lovely.”

And the look on her face is one of pure horror. She knows I do not consider myself Christian (though I was raised Catholic and my family of origin still is) and that I don’t celebrate Christmas religiously these days. She cannot understand why I am not upset that she wished me well in her tradition.

I want to say, “Look, there is no War on Christmas. I get that you’re trying to be nice. I’m trying to be nice, too.”

But my phone rings. A client is calling me. The moment passes. And I never quite get back to there, to that place where I can say it to her.

Tank You Very Much

After she jumps into another project she has no business being involved in and lies to my boss multiple times during that process, I begin to nurse a terrible passive-aggressive fantasy: Getting and wrapping a toy tank and a small toy soldier as a present.

“Why did you get me these?” she would ask.

“For the War on Christmas,” I’d reply.

I never do it. But the idea keeps me sane as I untangle the mess she creates and cope with the fact that my boss doesn’t seem to care about the (easily provable) lies.

The War on Monogamy

I still think of this former coworker often. Basically any time I write a post on polyamory that becomes popular enough that I get comments and private messages that suggest that merely being pro-polyamory means being anti-monogamy.

It’ll remind me of her — and the belief that saying “Happy Holidays” means there’s a War on Christmas. Or that saying “I’m polyamorous” means there’s a War on Monogamy.

I totally understand it in the context of posts that mention toxic monogamy culture. Some people don’t realize that “toxic monogamy culture” is a phrase that refers to a specific kind of monogamy, not monogamy in general. “Toxic” is a modifier. Much in the same way that one can decry “abusive relationships” without thinking or asserting that all relationships are abusive, referring to “toxic monogamy culture” doesn’t mean that all monogamy is toxic. That’s an absurd notion.

But even in instances where toxic monogamy isn’t mentioned, it’s a reliable pattern. A simple “yay polyamory” is read by some folks as “boo monogamy.”

While I’m a writer who focuses primarily on alternative relationships — and especially consensual non-monogamy and kink — I consider myself able to do poly or mono depending on the situation (and wrote a little bit about that in this post about monogamy and polyamory not being a binary but a spectrum). I’m somewhere in the middle. I even wrote a post about the kind of monogamy I could do these days.

There is no War on Monogamy.

There is no War on Christmas. Just people doing the best they can within their respective traditions.

The culprit here, perhaps, is poor boundaries.

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My new book is out!

A Geek’s Guide to Unicorn Ranching: Advice for Couples Seeking Another Partner 

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