CHAPPAQUA N.Y. – For days leading up to the holiday weekend, a small group of protesters has gathered outside of the home of President-elect Hillary Clinton waving signs in support of Christmas. “We’re tired of not being able to say ‘Merry Christmas,'” said Tim Unterberger, 47, who had driven in from Norwalk, Connecticut, when he heard about the action on Fox News.
All week, the President-elect has been hard at work on the transition process, announcing a music festival called Pantsuitstock to follow the Inauguration, details of her forthcoming budget proposal, and the creation of a new volunteer corps called Pantsuit Posse. As the sun rose on this Christmas Eve morning and the dozen or so protesters began arriving near the gates of the property, Clinton herself surprised them.
“Merry Christmas,” she said repeatedly as she made her way through the group, shaking hands while her Secret Service detail lingered nearby. “Who would like to go for some coffee and talk about this?”
All agreed, and the protesters and the President-elect made their separate ways to Chappaqua’s Mildred’s Coffee & Tea, where the incoming President bought coffee for the group and everyone took seats at a large round table toward the back of the casual dining room. “I’ve always done these listening tours,” Clinton told them. “When I was Secretary of State, when I ran for Senate, I just think the best way to get good policy is to really hear what’s on people’s minds.”
The group of protesters expressed concern about the so-called “War on Christmas,” and alleged that employers and governments were working to prevent their free exercise of religion. The President-elect asked, “Do any of you work in places where you’ll be penalized for wishing someone ‘Merry Christmas?'”
No one replied.
“Have any of you ever been harassed for saying ‘Merry Christmas?'” the President-elect asked them.
Janet Smith, 29, of Poughkeepsie, New York, raised her hand. “When I was in college, there was a girl who would get really mad about it.” Others in the group nodded their assent to this report of anti-Christmas sentiment.
“What was she mad about? Did you ever talk to her about it?” Clinton asked.
“She was a radical feminist, so we didn’t really talk much,” Smith allowed. “But she’d give everybody really bad looks this time of year.”
Clinton nodded, sipping her coffee, and then told the group, “As you probably know, I’m a Methodist, and this time of year is really special to me, especially now that I have grandkids to share it with. I’m so sorry for your friend’s reaction in college. When it comes to this ‘War on Christmas’ thing that comes up in the media every year, I just look around at all the wreaths and lights and trees, all the shoppers and all the families traveling long distances to be together and I just think – every year, I just think – ‘Well talking heads, it looks like Christmas wins again.'”
The impromptu meeting went on for another ten or fifteen minutes, while the future President asked protesters about their Christmas plans, their kids and grandchildren, and shared anecdotes about the dangers of bringing a new kitten into a home with a fully decorated Christmas tree. Mrs. Clinton famously rescued a kitten from a tree while on a walk earlier this week, and ‘Hot Sauce’ has, according to her stories, been terrorizing their Christmas decorations ever since.
Finally, Clinton made her farewells, noting that it was Christmas Eve, and with two young grandchildren, she and Bill Clinton had a lot to do to get ready before Chelsea Clinton and her family arrived at the house. “Merry Christmas,” she said to the group as she departed.
The protesters finished their coffee. None said they felt the matter was resolved, but none returned to their earlier positions outside of the Clinton’s home.