I recently wrote a short story for a contest, but then realized that it wasn't what they were looking for. I enjoyed writing the story anyway, so here you go...
Dan methodically entered the subway car and settled in for the thirty minute ride home almost oblivious to the passengers around him. He loosened his tie and began catching up on a few emails on his mobile device as the train lurched ahead. As he read the email titled “Holiday Observance Policies”, his jaw tightened, his temperature rose, and he felt a strong surge of indignation.
The email contained the usual legalese that cautioned employees to replace phrases like “Merry Christmas” with “Happy Holidays”, or “Christmas Tree” with “Holiday Tree”. He wanted to scream! Who are the idiots that come up with this nonsense? Why do we have to walk on eggshells when it comes to a declared national holiday? It is Christmas, and I should be able to say Merry Christmas to anybody I like! Great, he thought to himself, it’s not even mid November and I’ve already lost the Christmas spirit. He bowed his head and said a silent prayer.
As he raised his head he looked around at the other passengers as if really seeing them for the first time. The diversity of his fellow subway passengers reflected the diverse city it traveled through. He noticed a Jewish man, and a Muslim woman, and even though not all passengers displayed their faith openly, he was sure that various religions were represented in that small subway car as it hurried along the tracks.
The words “Love thy neighbor” echoed in his head melting any remaining anger. Instead of resentment for his “different” neighbors, he felt a desire to reach out to them and teach them about his feelings towards Christmas. Gathering his courage he walked carefully to the front of the moving train.
“Can I have your attention please,” he shouted with a big smile on his face. A few looked up, but most ignored his request and kept their attention on their phones, papers, or books.
“May I wish you all a Merry Christmas?!” He paused momentarily. “I know that it isn’t politically correct to say that, because according to some brain-dead lawyer it might offend someone. But I ask you, are you offended if I wish something good for you? Are you irritated because I hope for a better life for you? Do you feel insulted because I want to express my love for mankind to you by wishing you a Merry Christmas?”
Dan looked at the Jewish man who had put down his book and listened. “You sir, are you offended if I wish you a Merry Christmas?” The Jewish man shrugged and replied, “According to history, Jesus Christ was a Jew. I don’t believe he was the Son of God, but I certainly don’t take offense that you honor one of my ancestors. Happy Hanukah by the way,” he said politely. Dan smiled and nodded a thank you.
Turning to the Muslim woman Dan asked, “Do you take offense if I wish you a Merry Christmas?” The woman looked cautiously around at the group who at this point were listening intently. “Christmas is not a Muslim tradition, but the prophet Muhammad fasted along with the Jews on the Day of Ashura, so why can’t I celebrate a holiday that promotes peace on earth and good will to men?”
“How about anybody else? Whatever you believe or don’t believe, do you take offense when I wish you a Merry Christmas?” asked Dan loudly yet cheerfully.
“In Hindu we celebrate the birth of Lord Rama, so I view Christmas as a similar celebration,” said an Indian man in a business suit.
“Merry Christmas and Happy Kwanzaa man!” shouted one of the black teenagers in the back of the car with a big grin on his face. “It’s all cool!”
A businessman near the door put down his paper and said laughingly, “I don’t believe in God, but I get lots of gifts and treats from my Christian friends during Christmas time. What’s bad about that?”
Dan smiled as everyone laughed and several conversations began among people that before were strangers making their daily commute home. He went around the train and wished each individual a heartfelt Merry Christmas. As he sat down he felt the Christmas Spirit more than ever because he had followed what Jesus had taught – he had loved his neighbor, in spite of their differences.