James City County VA's Ashley Tarter on a Quest to Save "Merry Christmas"

This past holiday season, James City County resident Ashley Tarter was even busier than usual. She spent the weeks leading up to Christmas interviewing with local and national media about an interesting grassroots campaign she started, which distributed buttons reading “It’s OK Wish Me A Merry Christmas™”

Tarter was bothered by the removal of “Merry Christmas” from retail greetings, displays and signage during the holiday shopping season, seeing it as an overreaching attempt at political correctness. Rather than viewing generic greetings of “Happy Holidays” and “Seasons Greetings” as a means of being sensitive to other cultures and religions, Tarter, quite contrarily, viewed it as an attack on the Christian religion. She really wanted to be wished a “Merry Christmas.”

Consequently, when she discovered a wholesale button maker, Tarter was determined to set about changing current retail practices in a unique way. She launched the “Wish Me A Merry Christmas” Campaign in July 2007 and had buttons resembling Christmas ornaments made, which read, “It’s OK Wish Me A Merry Christmas™” She sold these pins to individuals and churches locally and online to fund her efforts and gain support for her campaign.

News of Tarter’s campaign spread like wildfire, and the local community was extremely receptive of the idea. But Tarter wasn’t going to stop at local awareness, setting a goal to sell one million buttons before Christmas Day 2007. At that point, she would send a letter to the top 30 major retailers in the nation petitioning to have “Merry Christmas” return again to holiday shopping greetings, signage and music.

Tarter took to the press with her efforts to gain publicity. TV Shows, radio programs, newspapers and various blogs on the Web picked up the story, and Tarter was interviewed again and again about her intriguing campaign to save “Merry Christmas.” Before she knew it, people were proudly pinning these buttons to their sweaters, shirts and coat lapels nationwide, from Virginia to New Mexico to Michigan to New York to Hawaii to Alaska! The response was phenomenal and the campaign a great success.

Learn more about Tarter’s “Wish Me A Merry Christmas” Campaign, browse the campaign’s press coverage and read supporting research for protecting the seasonal greeting “Merry Christmas” at www.wmamc.com.