Hallmark changes lyric of popular Christmas carol to avoid offending gays

“When you care enough to send the very — er, most politically correct.” That sentiment, which doesn’t exactly come tripping off the tongue, is nevertheless my recommended revision of the ad slogan “When you care enough to send the very best,” coined in 1944 by C.E. (Ed) Goodman, a sales and marketing executive for Hallmark Cards.

The proposed change is in keeping Hallmark’s own decision to do a little creative editing of its own. The company produced a decorative Christmas ornament for this year’s holiday rush in the form of a miniature sweater emblazoned with the message “Don we now our fun apparel.” The line is identical to a lyric appearing in the classic Christmas carol “Deck the Halls,” except that Hallmark’s writers have substituted the adjective fun for the original, which is unmentionable.

Reuters reports that the Kansas City-based company was somewhat taken aback by the backlash from both the straight and gay (whoops, said it!) communities. In a Twitter posting on its website on Thursday, the company wrote:

We’ve been surprised at the wide range of reactions expressed about the change of lyrics on this ornament, and we’re sorry to have caused so much concern.

We never intend to offend or make political statements with our products, and in hindsight we realize we shouldn’t have changed the lyrics on the ornament.

When the ornament, which sells for $12.95, was first released in October, a spokeswoman for the company told ABC News:

When the lyrics to ‘Deck the Halls’ were translated from Gaelic and published in English back in the 1800s, the word ‘gay’ meant festive or merry. Today it has multiple meanings, which we thought could leave our intent open to misinterpretation.

Point taken. The word gay came to be associated with homosexuality as early as the 19th century, according to Wikipedia, though it was not coopted entirely until the late twentieth century. It still seems like an odd coinage for a by that segment of the population that often comes off as bitter and humorless.

Witness the reaction of Mitch Levine, community ambassador of the Lesbian and Gay Community Center of Kansas City, who dismissed the whole kerfuffle as “silly,’ then went on to lament that the same media attention is not given to more serious affronts to gays and lesbians, such as anti-gay lyrics in some new songs.

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