Just to piss his uncle off, Michael stopped saying ‘Merry Christmas.’ But he didn’t go with ‘Happy Holidays’ or ‘Seasons Greetings’ instead. No, he started using other languages, which drove the old xenophobe doubly mad.
Joyeux Noël and Mele Kalikimaka were fun, as were Gleðileg Jól and Buon Natale, but Feliz Navidad was the best.
‘Feliz Navidad,’ he’d say, unable—or, perhaps, unwilling—to hide the hint of music in his voice. And that was all it would take for his father to join in the torture, belting the old Christmas standard in his off-key baritone. Uncle Rob would leave then, setting his Jack and Coke on the dining room table—careful to use a coaster, of course. Yes, he would stalk off into the winter cold for a smoke, to cool off before this latest skirmish in the war on Christmas became a full-on battle.
When he came back inside, Michael would extend a hand and tell him, somberly, ‘Bygones? Nobody wants una guerra en Navidad, after all.’